Bloomsbury Soldiers' Hall member Mavis Telford. Picture: Heidi Petith
Bloomsbury Soldiers' Hall member Mavis Telford. Picture: Heidi Petith

How a humble hall became a country town’s heart and soul

AS A teenager, Mavis Telford sat with the girls on the timber seats that still line the walls of the Bloomsbury Soldiers' Memorial Hall.

The Midge Point resident said they would nervously wait for the "chaps" to ask them onto to the dance floor.

Bloomsbury Soldiers' Hall member Mavis Telford seated where the women would wait for the men to ask them to dance. Picture: Heidi Petith
Bloomsbury Soldiers' Hall member Mavis Telford seated where the women would wait for the men to ask them to dance. Picture: Heidi Petith

"It was the nicest dance floor in the area," Mrs Telford said.

"They'd go and spread a little pops on it.

"It was like a sawdust type of thing.

"They used to sprinkle it on to make the floor fast.

"The kids would slide from one end to the other."

Mrs Telford said the etchings left behind on the timber posts where the servery once was, brought back memories of the mid-dance suppers.

Still with its original wooden shutters, the cladded hall has kept a humble appearance but it is rich in special memories for the Bloomsbury and Midge Point communities.

Although, the hall's beginnings were hard fought.

The names of the soldiers who served the nation take pride of place in the Bloomsbury Soldiers' Hall. Picture: Heidi Petith
The names of the soldiers who served the nation take pride of place in the Bloomsbury Soldiers' Hall. Picture: Heidi Petith

The community began rallying for the project in 1946 as a memorial to their soldiers, raising funds with cane sugar levies, rodeos and dances.

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Mrs Telford's mother Frances 'Bub' Camm became a founding committee member in 1951, as did her father Jack Camm - who later agreed to also be a co-guarantor on a pivotal loan.

Residents then loaned and borrowed machinery and equipment, donated supplies, sought out bargains and freely gave their time to build the hall which was blessed by about 500 people on November 29, 1952.

"There was such a commitment from the community to get it going," current Bloomsbury Soldiers' Hall president Gina Passfield said.

Bloomsbury Soldiers' Hall president Gina Passfield. Picture: Heidi Petith
Bloomsbury Soldiers' Hall president Gina Passfield. Picture: Heidi Petith

"There were a lot of naysayers who said it was a massive undertaking and it'd never happen; but it did."

Mrs Passfield said the place had been the town's soul ever since with all manner of events and it would only get better with age.

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She said a Mackay Regional Council grant had recently allowed them to overhaul the toilet amenities and they would soon upgrade the windows and front porch steps.

Secretary Lynn Logan said they would also replace the hall entry to improve it for weddings and make it "rather enticing for photographs".

Bloomsbury Soldiers' Hall secretary Lynn Logan. Picture: Heidi Petith
Bloomsbury Soldiers' Hall secretary Lynn Logan. Picture: Heidi Petith

"A lot of people out here they don't have the money to spend on a big wedding like they do in the cities," Mrs Logan said.

"But here you can do your own catering, there's a cool room, a refrigerator."

While the hall does not yet have the luxury of airconditioning, what it has in bountiful supply is love, including from the men in the community.

"They're down (here) on their knees pulling out weeds because kids are running around barefooted," Mrs Logan said.

"We're proud of it," Mrs Telford said.

The Daily Mercury would like to thank Delys Jepperson who has chronicled the history of the hall.

Share your story and photos with us: Daily Mercury

 

This story was thanks to the My Town series - a Daily Mercury and Mackay Regional Council initiative.

Next up, a reporter will visit Sarina on Tuesday, December 22 alongside Deputy Mayor Karen May.

Bloomsbury Soldiers' Hall president Gina Passfield, secretary Lynn Logan, member Mavis Telford and Mackay councillor Belinda Hassan enjoying a cuppa at the My Town visit to Bloomsbury – a joint initiative of the Daily Mercury and the council.
Bloomsbury Soldiers' Hall president Gina Passfield, secretary Lynn Logan, member Mavis Telford and Mackay councillor Belinda Hassan enjoying a cuppa at the My Town visit to Bloomsbury – a joint initiative of the Daily Mercury and the council.

Let us tell the stories that matter to you and if you think we should come to your town, send us an email to mackay@news.com.au

 

In the meantime, why not check out the other My Town stories:

 

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Cooking with gas: Zarby's Cafe celebrates 2nd birthday

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Habana:

A Mackay castle fit for the bride and groom

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The hidden history of proud, culturally-rich Habana

Habana residents vent anger over subdivision stifling

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