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Cossie stalwarts count the days

By Hayley Gastmeier and Geoff Vause

Clubs around the country are facing challenges to survive, and Masterton is no different.

The Cosmopolitan Club opened its doors in 1972 with huge support after a public meeting.

Two men, Lewis Thompson-Milne and Alan Stewart, wanted a workingmen’s-style club in the downstairs bar of the Pioneer Tavern on Queen St.

Club members used various social venues before stumping up the cash for their own premises.

“We were able to get the old billiard rooms and we had that as club rooms,” current club treasurer Alan Stewart said.

“We couldn’t get a liquor license. The members decided they wanted new club rooms and members put up money to get it going.”

Funds were also borrowed from the bank and a brewery.

“Eventually it all came together and in 1976 we opened in a much smaller premises than we’ve got now,” Mr Stewart said.

“We kept expanding the building and spending all our profits when we really weren’t growing our membership.

“We spent all our reserves on increasing the building at the same time the club was getting reduced patronage, and from there on it’s been a downhill slide.”

He said the club lost $74,000 last year alone.

This year the club is only down $20,000 because a deal was struck with site owner Trust House which took the building and gave the club free rent until the end of the year.

“We’re twice the age we were when we started it off 40 years ago, so we’ve got a lot of old members now… and times have changed.

“A lot of people are very disappointed but they’ve seen the reality, that the demand for the club has reduced from where it used to be.

“The members are older, the young ones don’t want that sort of facility nowadays.”

He said the club was a great facility for the town, with many events and funerals held there.

But providing these services costs the club too much money.

“The funds have dwindled away to nothing and now it’s about selling off what’s left.

“We’re not expecting much to be left over.”

November 27 is the club’s 40th anniversary on its Queen St site.

 

“I love the people here.”

 

Sadie Teal loves her job selling raffles at the Cossie Club. PHOTO/GEOFF VAUSE
Sadie Teal loves her job selling raffles at the Cossie Club. PHOTO/GEOFF VAUSE

Sadie Teal sells raffles at the club, and loves the friends she has made.

“It is very sad but we have to face facts,” she said.

“I’ll miss selling the raffles because it’s one of my ways of caring for people.

“I love the people here, I’ll miss them all very much.

“It’s such a warm and friendly place to come, and to bring friends.”

Eric Blake said “it’s a sign of the times, I’ll be sorry to see it go”.

Nigel McLean said he was also disappointed with the decision.

“It’s a sad reality, it’s happening to clubs like this everywhere.

“We’re not the only one around the country that’s struggling.”

Rick Macleod joked that he was sitting with Nigel “because he would have been sitting on his own otherwise”.

“We get great camaraderie here,” he said.

“There’s no rubbish, it’s a great venue. I’m disappointed, but it seems to be inevitable.”

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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