- President – Geoff Coffill
- Vice President – Wally Benington
- Director – Bob Nugent
- Director – Peter Joass
- Director – Terry Kennedy
- Director – Jason Scott
- General Manager – Ian Doherty
- Treasurer – Theo Papas
A place where good times come alive
List of Directors
The Combined Services RSL Club was established in 1945 and is located in one of the most historical areas of Sydney.
The Combined Services RSL Club fronts onto Barrack Street, one of Sydney’s shortest Streets. Barrack Street was the side gate to George’s Square Barracks. Originally called Barrack Lane, the street was proclaimed on 24 March 1849 when the military barracks were relocated to Victoria Barracks and is one of the few city streets not named after an individual, taking its name from Barracks Square.
After the colony was established, the area of the city bounded by the line now formed by George Street on the east, Druitt Street on the south and a line extending from Hunter Street to Darling Harbour on the north, comprised what was called the Military District. York Street was known as Barracks Row, Clarence Street was known as Soldiers Middle Row and Kent Street was known as Soldiers Back Row. No civilians were allowed in this area and this regulation was in force until the arrival of Governor Macquarie George’s Square Barracks was also known as George Street Military Barracks or Wynyard Barracks and were occupied around 1792. The barracks were bounded by George Street to the east, Margaret Street to the north, Clarence Street to the west and Barrack Street to the east. George’s Square Barracks was developed in several building programs and was constructed by Governor Macquarie, and became the largest British military barracks in the southern hemisphere and was one of the most prominent landmarks in the town. The barracks and Military District occupied approximately fifteen acres of land in the centre of the town.
The original settlement barracks were in Sydney Cove and were relocated by Governor Macquarie to the Military District. This relocation brought protection to the new middle class area around Hyde Park, Elizabeth Street and Macquarie Street. The gaol and police station remained in ‘The Rocks’ area and reminded the population that this was the original settlement of early convicts, as well as of trade and a source of great thievery and low-life haunts.
Governor Macquarie laid out Barracks Square. The boundary, defined by a stone wall, stretched north just short of Jamison Street west to Clarence Street and south to Barrack Street. The principal gate was centrally located in George Street between Martin Place and Hunter Street. A gateway wall on the line of York Street was located opposite in Barrack Street. This gate was the most used exit as it faced two strategically placed inns the Hope Tavern and the Crown and Kettle was located further along George Street.
Various facilities developed around the Barracks including pubs, eating houses and brothels and the wives of the soldiers lived just behind the barracks in what in now Clarence Street.
George’s Square Barracks played a role in the second phase of the infamous Rum Rebellion (June 1808 to January 1809) when Colonel Paterson had Governor Bligh taken from Government House and locked up in George’s Square Barracks until he agreed to return to England (although in fact he sailed to Hobart).
In the 1830s, after forty years of occupation of the George Street Barracks, the buildings were beginning to show their age. The most significant factor in deterioration of the timber and brick buildings was the behaviour of the ‘green’ timber used in their construction. As well as the need to refurbish the barracks other interests were influential. The barracks occupied a large tract of land in the middle of a rapidly growing commercial centre and the cry was ‘the soldiery is uncouth and has no interest in trade’. The cry was ‘get the soldiers out of town’.
In 1836 Governor Bourke approved the transfer of the Barracks to Darlinghurst. It was decided in 1838 to construct a new military barracks on the Old South Head Road and now known as Victoria Barracks. The George’s Square Barracks garrison left on August 5, 1848.
Plans were at once put forward for the cutting up of Wynyard. William Charles Wentworth prompted by Dr Henry Grattan Douglas attempted to retain Wynyard Barracks as a site for the first university in Australia. Sydney College University was established instead in the old Sydney College in College Street and subsequently moved to Parrakeet Hill on Grose Farm, the current location of Sydney University.
The relocation of the Barracks enabled a greater development of George Street as a commercial and warehouse precinct with the Savings Bank of New South Wales, the CBC Bank, and David Jones located between Wynyard Street and Barrack Street. At the York and Clarence Streets end, grand Victorian and Federation warehouses were constructed which were later used as commercial premises. The construction of the GPO in the 1880s provided an important civic vista to Barrack Street. The extension of the Savings Bank in 1880 reinforced this as did the construction of the CBC Bank in 1925.
Between 1848 and 1887, the former parade ground of George’s Square Barracks was known as Wynyard Square and in 1887. In 1887 the area became known as Wynyard Park and was dedicated as an open space square for public recreation, a role which it has maintained to present day. The park was named after General Wynyard, Commander of British Forces in Australia 1848-1853. The park's most significant period was 1890 to 1910 when it was well planned and established. Its layout reflects this late Victorian Period in its landscape design. Colonial Architect Mortimer Lewis (1835-1849) and the Director of the Sydney Botanic Gardens Charles Moore (1848-1896), influenced the design of the place.
In 1925 excavations for Wynyard Station began. Construction continued until 1933 which was highly disruptive to the park and removed most of the earlier fabric. From 1933 onwards the park has been closely associated with public transport in the area. This includes the Station and Bus Terminus. Important historical elements in the park include the remnant original fabric of sandstone retaining walls, the Rev. Dr. Lang Memorial statue, the Men's underground convenience erected in c. 1910 (now filled in); Washington Filifers Palms; a Magnolia Grandiflora tree associated with nineteenth century planting a Port Jackson Fig Tree associated with nineteenth century planting and a Hoop Pine tree.
In January 1943, the Combined Services RSL Sub-Branch was established at 5 – 7 Barrack Street, with its offices on the ground floor. Situated in the basement of the same building was “The Stage Door Canteen” with a stage at one end and sandwiches, tea and coffee service on one side. This was as place where Australian and Allied servicemen and women could enjoy a meal or a snack, dance, socialize and enjoy the music of leading artists of that time.
On 4 October 1945, the Combined Services RSL Sub-Branch formed a provisional committee to form the Combined Services RSL Club and it inaugural Annual General Meeting took place on 17 March 1946.
A large section of Barrack Street now forms part Sesquicentenary Square – named to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the incorporation of the City of Sydney while the Combined Services RSL Club stands proudly on part of the southern side of the remaining section of Barrack Street and has done so since 1945.
Combined Services RSL sub-Branch
2nd Floor, 5-7 Barrack Street Sydney NSW 2000
Telephone/Fax: (02) 9299 0545
Meetings: 11:30am on the fourth Thursday of:
January – Quarterly General Mtg March – Annual General Meeting April – Quarterly General Mtg July – Quarterly General Meeting October – Quarterly General Mtg