Auburn Bowls Club Pavilion Development
Property Maintenance and Pavilion Development
Acquiring land is one thing, maintaining it and putting it to use is quite another matter.
Part of the land acquired from the executors of the estate of Augustus Fritsch was that to which the members had enjoyed access from the Club’s inception. The remainder fronting Fritsch’s Road (now Bowler Street) was soon fenced at a cost of eighteen pounds ten shillings met by donations from twenty seven members. To keep in check undesired growth on this section of the property the co-operation of a participant in another sport, -“the sport of Kings” -was required. In the Seventeenth Annual Report 1903, Mr. Thomas was thanked
for allowing his steeplechaser, ‘Creamy’, to keep down the growth of thistles etc. on the vacant portion of the Club’s grounds.
Spoil for the filling for this section of the property was obtained in 1904 and that task completed by 1905.
Until this land was sold in 1934 for five hundred and twenty-five pounds it appears that the Club received little revenue from it. In 1915 serious efforts were made to establish whether development of grass tennis courts on the land would attract sufficient players to make the formation of a tennis club “in connection with our bowling club” a worthwhile proposition. Results of investigation at this time are not recorded but the issue was again raised in 1925. A recommendation put to a Special General Meeting on 28th January 1926 that two courts be built did not receive the necessary support.
At the Annual General Meeting 1926, it was recommended that the land to the south end of the green be cleaned up and made a parking area for cars.
Some revenue was derived from this land between 1929 and 1934 by letting it for the grazing of horses.
The principal part of the land purchased in 1901 contained the green. The number of rinks prepared at this time is not known. However it is recorded that after the decision was taken to admit Lady Bowlers a clubroom for their special benefit was deemed necessary as was the making of a Croquet Lawn and two new rinks for bowls. In the Handbook of the Sixth Australian Bowling Carnival 1927 compiled by John P. Munro, B.A. the notes relating to Auburn state that at that time the green consisted of six rinks. There being no record of any additions to the rinks between 1901 and 1927 other than those made on the admission of Lady Members it seems that the rinks at the time of purchase numbered four.
Apparently the green was in a very satisfactory condition. By the 1895- 96 season it was sufficiently developed to permit play in the winter as well as in the summer months, and in the Annual Report presented in 1899 the assertion was made that “the other greens we had to play on were far from equal to our green”.
Credit for the development of the green was given to R. Ardagh who supervised the caretaker (greenkeeper) Michael O’Halloran.
When Ardagh in 1898-99 sought to be relieved of the care of the green the Committee had no hesitation in appointing O’Halloran to take up the responsibility at the renumeration of fifty-two pounds per year.
He continued to give satisfaction in this role until 1915 by which time he was receiving fifty shillings a week.
The preparation of a good green was not his only concern. In a letter dated 2nd August 1909 he wrote that he had heard that the Club was in financial difficulties and that subscriptions would have to be raised. He came to the conclusion that “this will most assuredly incur the loss of members to the green”. He continued.
To avoid this I have decided on my behalf to forego a small portion of my wages, say half-a-crown a week.
Further, he indicated that he was aware that the payment of ten shillings made annually to him for washing towels was due at that time and stated, “this also the Club may take to itself”.
Cec Weston whose service began in the 1952-53 season and ended with his retirement in August 1980 was the only other green keeper to serve Auburn for more than a decade. Like Michael O’Halloran, he was dedicated to the maintenance of good greens and together they shared that responsibility for years that span half of the time of the Club’s existence.
The completion of the main green after the purchase of land in 1932 and the development of the four rink green on property formerly known as 23 and 25 Fletcher Street in the first half of the seventies constitute the main additions to the playing area in the last fifty years. The latter of these additions has not only obviated the necessity for bankers to go to other clubs every Saturday to play but has also been available to those desirous of bowling on Saturdays during the winter months.
In April 1975 the only major rejuvenation of the main green recorded to that date was undertaken. Acting on advice from experts, including the Turf Research and Advisory Institute, the top one inch of the surface was stripped off, drainage improved, plinths lowered and reseeding undertaken. Continued efforts in subsequent years resulted in the development of a high standard green by the 1984-85 season.
In the early years of the Club’s existence when Mr. Ardagh supervised the preparation and maintenance of the green he also devoted considerable effort and personal expense to the development of the surrounds. In the Fourth Annual Report, September 1890, he was praised for having “transformed the unsightly wasteland into a beautiful garden”.
Little mention is made in the records of involvement of members in the care of the gardens until the 1960’s. Since then efforts of groups of men, usually retired and dubbed “the Wednesday weeders” have been acknowledged. Leaders of these groups have included Tom Slogget, Cec Polmear, Jack Gray and Harold King.
In recent years Harold King, with the assistance of other members has transformed the garden area. Like Mr. Ardagh, he brought to this work a background of experience in the field of horticulture. Both have been honoured by election to the office of President.
Little is known about the nature of the pavilion at the time of the purchase of the property formerly leased from Augustus Fritsch other than that it contained facilities for dispensing liquor. Apparently the Club lost little time after it’s formation in deciding that a licence would be valuable for it was granted to the Club on 17th October 1888. (The Act at this time did not permit the granting of a licence to any club until it had been in existence for at least two years).
The Annual Report of 1888-89 revealed that the introduction of the refreshment room had resulted in a considerable increase in income and enabled the Committee to add an additional room to the pavillion without entailing any appeal to the generosity of members.
At the Annual Meeting 1902 the Committee raised with the members the matter of improvements to the pavilion. This was left in the hands of a sub-committee with power to act. Their decision was to move the pavilion to a position opposite centre of the north end of the green – its position prior to this decision is not known -and to effect certain alterations and additions. Quotations for the completion of these plans were all considered too high and so a revision of them was made. The result was that the pavillion was moved to the stated position one foot above the ground, the south west portion of it was closed for a room with new flooring, lining, a window in front and another door in its east side.
In 1903 the sub-committee received approval for its recommendations that, instead of completing the improvements originally proposed, another room be built on to the back of the pavillion with a window in each end and the back wall of brick with a fireplace and that the whole building be roofed in iron. The total cost for this was estimated to be eighty pounds, “this amount to be raised by debentures among members”.
The implementation of the decisions of 1903 was to have a great bearing on future developments of the property. The club rooms today are really the end product of successive alterations and additions to the building which was established when the pavilion was relocated.
The Annual Report 1907 in referring to the presence of Lady Members included the assertion
It was deemed necessary to build a club room for their special benefit.
No details of this room have been found in the minutes of meetings of the Committee for that year but there is clear reference to alterations having been made to adequately accommodate a billiard table.
The able, bought on terms, cost seventy-five pounds and the alterations necessary to accommodate it twenty pounds.
The Annual Report 1907 indicated that this expenditure was considered by the Committee to be well justified. The table was described as
a splendid ornament and the source of much pleasure to the members while its income producing properties leaves little to be desired.
Gross receipts for the bar in the months of July and August 1906 were fourteen pounds eight shillings and one penny and for the same months 1907 were sixty-eight pounds five shillings and nine pence – the increase being undoubtedly due to the presence of the table.
To accommodate it, a partition had to be taken down which has proved beneficial as more space has been obtained for social purposes.
Electric lights were installed in the pavilion in 1912, and in 1914, due to the prompt action of H. Holzer, a cellar was provided in the bar and the erection of a shelter for the ladies in front of the pavilion completed.
In 1928 permission was given to the Ladies Bowling Club to erect a verandah on the east side of their rooms.
Extensions westward (of approximately sixteen feet) were approved in 1932 so that the billiard table could be stored for the winter; other social activities were more in demand at that time of the year.
An application by the Ladies for permission to extend their room and the investigations which followed therefrom resulted in the calling of a Special General Meeting on 30th March 1936 to consider two propositions in connection with the clubrooms:
(i) effect an extension to the Ladies Room
(ii) effect an extension to the Ladies Room(s) erect a completely new building
Those who favoured the second proposition argued that
the present Clubhouse was not in keeping with the excellence of he green.
that the total construction could be undertaken in three sections that posterity could pay for it a new building would only cost a paltry pound to twenty-five shillings a week.
Some doubt was cast upon the estimates of cost given by those favouring the erection of a new building.
Subsequently it was found that there was little chance of financing the whole scheme but that there was a possibility of getting bank finance for proceeding with one third of the project.
The result was that the permission for carrying out extensions to the Ladies Room was given on 28th September 1936.
One year later Bank finance to the extent of four hundred and fifty pounds was available for alterations and additions. Alterations costing three hundred and seventy-three pounds twelve shillings and six pence were begun in October 1936.
In August 1949 it was decided
that it being the opinion of this Committee that a new club-house be built at the earliest possible time, it is agreed that all maintenance expenditure, with the exception of necessary repairs be kept at a minimum with that end in view.
In keeping with this resolution, curtain screens were erected in the pavilion later in the year to form a change room.
However by 10th October 1953 it was evident that some general repairs were necessary and that alterations to the club house including:
(i) new lavatory accommodation
(iii) alterations to the front of the building
needed to be carried out. At a Special General Meeting held on that date it was decided to raise five thousand pounds by the issue of debentures to be applied to these repairs and alterations and towards the payments for the greenkeeper’s cottage. It was explained that the above works would be in conformity with a plan to rebuild the club house at a future time.
In February 1955 sketch plans of proposed alterations were drawn by Mr. G. Langmuir and accepted as a basis for the development of architect’s plans. Finance raised by the issue of debentures by the Annual Meeting in July 1955 was inadequate so the Committee was given power to borrow three thousand pounds from a bank so that the building of a new locker block could proceed. This was completed in 1956.
Alterations to the main hall, a new entrance to the club house, and the erection of a new bar constituted the next stage in the building programme -completed in the year 1964-65.
The Annual Report 1966-67 revealed that the master building plan was completed. The efforts of Leo De Jarlais and Life Member Fred Morsby in supervising the development were acknowledged in the Report and delight expressed that the erection of a brick wall at the eastern end of the club house had been carried out at no expense to the club. Materials had been purchased from donations by members, the Commemoration Stone donated by Arthur Eliott, and the labour provided by President, Ches Langdon, his son Peter and Bob Hoskings.
2b Munro St Hawthorn East 3123