We have been a part of the local community for many years operating in a building that was entrusted to us in 1951 by the Watersiders Union.
The historical significance of the premises and its connections are well understood by the community.
Our building has been an integral, significant and well-known part of the Lyttelton community for over a century. Built in 1905, the building housed a range of commerical premises through to 1944 including a grocery shop and the Loons garage. In 1944, the building was purchased by three watersiders and around that time the premises were converted to become the Waterside Workers Social Club known locally as 'The Loons'.
The parapet façade is a replica of the art deco frontage from the 1930's; it is also seen on other local buildings.
Lyttelton Working Mens Club history is a part of New Zealand history. 1951 is a significant year in New Zealand history. Lyttelton and its port, along with others throughout the country, were involved in the largest industrial dispute ever seen in New Zealand which lasted for 151 days. Having endured compulsory overtime and dangerous working conditions, watersiders finally put in an overtime ban seeking better conditions and an end to compulsory overtime. The Government declared a state of emergency on 21 February 1951. 'Draconian emergency regulations imposed rigid censorship, gave police sweeping powers of search and arrest and made it an offence for citizens to assist strikers - even giving food to their children was outlawed'.
The Waterside Workers Social Club became the hub of support for the locked out workers and their families in Lyttelton including the distribution of food illegally donated by people sympathetic to their cause. The Government of the day deregistered the Waterside Workers Union and sought to seize its assets. The Club became a different entity - the Lyttelton Working Mens Club and thus some assets, including the building itself, were saved.
Our Club went from strength to strength and helped reunite the community hosting community events - film nights, fairs, indoor sports and games. We served as a meeting place for local groups, and moving with the times, discos and themed social nights. In 2007, the building was leased to the Caberet Club, which adopted the Loons name and became The Loons Theatre Company running well-supported shows, plays, music nights and fund-raisers. The Working Mens Club kept a presence with club Sundays, and maintained the building.