Thames War Memorial Civic Centre

Thames Memorial Civic Centre Thames Memorial Civic Centre Thames Memorial Civic Centre Thames Memorial Civic Centre

In 1947 the Thames War Memorial Committee resolved to build a community centre on the old gasworks site in Mary Street. This was to consist of RSA clubrooms, a women’s restroom, and a community hall. The Mayor of Thames, Mr S. Ensor, laid the foundation stone on 9 April 1954. The RSA clubrooms were opened in June 1953 and the women’s restrooms in December 1953; on 17 August 1954 Major-General Sir Norman Weir opened the war memorial hall. 

The lamp of remembrance and a handsome bronze plaque inscribed ‘1939 – 1945. We Will Remember Them’ were placed in the lobby. As far as is known, no Thames Second World War roll of honour was compiled. At first Anzac Day services were held at a temporary cenotaph placed in front of the hall, but on 25 April1962 a permanent cenotaph was built there. This was a low plastered concrete wall set on a concrete base and inset with several dedicatory plaques.

In 1999 the community centre was rebuilt. The hall was enlarged and extended and the rest rooms were demolished and replaced by a conference centre. Governor-General Sir Michael Hardie Boys opened the refurbished building, renamed the Thames War Memorial Civic Centre, on 12 March 2001. The lamp of remembrance and dedicatory plaque from the hall and the plaques from the original cenotaph were placed in a new memorial wall outside the main entrance.

After the demolition of the Kōpū hall in 2012, the Kōpū roll of honour was moved to the civic centre.

On 27 April 2019 a bronze statue of Air Chief Marshal Sir Keith Park (1892-1975) by sculptor Mark Whyte was also unveiled outside the centre. This supplemented other memorial items at the Sir Keith Park Memorial Airfield on the outskirts of town. The Thames-born Sir Keith had commanded the crucial No. 11 Group of the RAF Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain in 1940.

Sources: ‘Community Centre Foundation Laid’, Thames Star, 12/4/1954, p. 4; ‘Nine Years Planning’, Thames Star, 17/8/1954, p. 5; ‘Thames War Memorial Opened and Dedicated’, Thames Star, 18/8/1954, p. 5; ‘Large Crowd Fill New Centre for Community Ball’, Thames Star, 19/8/1954, p. 5; ‘Thames RSA Proposal to Erect Cenotaph’, Thames Star, 16/10/1957, p. 1; 'Handsome new cenotaph dedicated', Thames Star, 26/4/1962, p. 1; ‘War Memorial Hall Refurbishment 2000’ [unpublished album held at Thames Public Library]; From Gold Mine to Firing Line: "The Thames" and the Great War, 2014-2018, ed. Megan Hawkes, Thames, 2014; Althea Barker,Thames Memorials & Plaques, Thames, 2016, p. 28; 'Sir Keith Park to be memorialised with a bronze statue in hometown Thames', Hauraki Herald, 1/4/2019; 'Kiwi legend Sir Keith Park who "saved the world" honoured in his hometown', NZ Herald, 27/4/2019.

Community contributions

No comments have been posted about Thames War Memorial Civic Centre

What do you know?