The Pearl Beach Progress Association was formed in 1929 to work for the needs of local residents and has been in existence ever since, making it one of the oldest continuous Progress Associations in NSW. In 1943, three of its members, William Steinbeck, James Armstrong, and William Frost, purchased land at 9 Diamond Rd as a site for a Hall for the use of the Association and the community.
However during and immediately after World War 2 it was almost impossible to obtain building materials and money was scarce. By designating the Hall a war memorial, a government subsidy became available, but even so, it was not until 1950 that the Hall was finished, using mostly volunteer labour, and open for use.
That first Hall was only about half the size of the Hall you see now. Over the years it has been extended, renovated and restored. Most recently, modern lavatories and facilities for disabled access have been added. Maintaining the Hall and keeping its facilities up to date with modern expectations has become a major financial responsibility for the Progress Association.
The first Music Festival was held in the Hall during the June long weekend in 1994. Since then it has become an annual event. Most memorably, in 2007 because of severe storms that brought down trees and power lines, the Festival was held, largely by candlelight. It is hoped that this year’s Festival will maintain what has already become one of the fine traditions of Pearl Beach.
The hall was officially dedicated as a Memorial Hall on the 19th September 1950.
The hall can be booked for private events, with modern commercial kitchen and other improvements; this enables us to offer an affordable, quality venue for your next function. Contact – (02) 4341 4564, or click here for details.
From the press release for Bev Kingston’s Pearl Beach & Progress – the story of a community and an ideal 1929-2009.
Pearl Beach was one of several estates on the Woy Woy Peninsula developed after World War 1 by father and son C.R and CJ Staples. By 1921 they had consolidated he existing land holdings at what was then known at Green Point and were planning a new estate to be called Pearl Beach with its streets named after gem stones. The first land sale was registered in 1927 and the first house built soon after. But for some years, partly because of the depression of the early 1930s, sales were slow, few houses were built and Pearl Beach continued as a fishing camp, one of many up and down the coast of NSW. According to legend (for there are no surviving records till the 1940s) the Pearl Beach Progress Association came into being in 1929, probably a William Steinbeck and his friends yarned round their camp fire after cooking the day’s catch about the problem of fighting bush fires that threatened in the summer. Soon there were other needs – a post office and a telephone service, better maintenance of the dangerous and inadequate cliff road round the base of Mt Ettalong and the rock pool, both built by the developers to make the beach more attractive but increasingly a headache to maintain, and a bus that connected with the train at Woy Woy.
During the 1930s and 1940s Pearl Beach gradually became home to a few families who were able to make a living from the small farm blocks opened behind the village streets, some ex-servicemen who found its quiet remoteness preferable to city life, and an early conservationist, former Woy Woy postmistress, Minard Crommelin. By the late 1940s the Progress Association had begun building a community hall, dedicated in 1950 as a war memorial to the sons of several local families who had died during World War 2 and in Korea. Once basic needs for communications and maintenance were satisfied the idea of progress came to mean ‘no progress’ in Pearl Beach. There were those who thought that the next steps should be in the direction of greater suburbanisation. However, Pearl Beach preferred trees to curbs and gutters. There was a growing awareness that the confined space of the valley, with its creeks and lagoon, its encircling national park and nature reserves, would not support a large population or too much modern development. Progress in Pearl Beach came to mean the ability to sustain a bushland environment, a peaceful place to live, somewhere to get away from the excitements of modem life – though in time the Progress Association would also campaign for better mobile phone reception and access to fast Broadband.
To celebrate 80 years of continuous work by the Pearl Beach Progress Association, local resident and historian, Beverley Kingston prepared a small book Pearl Beach & Progress – the story of a community and an ideal 1929-2009. Copies can be ordered from the author (02) 4341 2569 or email bevkingston[at]optusnet.com