At a meeting of the Richmond-Tweed Trades & Labour Council on 24 June 1954, it was decided to form a club to cater for the interests of the workers of Lismore and district. The club was to be known as the Lismore & District Workers Club. The Trades & Labour Council obtained a weatherboard cottage situated at 199 Keen Street Lismore, about two doors from the present site of the Cool Rocks Cellar opposite St.Paul’s Presbyterian Church. The asking price was three thousand pounds ($6,000.00). The club operated on a social basis for some time and in September 1955 there were sufficient members (slightly more than the required 100) to apply for a Liquor Licence.
On 26 June 1956 the Lismore Licensing Court granted a Certificate of Registration to the club. Around this time the club and the Trades & Labour Council went their separate ways and the club became an independent body.
Membership growth was rather slow at this time, as there was an entrance fee of five pounds five shillings ($10.50) and an annual subscription of one pound five shillings ($2.50). However, at the Annual General Meeting in 1956 it was decided to waive the entrance fee and since then the club has never looked back.
It soon became evident that the existing premises were inadequate. It was not possible to extend the site sufficiently, and in 1959 the club purchased from Bill Monaghan land and a weatherboard cottage at 231 Keen Street. The building was lifted above flood level and the upstairs redesigned to suit the needs of the members, whilst downstairs became a recreational area. Raising the cottage was done by Joe Risk, and Charlie Raison carried out the renovations. During this time membership stood at around 500.
The club’s popularity grew over the next twelve months and once again the clubhouse was found to be too small. Plans were prepared for more additions and every available piece of land owned by the club was utilised for these extensions, which were carried out by Robb & Brown Ltd at a cost of £25,000 ($50,000.00).
In April 1963 the adjacent property of 235 Keen Street was purchased from the Leben Estate for the sum of £4,900 ($9,800.00). This was needed to provide car parking space. Around the same time, with membership at 1850, further extensions were planned and two properties between the club and Trevans were purchased from Henry Peanna. One was a cottage and the other a small shop.
Architects Leslie J. Buckland and Druce of Parramatta were engaged to draw up plans, and tenders were invited for the construction. W.J.Green & Sons Pty Ltd of Casino were the successful tenderers with a price of £127,124.80 ($254,248.80). These extensions were officially opened by K.C.Compton, MLA, the then Minister for Lands and Member for Lismore, on Saturday 10 October 1964.
The club’s first billiard table was purchased from Frank Meany of Wardell in 1963 for the sum of £30 ($60.00). Others were purchased from the Nimbin School of Arts, the Hotel Moobal and the Lismore Club. Prior to the introduction of snooker into the club, regular pin pool competitions were conducted. Other entertainment included euchre, crib, darts and indoor bowls competitions on a weekly basis. Since the early 1960s cricket and baseball teams have represented the club in outdoor competitions, followed later by soccer, softball, rugby league, water polo etc. Apart from the above mentioned sports, the club also sponsors teams in golf (men’s and ladies’), bowls, men’s outdoor bowls, ladies’ indoor bowls, ten pin bowling, hockey, netball, touch football, basketball and fishing.
Further extensions were carried out in 1975, with Warren Samut engaged as the Architect. The successful tenderer was R & B Constructions. These extensions included a new Auditorium (where the existing Bistro is located), a new Bistro downstairs, a Gymnasium and Snooker Bar. These extensions were completed in December 1975 at a cost of $1,900,000.
By 1982 further extensions were undertaken incorporating the new Auditorium, re-locating the Bistro upstairs, providing Meeting Rooms 1 and 2 and Hideaway’ Room. A new entrance foyer was established and the Snooker Bar re-located. Once again the Architect was Warren Samut with R & B Constructions the successful tenderer. The cost of these extensions amounted to $3,500,000.
In keeping with the growth of Lismore and our ever increasing club membership, the club in recent years has been able to provide further benefits to members by expanding their memberships to two other clubs in the city. This was achieved through amalgamations, firstly with the Lismore Heights Bowling Club (renamed the Workers Heights Bowling Club), which took place in December 1994, and secondly with the Lismore Golf Club (now known as the Lismore Workers Golf Club), which took place in March 2000. The Workers Sports Club in Oliver Avenue Goonellabah became part of the Workers Group of clubs in May 2006. Workers Heights Bowling Club is no longer part of the Group of Clubs after de-amalgamation was finalised in November 2014.
In February 2003 the club commenced major renovations in both the Mirror Bar area downstairs and the Tudor Bistro upstairs at a cost of approximately $1,500,000. A construction period of just over three months saw the opening of the new bar and bistro.
In April 2017, the Lismore Workers Club was inundated on the ground level by flooding from the Wilsons River in a major flood event which impacted the Lismore CBD and surrounds. Thanks to a mammoth effort by staff and member of the board, much of the essential plant from the ground level of the main club was lifted during a 12 hour period before flood waters reached the club. The club still suffered significant damage and a refit which took six months.
In 2019 the Lismore Workers Auditorium was renovated and brought to modern standards, with all new furnishings, stage curtain, carpet and rendering. This also included a full overhaul of the audio visual systems in the room to include a state-of-the-art mapped projection and sound system.
The Lismore Workers Group continues to expand and diversify it’s assets with the purchase of the Ballina Palms Boutique Motel in 2020 and subsequent commercial properties in the Lismore Area in 2021 and 2022.
The club remains in an excellent position and continues to provide services to members and the wider Lismore Community.