The decision to build the Mount Pleasant Soldiers Memorial was not made quickly or easily. At an estimated cost of 500 pounds the Mount Pleasant Institute building was in need of extending, however at a meeting held on 7 April 1914, Robert T. Melrose ‘proposed a substantial personal donationto the building fund, provided the Committee waited until it raised enough money on its own account and did not deflect community attention from a successful campaign for the coming railway line.’
On 20 November 1926 the foundation stone of the soldiers Memorial Hall was placed by the then Governor, Sir Tom Bridges. ‘His Excellency was received on arrival at the building by a guard of honour composed of 21 returned soldiers all wearing medals but not in uniform, as in each case the wearers had found it would be an impossibility ot risk a few more extra stone weight into what some years ago would have been a comfortable fit.’ The official opening of the Hall was held on 16 July 1927 when Mr Franklin Dewell opened the doors.
Despite the controversy surrounding the building of the Hall, the community took the Soldiers Memorial Hall to heart. Peter Laing continued his caretakership of the premises. Young men of the district played billiards and draughts during long winter evenings, and book borrowers appreciated the new library. The Mount Pleasant Agricultural Bureau held its monthly meeting in one of the small committee.
A circulating library was popular with the locals, allowing people up-to-date reading matter.
Balls and concerts in aid of the local hospital and sporting clubs were popular. Even the flooding of the basement supper room was not a deterrent to a good time!
Within the main hall there is a door underneath the stage through whith tables of supper would be passed for patrons, or patrons would venture to the understage supper room. A copper in the attached ante-room would have milk heated from which coffee was made, with water boiled in another for tea.
Benbow pictures came to town, with silent films shown every second Saturday night, and Mount Pleasant became one of a string of over thirty South Australian rural centres linked to the Benbow enterprise. On 9 August 1930 talkies came to town with John Barrymore in ‘Tarzan’ and the ‘Perils of Pauline’. It was necessary to make a booking in order to secure your seat for the night. The local young men and women of the district would work as ushers and usherettes, ensuring no person would miss out on their seat.
In May 1935 the opening meeting of the new District Council of Mount Pleasant was held in the Hall.
ROLLER SKATING AND BASKETBALL
Roller skating was a regular and popular activity and a great fundraiser during the 1930s. Basketball was played in the Hall until the commencement of work on the dress circle meant that there was not enough height in the main hall for this activity.
It was the responsibility of the committee to maintain the hall, and provide adequate parking, and gravelling. Bitumenising of the front portion of the hall grounds was carried out, with the addition of water pipes and guttering. It was proposed that discussion be had regarding a dress circle to give additional seating for picture shows and function.
By February 1939 work had commenced on the dress circle and additions, and it was opened on Anzac Day 1939. The projection room, which was on the outside of the building was accessed by a staircase, on the outside, until the additions allowed a doorway at the top of the stairs to be used for access.
It became more and more difficult for the committee to maintain the premises and surrounds, and finally at the Annual General Meeting in 1964 it was announced that the Mount Pleasant Soldiers Memorial Hall would be vested to Council. At a Special Meeting on 14th April 1964, Councillors P. I. Herriot, W. J. Dewell and Messrs J. W. Lucas and H. B. Westphalen were duly appointed to a management committee, and new regulations provided for coundil representatives and members of the public to operate as a mangement committee. This is still continuing otday, with a committee of 12 operating as a Section 41 Management Committee of the Barossa Council. A caretaker looks after the bookings and maintenance and is guided by the management committee.
The Quiet Waters By, Reg Butler
Centenary booklet, 1947