Beecroft-Cheltenham History Group

 

Beecroft bowling clubW

 

As with tennis, a number of the landholders at the beginning of the twentieth century had their own bowling greens. These included (both in 1912) Frederick Mason in Hull Road and Mr Harry O Holcombe who used his lawn tennis court in Copeland Road as a rink upon which to play bowls. In Cheltenham both William Harris of Edensor and William Chorley of Mount Pleasant each had their own greens.

In October 1912 Mr Harris donated some 2 acres of land adjacent to his home to form a recreation club at which bowls and other sports would be played.

At the same time, living in Beecroft was John Wallace the Treasurer of the NSW Bowling Association and he encouraged the calling of a public meeting which was held on 10 March 1913 to form a bowling club in that suburb. At this meeting the inaugural committee was formed of W D Schrader (Solicitor), Henry Little (real estate agent) Frederick Mason (builder), Mr Stobo (storekeeper) and John Lawrie.

Despite Cheltenham having the earlier public meeting the history of the Beecroft Club records: "it had been hoped to obtain many members for the Bowling Club from the Cheltenham end of the district which would have made the financing of the construction and maintenance comparatively easy; indeed Cheltenham was represented at the initial meeting in March 1913. But shortly after it was announced that Mr W H Harris had generously made available for purposes of a Recreation Club part of his property adjoining Cheltenham Railway Station. So the Beecroft Club shrugged its shoulders, wished the Cheltenham movement good luck and prepared to face up to its commitments with cheery optimism."3.

Just as Mr Harris was a generous benefactor and keen bowler who supported bowling in Cheltenham, so the club in Beecroft was endowed by Mr Robert Vicars both in terms of additional land and funds to maintain and expand the club. In 1914 Mr Vicars donated a trophy for a competition between the Beecroft and Cheltenham clubs.

A ladies bowling club was not formed in Beecroft until 1937 (with women previously playing croquet) and in 1945 Mr E S O'Sullivan was appointed the Beecroft Club's first coach.

Membership numbers at both bowling clubs grew significantly throughout the 1950s to 1970s. Rinks were filled with players in white on both Saturdays and (during that latter part of that period) Sundays. At the commencement of the twenty first century the playing membership of the Beecroft Club began to contract and the club sold some of its land to the neighbouring primary school.

As with the tennis clubs, so during the first few decades of both bowling clubs, members found that social activities centred around their club. From the time of the First World War until it was sold in 1945, the piano provided considerable pleasure. Even two years after it was sold, the nature of social activities organised at the Beecroft Club meant that a vote to apply for a liquor licence was lost by 39 votes to 7. In reminiscing over the sale of the piano, Club member. Mr Lawrie wrote:

"The older generation will recall the happy evenings spent in the home around the piano or at a card table; or in the School of Arts, when Charlie McKern wielded a clever baton in some popular Musical Comedies; or on the long verandah of the [Beecroft] Club House, when some excellent musical and other entertainments were staged. A piano was very necessary to the success of these Club entertainments, and it was with some pride that members acquired a piano. And now, shades of Henry Levy and R T B Andrews, it was decided to sell the piano! How these worthy old timers used to coax sweet sounds from the instrument. Henry with a vigourous thumping rhythm and Andy with clever rippling fingers. How on special occasions, when the Croquet Club joined with the bowlers, Mrs Seale led off with 'God Save the King' and how on more hilarious occasions, with Andy at the piano, H O Holcombee's stentorian voice could be heard outstanding in 'For the More We are Together.' But now times are changed, and the piano was largely a silent instrument."4.

Despite smaller numbers, the players continue to enjoy their game.

  1.  J Arlott (ed) The Oxford Companion to Sports and Games (Oxford University Press, London, 1975) pp 605, 618
  2.  J Lawry Bowls in Beecroft (Beecroft, 1947) p 10
  3.  J Lawry Bowls in Beecroft (Beecroft, 1947) p 70

 

 

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