HANDS OFF: RSL representatives from across the Northern Rivers have vowed to stop the sale of the Casino Drill Hall and convert it into a regional war memorial and museum.
HANDS OFF: RSL representatives from across the Northern Rivers have vowed to stop the sale of the Casino Drill Hall and convert it into a regional war memorial and museum. Jamie Brown

Casino wants historic drill hall as Defence plans to sell

THE sudden announcement that the historically significant Casino Drill Hall may be sold at auction on December 10 has caused an upwelling of frustration and anger in the community.

At the request of a senior RSL member, Casino Rotary vice-president Tony Hennessy has called a meeting of interested parties to stop the auction and allow the community to provide an alternative use for the building and site.

This has fired up RSL representatives from throughout the Northern Rivers to garner support for the preservation of the drill hall.

A public meeting will be held tomorrow night at the RSM Club in Canterbury St to gauge the level of enthusiasm for saving this important building, along with its land, and beyond that to enhance the site with a war memorial and museum that would showcase local war history from the district.

"If we don't deal with this and save the building it will be gone," said Mr Hennessy.

"It should be a memorial to those families that have relatives leave home in defence of their country and never come back."

The meeting will assemble at 5.30pm for a 6pm start.

RSL Sub-branch president Kevin Magnay described the historical value of the site as 'irreplaceable'.

"It's not just a building. It's not just a block of ground," Mr Magnay said.

"The decision to sell the land brings disrespect to the community and to those families that had members fight and never return."

Craig Yates, speaking on behalf of the 41st Battalion Association, said the building was originally built by the Light Horse Brigade in 1908 on land near the post office in Barker St before being relocated in the mid 1930s to its current location on sloping land to the south of the Richmond River on the Summerland Way.

Bill Mowle, vice-president of the City of Lismore sub-branch, said the site held significance for the wider Northern Rivers: Light Horse regiments from Casino, Tenterfield and Kyogle were based at Casino and used the hall for training.

The Department of Defence has offered a concert hall from Wallangarra Army Depot - provided the sub-branch pays for its transport and erection.