When we first Started looking at the History of the Auburn Bowls Club. We had a fantastic starting point in our Centenary book from 1986. At the back of that it there is a small sentence, about our future.
“The speed of social change in this day and age is increasing so at rapidly it would be rash to claim that one can predict the future of any organisation with any great degree of certainty”
In the 30 years that have passed we have seen the internet start off, and bloom, websites, and social media are now the norm. We can only hope we take what has been presented to us in the form of this club and advance further.
All efforts to locate minutes of meetings of the Committee or of General Meetings of members of the Auburn Bowling Club in the years from its foundation to the turn of the century have been fruitless. Annual Reports for most years in that period are available and they, together with records of other organisations that shed light on the formation and development of the Club in the nineteenth century.
The Booroondara Standard September 16, 1887 reported.
The Auburn Bowling Club held its annual general meeting on Friday last at Watts’ Hall, Auburn.
All other evidence available leaves no doubt that this was the Club’s First Annual General Meeting. The report also mentions:
It was determined that the annual dinner of the Club should be held at Anderson’s Cafe, Glenferrie, Thursday, the 22nd instant.
September was thus a very significant month in 1887 for the members of the Club, and it was to be so until 1907, for all Annual General Meetings to that year were September meetings.
A vote of thanks was passed at the meeting to the retiring officers, special mention being made of the services rendered by Messrs. Frank Stuart, F. Ross and Geo Wharton. More is known about Frank Stuart’s involvement in the business and political arenas than about his bowling prowess. Apparently his first love in sport was golf – he was a foundation member of the Victoria Golf Club – for the name of this first President of Auburn Bowling Club does not receive any special mention in records relating to the Club in later years.
Francis Ross, a prominent stock and station agent, in a letter to the Committee dated 18th September 1901 wrote:
I may say that I suppose that I have done more for the club than anyone else. The project of its formation originated with me and the club was formed by Mr D. Moffat and myself at the cost of a great deal of labour.
Allowing for the fact that one’s deeds are apt to take on increased greatness over time, the special acknowledgement of the services of Francis Ross at the first annual meeting apparently was warranted.
Little is known of Geo Wharton other than that, like Francis Ross, his service on the Committee extended beyond the year 1886-87.
The press report also included the names of the President, Secretary, Treasurer and other members of the Committee elected to office for the year 1887-88. Records of the Hawthorn Bowling Club reveal that many of those elected to office were previously members of that club, and that some had played a prominent part in the administration of it. This was especially true of Augustus Fritsch, Cr. Jas Swan and Mr. D. McLaren Moffat, the person referred to in the letter written by Francis Ross in 1901. At the Annual Meeting of the Hawthorn Club on 31st May 1884, Augustus Fritsch was elected Vice-President, Cr. J. Swan President, and D. McLaren Moffat as a member of the Committee. At the following Annual Meeting D. McLaren Moffat was elected President of the Hawthorn Bowling Club and held that position until 11th June 1886.
Auburn’s Annual Report for the year 1890-91 reports the departure from the club of “Mr. McLaren Moffat one of the founders and Hon. Secretary of the Club from its inception”.
Why did he and other prominent members of the Hawthorn Bowling Club become founders of Auburn? The correct answer to this question may never be known. However, it seems likely that one factor contributing to the taking of the decision to form Auburn Bowling Club may have been dissatisfaction with the state of the greens at Hawthorn.
In June 1885 Kew and Hawthorn Bowling Clubs began the practice of combining for their annual dinner. In the report on the first of these combined dinners in the Kew and Hawthorn Express June 12, 1885, it was indicated that each of the clubs reported on their year’s activities to those assembled.
The report of the Secretary of the Hawthorn Club stated that much annoyance had been caused by the frequent changes of caretaker (greenkeeper), the post at present being but temporarily filled.
A special general meeting of the members of Hawthorn Bowling Club was called for Saturday 14th November 1885 but from the records examined it has not been possible to discern why the meeting was called. It can only be surmised that it was in response to concern about the green. If it was, the desired solution for securing a better green was not produced, for ten months later some Committee members, after inspection of the green, requested the Secretary to call a meeting of the Committee forthwith. At that meeting
it was decided that no time be lost in securing the services of a competent man to take charge of the green.
Street directories of the time indicate that a number of the founders’ residences were closer to the site of the new bowling club than to that of Hawthorn. Not all of Hawthorn Bowling Club members so situated chose to change their membership to the new Auburn Bowling Club in 1886; some refrained from doing so for two or three years. Dissatisfaction? Distance? Neither of these? The motivation for the formation of Auburn Bowling Club is still a matter of conjecture.
The newly-formed Club was fortunate in having amongst its members Augustus Fritsch who made available land fronting Fritsch’s Road (now Bowler Street) on lease. Details of the lease are not available but the generosity of Mr. Fritsch in “giving us the use of the land free of rent for the year” is acknowledged in the Tenth Annual Report presented in September 1896. To the young club faced with difficulties in the depression of the nineties this was no small gift.
The Thirteenth Annual Report of the Club presented in September 1899 recorded the death of Mr. A. Fritsch, “a much esteemed member”, and contained a notice to the members that the Committee h(ld successfully negotiated with the Executors of the Will of the deceased member.
a lease for three years at six pounds ( £6) per annum and an undertaking to grant renewal for a further term of two years at the same rental, provided they are in a position to do so.
The section of the Report dealing with this matter includes the statement
Your Committee trust that every member will keep in mind the fact that the Club has now to pay a rental for the property.
Thus it appears that Mr. Fritsch’s generous action of 1895-96 may have been repeated in subsequent years.
The approach to the Executors for an extension to the lease resulted in an offer
to sell the Club the piece of land having a frontage to Fritsch’s Road of about 130 feet by a depth of 305 feet or that extent of depth which includes the land at present occupied by the Club for the sum of £ 162-10-0 cash down, this being at the rate of 25 shillings per foot for the Fritsch’s Road frontage – or – as an alternative to give the Club a new lease for a further term of three years with the option of purchasing the same land at any time during the three years for the sum of £ 195 – being at the rate of thirty shillings per foot for the Fritsch’s Road frontage.
The Committee resolved to recommend to the Annual Meeting to be held in September 1901 that the offer of purchase at the sum of one hundred and sixty-two pounds ten shillings be accepted, that the property be purchased in the name of trustees to be appointed at the meeting, that a sum of twelve pounds ten be paid out of funds in hand, that the remaining one hundred and fifty pounds be borrowed from one or more members willing to lend, and that the trustees give a mortgage over the property to one or more members lending the amount required. Interest to be paid on the sum borrowed at the rate of five per cent per annum. An alternative procedure for raising funds by issuing debentures of one pound each to members did not need to be considered. An offer received from Mr. John Holzer to lend the Club on a mortgage of the land for a term of seven years the sum of one hundred and fifty pounds at five per cent interest with the option of paying off each year so much of the principal as the Club may desire was accepted at the Annual Meeting 1901. Prior to that meeting the Secretary wrote to some Members of Parliament from whom a total of six guineas (3.9% of the £ 162-10 needed) was received. Apparently some or all of the retired members of the Club were also approached for donations, for the claim concerning his part in the formation of the club by Francis Ross (see above) was made in a letter of reply to one from the Secretary seeking contributions.
At a meeting of the Committee on 14th October 1901 the Secretary reported that the purchase of the land had been completed at the price of one hundred and sixty pounds instead of one hundred and sixty two pounds ten shillings and the Transfer was now being registered. The reduced cost arose from the fact that the actual frontage purchased was one hundred and twenty-seven feet eight inches, not one hundred and thirty feet.
No further interest in the purchase of land is evident until 1923 when at the June meeting of the Committee the President indicated that discussion with the owner of a block of land at the rear of the Club had revealed that he would be prepared to accept one hundred pounds for it. However within a few days the owner indicated that he was unable to sell the property.
In 1927 a transfer of a small portion of land at the south-east corner of the property was made to the Hawthorn Council to facilitate the rounding of the corner at the intersection of the north side of Bowler Street and Munro Street.
The Annual Report for the year 1927-28 contained a suggestion that the two blocks to the south end of the property which had not been a source of revenue should be sold.
A goodly sum will result. Purchase a block to the west where the gymkhana was held and you will not only have better conditions but enough money to get out of debt and own your own premises.
So ran the advice to members.
The Committee at its October meeting 1928 raised these issues about land:
(i) Should the vacant blocks at the south end of the property be sold?
(i) Should the vacant blocks at the south end of the property be sold?
(ii) The possibility of purchasing land west of the green where the gymkhana was held.
(iii) Should the whole property be sold and a site more suitable secured and so enhance the prospects of the Club?
All of these issues were left over for further consideration.
On receiving evidence that the owner of the land on the west of the green, Mr. Cave, was prepared to sell, a sub-committee negotiated for the purchase of land one hundred and eighty-six feet by eighty feet for one hundred and fifty pounds and paid a deposit of five pounds. Their action was endorsed by the Committee on 20th November 1928. On 26th March 1928 the purchase of filling and the spreading of same to meet the surveyor’s requests were authorized. The Annual Report 1928-29 contained a statement that the land had been purchased. However the purchase was not finalised until 1932.
An important factor in the long delay in the finalization apparently was that of getting access to funds which the Committee in 1928 had put into a special trust fund for building purposes. Access was finally achieved through the efforts of Mr. W. Eadie to whom a vote of thanks was moved at a meeting of the Committee on 25th March 1932. At that meeting it was resolved that
the completion of the purchase of the land on our west side be left in the hands of Mr. Eadie; that the block of land be fenced. the extra rinks put down, and the lighting of the green be attended to.
Three days later Mr. Eadie reported completing the purchase of the land for one hundred pounds. making a saving of forty-five pounds on the previous contract. Five pounds had been paid as a deposit and the remainder was to be paid by 18th June 1932. These amounts were duly passed for payment.
During 1928 and 1929 enquiries from estate agents with regard to the possible sale of the blocks on the southern end of the property were met with the reply, “We do not wish to sell land in Bowler Street”. The decision to sell and pay off the mortgage was taken at the Annual Meeting held on 25th July 1934. In the intervening years of economic depression every effort was made to secure revenue from the land and a deaf ear turned to the overtures from estate agents to sell it.
In 1953 the Committee purchased a block of land running from Fletcher Street to the club boundary for five hundred pounds on which a cottage was later built for the greenkeeper.
In 1964 it was suggested that certain properties for sale in Roseberry Street be purchased for provision of further greens. However before the Committee could arrange a satisfactory source of finance for their purchase and secure an assurance of local government approval for the proposed use of these properties, they were sold.
In 1968 concern about the possibility of future building of multistoried flats on sites adjoining our western boundary led to the decision to investigate the possibility of securing one or more of these properties. By the 86th Annual Meeting, 3rd July 1972, the Committee was able to report purchase of Nos. 23, 25 and 29 Fletcher Street. No. 27 was not available for purchase.
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.
AUBURN LADIES “A” PENNANT, PREMIERS 1958-69
Front Row (from left) Mesdames G. Courtney, I. Scott, 0. Baker, M. de Jarlais, E. Massey, B. McCallum Back Row: Mesdames F. Collins, E. Alexander, E .. McKibbin, M. Fothergill, N. Barnes, J. Bibby.
Absent -Mrs G. Holzer
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.
Financing the Club’s Operations
The basic source of revenue for a club is that of subscriptions paid by members. Initially, the Auburn Bowling Club Rules provided for three categories of members:
(i) Full Members who were to enjoy full privileges of the Club upon payment of an annual subscription of one guinea.
(ii) Country Members whose annual subscription was ten shillings and six pence, and who were not eligible to compete for prizes or to hold office, or to play in matches.
(iii) Life Members, admitted on the payment of ten guineas.
The press report of the Club’s First Annual Meeting indicates that members in the first year numbered fifty, but there is no evidence available to indicate the numbers in each of the above-mentioned categories.
The Third Annual Report, however, in stressing the need for new members reminded existing members
We still have upon the roll a number of gentlemen who never attend and have kindly assisted the Club by paying subscriptions for which they have received no return except the honor of being associated with the Auburn Bowling Club … We anticipate that some 8 or 10 names now on the list will not appear again.
Thus even in the earliest days of the Club’s existence uncertainty about the extent of income that could be raised from membership subscriptÂions was evident and it is not surprising that attention was turned to other means of raising funds.
In the years that have passed since 1899 the categories of membership have changed and the subscriptions attached to the categories varied. There does not appear to have been any particular principle that has been consistently applied in deciding the extent of such variations and at no time has the revenue from subscriptions been sufficient to meet anything in excess of normal operating expenses.
The granting of a liquor licence to the Club in 1888 was an event of great significance. Reference has already been made to the fact that the additional income from “sale of refreshments” enabled the Committee to add an extra room to the pavilion.
Generous donations from twelve members in the year 1890-91 enabled the reduction of “the overdraft at the bank” by twenty pounds, but in the remaining years of the depression of the nineties profits derived from the bar enabled the Club “to keep open the Green”. By September 1898 the Committee was able to report a profit from the bar for the year of forty-five pounds and that
mainly through this means … the debt of the Auburn Bowling Club has become a thing of the past.
The management of the bar has not been without problems. Strict business principles have not always been applied to such matters as staffing and fixing of prices, and often voluntary service in dispensing of drinks has been left to a few. At the Committee Meeting held on 4th July 1910.
a general discussion took place as to the advisability of closing up the bar so far as the sale of liquor is concerned, and raising the subscriptions for membership, but these matters were left for members to decide at the Annual Meeting.
The minutes of the Annual Meeting, 20th August 1910, do not contain any reference to this matter and it is indeed fortunate that this proposal was not pursued further. Bar profits have been a significant element in the Club’s revenue and over many years enabled the members’ subscriptions to be kept at a low level. The revenue derived from this source together with debenture subscriptions have made possible the servicing of Joans secured to purchase land and develop the Club’s property.
The mortgage loan secured from Mr. J. Hozer in 1901 to enable the initial purchase of land was extended in 1906 to three hundred pounds to enable payment due on the previous loan and of outstanding amounts on the billiard table which was seen at the time as an important source of income. The mortgage was discharged in 1918, and a further loan secured at that time from A.H. Holzer. Part of the proceeds of the sale of land in 1935 was used to repay the four hundred pounds borrowed and a clear title to the land was obtained.
Mortgage loans to facilitate the purchase of property in Fletcher Street and the additions and alterations to the (pavilion) club house in the sixties were obtained from the E.S. & A. Bank Limited. By the 30th April 1967 the extent of the loan from this source was $12,242. The loan was fully repaid by 1980.
The Club invested in War Bonds during the Second World War and in Commonwealth Treasury Bonds in the years immediately after. By 1958 the total invested was £1600. The liquidation of these bonds further assisted payment for development of the property.
Enthusiasm displayed at meetings towards proposals to raise money through the issue of debentures has not been matched by action in response to requests to subscribe. The decision in 1953 to raise five thousand pounds by issue of debentures at an interest rate of four per cent was met with a poor response, only two thousand eight hundred and fifty pounds being subscribed by the end of the 1954-55 financial year. In 1957 the rate of interest was raised to five per cent and a better response was secured. However provision for the purchase of debentures by instalments suggested by G.C. Doig proved to be a very successful innovation. Much work was done by that member and G. Dillon in collecting instalments and keeping the appropriate records. This work they continued to do throughout the sixties and in later years were aided in their labours by L. Willis.
Only one attempt to raise revenue by the imposition of a levy is recorded. This was made at a Special General Meeting on 18th June 1931 when a motion was put forward that a levy of one pound be made on all members of the Club. The motion was not put as the Chairman ruled that the Rules of the Club did not contain any provision of power to do so.
Gifts from members in answer to appeals from Presidents have however at various times been significant.
Our History of Playing the sport of Lawn Bowls
The report in the Booroondara Standard September 16, 1887 on the Club’s first Annual General Meeting indicates that serious intra-club competitions were held in its fust bowling season. The following prizes are listed as having been presented: Mr. Stuart’s prize to Mr. C .J. Balcer; Mr. Swan’s prize to Mr. Vincent; Mr. McFee’s prize to Mr. Hanson and the champion medal to A. Fritsch.
The only information discovered about Auburn’s second season of bowling is that contained in the Kew and Hawthorn Express March 9 1888, which revealed that Mr. C. Luff defeated Mr. H. Holzer for the President’s prize and that
the competition for the Club’s champion medal resulted in some good play. Mr. E.L. Ault and Cr. McFee (President) keeping in to the last, when after a well-contested game, the president proved victorious by nine points, the game standing at 31-22.
Thus the belief long-held that the Club Championship was not played for in 1886-87 and 1887-88 was not correct. In fact, Annual Reports reveal that there were only two years in which the Club Championship was not part of the bowling programme.
Paucity of members and consequent barrenness of the exchequer
was the explanation given in the Eighth Annual Report for the Committee’s decision “not to offer a Champion Medal this season” and in the following year there were no contests for prizes. The President and the three Vice Presidents were requested
to allow the amounts offered by them to be applied towards reducing the debt.
Their response was one of agreement and malcing additions to the sums that would have otherwise been used for prizes.
In 1887-88 Auburn joined the V.B.A., the twenty-third club to do so.
Nothing is known about the extent of its success in that year.
In its second year of participation in V.B.A. games, the Club played in twelve games, winning five of them. Thirty-one players participated in these games, and while there was some measure of satisfaction expressed with the results, the Third Annual Report 1888 stressed
the importance of more assiduous practice without which it will be impossible to attain any great success in the inter-club matches.
The report indicated that selecting teams for the games was no easy matter, especially in a young club where a great many players “are about equal in skill”. Consideration had been given by the selectors to placement “so as to please as far as is possible everyone concerned”, and an aim was “to give every member of the Club a fair opportunity of participating in the matches”. Winning had been considered of secondary importance.
The Club’s bowling performance in the 1890’s began with a disastrous season in 1890-91. Only one win was recorded in the fifteen matches played. This unsatisfactory result was attributed to “the fact that we had scarcely any rink practice”.
The following year, according to the Annual Report presented on 8th September, “a system of Pennant Matches was inaugurated by the Bowling Association” and the Club was credited with seven wins in the thirteen matches played. This was to be the Club’s best year in the Pennant competition for that decade.
The first Pennant success for Auburn bowlers was to be the winning of their section in 1907-08, following a very pleasing performance in the previous season when, in a play-off for section honours, they were beaten by M.C.C.
In his comments about Auburn in The Handbook of the Sixth Bowling Carnival 1927, John P. Munro wrote
Although of a good size, the Club has rarely been very prominent in the competition for Association blue-ribbon events.
At that time that statement could not be seriously challenged. However, as the following table shows, successes since 1927 have considerably improved Auburn’s bowling image.
|Champion of Austalasia
|Premiers, Division 1
|Victorian Singles Champion
|G. De V. Bosisto
|Australian Singles Champion
|G. De V. Bosisto
|Champion of Champions
|G. De V. Bosisto
|Victorian Pairs Champions
|G. De V. Bosisto
|Victorian Singles Champion
|G. De V. Bosisto
|Australian Singles Champion
|G. De V. Bosisto
|Australian Singles Champion
|G. De V. Bosisto
|Champion Fours “C” Grade
|G. Jordan etc.
|Premiers Reserve Grade 1
|Victoria “B” Grade Singles Champion
|Premiers Division “4”
|Victorian Reserve Grade Singles Champion
|Victorian Reserve Pairs Champions
|Metropolitan Open Pairs Champions
|Premiers Division “4”
|Group 13 Triples
|Group 13 Pairs
|Group 13 Triples
|K. J. Kealy
|Group 13 A.F. Mixed Pairs
|J & B.A Briffa
|Group 13 Premier Fours
|J & B.A Briffa
|H.V. & M. Beaumont
|Winners Division 4 Group 13
|Winners Group 13 over 60’s Pairs
|Winners State Over 60’s Pairs
|Winner Group 13 Singles
|State Rep Singles Over 60’s
|Winners Group 13 Pairs
|Runners Up State Pairs
|Division 3 Runners Up
|Section Winners Division 2 Section 5
|Yarra Region Champion of Champions
The number of sides participating in Pennant bowls for Auburn increased to two in 1903-04, and remained so until the 1933-34 season. An increase at this time was to be expected as additional rinks had been developed and there was increased emphasis on willingness to bowl as a qualification for admission to membership of the Club. For some reason, not obvious, only two sides were entered in the competition in 1938-39 and this was the size of the Club’s representation until 1943- 44 and 1944-45 when three sides were entered.
The end of World War II saw an increase in the number of sides entered by Auburn in Pennant games. The rise continued until by 1959-60 there were six sides playing. Participation to this extent continued until 1977-78 when the decision to revert to an entry of five sides was taken.
In all of the first thirty seasons in these post-war years, save that of 1959-60, Auburn’s No. 1 Side was in the top division of the Pennant competition. Unfortunately, since 1975-76 only once has this been the case, in the season 1979-80.
With such increased involvement in compeition, it is not surprising that a more impressive record of achievements than that which existed at the time J.P. Munro wrote has been developed.
Augustus Fritsch was the first member of the Club to be selected to represent the V.B.A. This was in New Zealand in the 1889-90 season. The member’s selection was proudly acknowledged in the Fourth Annual Report in which the following assertion was made
The rink in which he played was the most successful of the Victorian team, a result which the captain states was largely due to the excellent play of the Auburn representative.
In the 1898-99 season H.G. Garnham was selected as one of the captains in the side selected to play in the intercolonial matches against New South Wales. The Annual Report for that year indicates that Garnham’s play was most highly commended and that his rink scored ninety-four points in the three games played, to the forty-seven points total achieved by their opponents.
Reports in later years also record with pride the selection of the undermentioned Auburn players to represent their State, but without comment about their performances:
|R. Scott, H.L. Holzer, W. Dwyer
|A. McCay, W. Dwyer, R.L. de Jarlais
|W.P. Eadie, R. L. de Jarlais, J. Daly, W. Dwyer
|G. de V. Bosisto, J. Daly, W.P. Eadie
|G. de V. Bosisto, J. Daly, W.P. Eadie, W. Dwyer, N. Hallet
|G. de V. Bosisto, J. Daly, W. Dwyer
|R.L. de Jarlais, A. Weston
Although V.B.A. Pennant games were introduced in the 1891-92 season, these were not the only games to which much importance was attached at this time. The Club was a regular but not successful participant in competitions for highly valued trophies, especially those provided by V.B.A. Presidents, Moss, Aitken and Wood during the nineties and the first decade of this century.
Friendly contests against neighbouring clubs have always been part of bowls at Auburn, many carrying no reward other than the enjoyment of competing against “good blokes”. This has been particularly true of the Wednesday afternoon games since 1945-46. Managers of these games, T. Sandford, G. Jordan, S. and H. Barker, L. de Jarlais and G. Alexander, and more recently J. Newcombe have taken great pains to ensure that participants in the Wednesday afternoon games experienced keen competition and good fellowship.
Inter-club games between Auburn and numerous country bowling clubs have taken place since the Club’s formation, the earliest recorded being games against Healesville in 1897. Clubs as far away as Albury have been visited for such games and return games either played in the same season or the following one.
Longest associations with country clubs for such games are those with Kyneton from 1924 to 1936, Wendouree from 1951-52 to 1971-72 and the continuous association with Trafalgar since 1973-74.
The installation of electric light on the green in 1912 led to the introduction of an Electric Light Tournament in 1913. Prize money for the tournament that year was: Winners Eight pounds; Runners-Up Four pounds; Third Prize Two pounds; Fourth Prize One Pound.
Success attended the efforts of the organizers and continued to do so, and it seems that this is why Auburn was chosen in Victoria’s Centenary Year 1934-35 for an electric light game organized especially for the Centenary Visitors. However, the end to the unbroken run of this event was to come when the decision was taken at a Special Meeting in October 1935
that the Club forgo the tourney on account of the date allotted.
Another special tournament organized by Auburn early in this century was that of a Pairs Tournament inaugurated during the Easter Holidays 1905. Forty-three entries were received and the financial result of “this first attempt at running a tournament of this description” (Nineteenth Annual Report) was “a credit balance of £ 3 -8 -3.”
Approval to run this tournament was again received from the V.B.A. in 1906 and also in 1907. The results in this third year were disappointing, the net financial gain to the Club being only ten shillings. The Committee at it’s meeting of 8th April 1907 resolved
to make a strong recommendation to its successors for the discontinuance of the Easter Tournament.
There was an attempt to revive this event in 1909, but the receipts in that year exceeded expenditure by only five shillings.
The end of the Electric Light Tournament did not mean the end of electric light bowling at Auburn. Inter-club games, games against various social club bowlers, and games in which members and visitors from other clubs participate have found prominent place in the fixture books for many years. The system of lighting installed in 1912 was replaced in 1915 by what was considered a technically superior system. The last recorded change of the total system was that made in 1948- 49, indicating the importance of night games in the bowling calendar at that time.
However by 1959-60 concern was expressed about the fact that costs of night bowls were not being fully met with fifty-six players or less participating (Annual Report 1959-60). By 1973 attendances at night games had fallen sufficiently for the Committee to decide on 17th December
that night games be mixed rinks and that these games be played as twilight games until daylight saving is over.
Since then, this has been the general pattern of night bowls at Auburn, variations occurring only when social club bowlers were entertained.
Beginning with the 1886-87 season, Championships and Handicaps open only to members of the Club were all single-handed events.
It was not until 1963-64 that approval was given for the introduction of the Baker Pairs Handicap. Pairs for this event are selected on the basis of a rating of all participants made by the handicappers and the use of these ratings to form pairs considered to be of about equal ability. Each year the trophy for the winning pair has been provided by the member who suggested that the event be instituted, Mr C. Baker.
In 1965-66, the Club Pairs Championship for the Vice-President’s Trophy was introduced in Lieu of a single-handed handicap event, and the “B” and “C” Championships were replaced by the Minor Championship.
Of course the most prestigious event is the Club Championship. An examination of the Table of Club Chamapions below will reveal that twenty-two players have succeeded in winning this event more than once, and that T. Sandford won it eight times.
Lady Bowling Members
The Twentieth Annual Report of the Committee which was presented on 3rd September 1906 contains the statement
Provision has been made for lady members and your Committee trust to see the fair sex well represented on the bowling green next season.
Prominence had been given in the Annual Report three years previously to
the attendance of ladies at the green on three or four occasions during the season
and to the interest they had displayed in the game. A recommendation was made to the incoming committee
to continue to encourage attendance of ladies at the green.
Apparently the interest of the fair sex was sustained. In the Annual Report August 1907, the Committee reported that
the ladies have joined freely and have met with no little success in their matches with other Ladies Clubs.
The Committee of Management was keen to ensure that a serious approach be made to bowling by the Lady Members. At the meeting of the Committee held on 19th December 1906 it was decided
that the Lady Members be requested to arrange for Championship and Lady President’s Trophy events as early as possible.
The Auburn Ladies Bowling Club -this title was given to this section of the members for identification purposes in competition -became one of the six clubs then in existence in Melbourne which formed the Victorian Ladies Bowling Association in 1907. The following year V.L.8.A. clubs played for their first pennant. Lady Members at Auburn at this time numbered eighteen. In 1909 they won the V.L.8.A. pennant for the first time but they had to wait until 1923 to be so successful again. This was followed by top division premierships won in 1926, 1928, 1929, 1935, 1936, 1948, 1950, 1954, 1958 and 1959.
In addition B Pennant Premierships were won in 1944 and 1951, a C Pennant Premiership in 1945 and D2 and Dl Pennants in 1974 and 197 6 respectively.
This is a splendid record when one considers that it was not until 1933 that an extension of the membership list for ladies to thirty was authorized, 1947 when a further extension to thirty-six was permitted and 1968 before the limit was raised to fifty.
By 1959 members of the Club had also won the Proportional Singles of Victoria six times, the State Pairs Championship five times, the State Fours Championship eight times, the Novice Pairs of Victoria twice, the State Mixed Pairs Championship three times and the State Mixed Rinks Championship on two occasions. Since then additions to this fine list of achievements have included one win in each of: State Singles, Metropolitan Championship, Proportional Singles of Victoria, and the Metropolitan State Pairs Championship.
The coveted trophy, The Helen Bridgeford Charity Shield was also won by fours from Auburn in seasons 1955-56 and 1983-84.
But the story of success on the part of members of the Auburn Ladies Bowling Club does not end here.
Australian titles have been won by Mrs. E. McKibbin (pairs twice and fours once), Mrs. I. Scott (pairs twice, fours once), Mrs. Braham (pairs once), Mrs. J. Bibby (singles once) and Mrs. F. Collins (pairs once).
The outstanding record of Mrs. G. Holzer would be difficult to equal. Champion of the Club twenty-two times, State Singles Champion seven times and Champion of Champions once, and a participant in eleven of the Club’s thirteen top pennant wins; she was also President of the Auburn Ladies Bowling Club for two years and Secretary for seven years.
In the two years that Mrs. Holzer was President she was also Champion. Only three other ladies have won the Championship while they were President, Mrs. M. de Jarlais, Mrs. N. Jenkins, and Mrs. J. Bibby.
At the administrative level, few sporting bodies could boast of a member being elected to the position of Secretary for thirty-five consecutive years. Auburn Ladies Bowling Club can; the lady – Mrs. 0. Baker.
Mrs. J. Bibby, Champion of the Club eight times, Singles Champion of Australia 1959, was State President of V.LBA. 1959, succeeded Mrs. E. McKibbin who held the position of State Treasurer of that organization from 1946-1971. Mrs. Bibby still holds that office and in August 1982 was made a Life Member of the Association for her service to bowls in Victoria. It is fitting that Mrs. Bibby and Mrs. Baker should be holders of the offices of President and Secretary of the Auburn Ladies Bowling Club in the year in which the Club as a whole has so much to celebrate.
At the Annual Meeting of the Auburn Bowls Club in 1950 it was decided
that the Ladies Bowling Club may appoint Honorary Life Members with the approval of the General Committee, in which case no subscription will be payable by such a member of the Club.
At the Annual Meeting of the Auburn Bowls Club, 20th July 1979, Mrs. 0. Baker, Mrs. J. Bibby and Mrs. M. Fothergill became the first Lady Members to be elected as Honorary Life Members of the Club.