BOOKER T. WASHINGTON CLUB
207 ALBION ST, SURRY HILLS, SYDNEY
IN AUSTRALIA DURING WWII

 

The American Coloured Services Club was opened by the US Army in 1942 in Durham Hall at 207 Albion Street, Surry Hills in Sydney in the former German Concordia Club near Taylor Square for the entertainment of African American soldiers based in Sydney during WWII. It was a rest and recreation club. It had a library, dining room, games room, writing room and dance floor. It was also patronised by aboriginal men and women as well as young white women. There was no segregation at the Club.

It was initially run by an African American US Army sergeant. There were many protests held by locals to try to close down the club. It was closed down for a short while and refurbished and they then brought in African American Red Cross workers who took over the running of the club and they renamed it to the Booker T. Washington Club on 11 December 1943. It was named after the son of a slave who taught himself to read and write and concentrated on the education of his people. The Red Cross workers were trained in social work.

One of the bands that played at the club was from the 29th Quartermaster Regiment. Dances were held there on Wednesday and Saturday nights.

In July 1945 the American Red Cross closed down the Booker T. Washington Club and handed over Durham Hall to the British Navy who had arrived in Australia with their Pacific Fleet after the war had finished in Europe. Durham Hall is now listed on the New South Wales Heritage Register.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Stuart Davis for his assistance with this web page.

 

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This page first produced 3 July 2020

This page last updated 03 July 2020