History of the Wanganui Cosmopolitan Club Inc.
The Hon. John Balance, Wanganui’s most noted parliamentarian and the great Liberal Premier, proposed and founded The Wanganui Cosmopolitan Club Inc.in March 1893. He wanted a fraternity “where men of all conditions of life might meet for mutual help and education” an early club minute says. “One matter which he wished distinctly to be banned was politics”.
First home of club
The Club’s first home, opened in March 1893 in Campbell Place, (now Rutland St) Wanganui. The Club leased this building from Mrs Sarah Hogg. In 1900 the Club built its own purpose-built building, which still stands today. This was erected on the corner of Drews Avenue and Rutland Street. Shortly afterwards an addition was added due to the growth and popularity of membership. In later years the original leased building was demolished alongside the Club on Rutland Street, and the Club established an Outdoor Bowling Green, where the old Club’s Car Park existed, and still remains today as a Car Park.
In 1971 a New Building Committee was formed to explore the viability of building new premises, or upgrade the old premises. The old premises were creating an ongoing maintenance issue, and the cost of maintaining it was causing financial concerns, and the possibility of having to upgrade and renovate the building to meet modern day standards, such as fire and earthquake regulations proved prohibitive. After several assessments and costings, this verified new premises were more economic. It was then decided by members to build new premises on Ridgway Street, where the Club is located today, which includes, a 120 seat Restaurant, Lounge Bar, Entertainment and Dance facilities, Gaming and Sporting areas, together with a Conference/Function Room and Administration areas. At this time Restaurants were in their infancy in Chartered Clubs, with times changing.
On the 22 September 1979, the new building was completed and officially opened by the then Governor General, Sir Keith Holyoke, KG, GCMG, CH, QSO, KSW, on behalf of Her Majesty, The Queen, to continue with the tradition of the Permanent Club Charter, commonly known as a Queen’s Charter.
Permanent Club Charter (Queens Charter)
The Club is very privileged and proud to hold such a prestigious Charter, which was granted by the Colonial Secretary on the 10 March 1894, on behalf of Queen Victoria. Holding such a unique Charter means the Club is exempt in having to hold a liquor licence in accordance with the Supply and Sale of Alcohol Act 2012, Section 414. for members to consume liquor on the premises and take liquor away (off sales). A reproduction of the Charter is displayed in the front foyer of the Club, and it is encouraged that this document is read, as there is some remarkable wording in this historical document. The original document is in secure safekeeping.
The Club from its inception only admitted Male members. Female Members being accepted in 1979.
Acquisition of Land
Due to the foresight and diligence of a previous Club Executive Committee, and approved by members several years ago, the purchase of the property on Ridgway Street, proved to be a very astute move, as when the Club came to rebuild new premises, the acquired land was freehold, which eased the finances for the club to build new modern day facilities. Had this land not been acquired in earlier years, there would have been some doubt as to whether the Club could have ever financed new premises that we enjoy today. It is a valuable area of Real Estate, due to its central city location.
The Club vacated the old premises with a declining membership of approximately 650 members. This number rose very quickly to approximately 2300 members in the new building on Ridgway Street, and after 12 months, it was necessary after closing the membership for a period of time, to add two extensions to both the Restaurant and the Main Lounge Bar area to accommodate the growing membership. The cost of the two extensions were $120,000. The new building initially costing $450,000.
The Wanganui Cosmopolitan Club Inc. and the Wanganui RSA amalgamated in late 2018, which has proven to be a prudent and beneficial move, with the newly amalgamated Club now trading as ”Club Metro”. It now has a combined mixed membership of some 2600 members. The Club is now administered by a Management Board, and a Social and Events Committee, and is now once again flourishing, and is a very important organisation in the Community, providing many benefits to its present and future Members who may wish to join.