1968-1993 Our History – Edithvale Bowling Club Inc.


1. Give an insight into the history of the club – particularly the early days.

2. Back in 1968 a group of local residents felt there was a need for Edithvale to have its own bowling club.

3. A public meeting was convened by Mr. Harry Pierce and held at ELSC (Edithvale Life Saving Club) Hall on November 15, 1968. This meeting was chaired by the mayor of Chelsea, Mr. Bert Thomas and was attended by 39 residents.

4. It was at this meeting that the motion “that we form ourselves into the EBD (Edithvale Bowling Club), was duly passed.

5. A committee was elected compromising of:

President – Bert Thomas

Vice-Presidents – Doug Wright and Frank Colville

Secretary – Harry Pierce

Treasurer – Peter Dooley

Committee – Joe Cameron, Clarrie Harriage, John Campbell, Bern Shirley, Harry Langdon and Howard Dunkin. Howard Dunkink resigned after a short time and subsequently Frank O’Neill, Ken Kick and Allan Sutherland were added to the committee.

6. Membership subscription was set at $2.00.

7. A letter was sent out the City of Chelsea asking for the allocation of a suitable site.

8. Handbills were delivered to local homes inviting interested residents to join EBC and 73 attended the subsequent meeting.

9. Financing the development of the club was of course a major task and Howard Peters, a retired state bank manager, was elected to investigate the possibility of forming a cooperative society.

10. In addition to shares in the co-op, members were to be offered building debentures and of course the committee was very receptive to offers of interest free loans.

At each of our general meetings a raffle would be run – invariably for a prize donated by one of our generous members.

Many members made their homes available for fund raising evenings to try to help club funds. These social functions, barbeques and of course our strictly illegal bingo games at members’ homes all added to our little bank balance. A lot of older members will recall the bingo cards using 3 penny bits, buttons and pies of corn or anything available to cover their numbers.

11. The council has now allotted was considered a suitable site and here we are today on what was part of what was known as “the Edithvale swamp”. And a swamp it really was, with gumboots a prerequisite once you stepped off the road.

12. The land, by the way, is leased to the City of Chelsea by Melbourne Water (previously Dandenong Valley Authority) and rented to the EBC. The original rent was at $10.00 per annum, but I assure you that figure is certainly history.

13. So now the task of transforming our piece of ‘swamp land’ in a bowling club really started in earnest.

14. The Chelsea Council carted hundreds of yards of filling onto the site and anybody who had clean filling was invited to dump it here to help raise the site to the required level.

15. By June 1969 a site plan has been drawn up by the city engineers, Alan Neiman, making provision for 3 greens and the clubhouse.

16. Part of the site was leveled to initially provide for two greens and the club house.

17. Eventually a tender was let to Baker and Sons to construct our first two greens at a cost of just under $6000 each.

18. Of course at this stage we only had a name and our site, but not a great deal of money, certainly nowhere near enough to fulfill our plans so it was decided to make a deputation to Chelsea Council asking for loan of $50,000.

Harry Pierce, who was a past Mayor of the City of Mordialloc, and a very accomplished speaker, addressed the council for 25 minutes without as much as a single written note. He outlined details of our anticipated budget, covering such items as costs of greens, the building costs and out various means of income and the anticipated amounts.

19. Although the council gave our case further consideration, apparently Harry’s eloquence failed to woo our city fathers and our loan request was refused.

20. Hence it was now necessary for us to go it alone and seek other finance. The credit co-op was formed successfully and further money was raised by means of debentures taken out by the members. This put us in a position to approach the state bank who granted the loan which enabled us to proceed with our project.

21. 31st December 1969 was decided as the closing date for foundation members. The 147 names of these members are permanently stamped on the sundial at the northern end outside the clubhouse. This very fine gift was one of the many artistic handiworks of Bill Brothwell and kindly denoted by Bill and his wife Jean to our club. Tonight we have 43 of these foundation members present.

22. In May 1970 the first ladies’ committee was formed with

President – Del Peters

Secretary – Val Dolley

Treasurer – Grace Kirkpatrick

Although our ladies did not have a committee prior to this date, they have still been very active in helping to establish our club.

23. The first annual meeting at the EBC was held at the ELSC on the 29th of May 1970.

24. By now the first of our greens had the ditches formed, drainage laid, scoria and soil spread and leveled ready for sowing and by June 1970 “A” green was sown.

25. In July 1970 a tender of $5,900 from Alan Marr, a local builder, was successful for stage 1 of the clubhouse. This consisted of the concrete slab, the kitchen, the ladies’ room, and both toilets.

26. “B” green was prepared similarly to “A” green as it was sown in November 1970.

27. The first meeting our new clubhouse was on 13th November, 1970. Prior to this, meetings were held in many different places, ELSC, Chelsea AAC, Bert Thomas Boot Shop and members’ homes.

The thrill of at last having our own home was very evident in Harry Pierce’s minutes where he mentioned about the balmy night and the moonlight shining on the swamp waters.

28. For several months now, working bees have been in full swing every Sunday morning. The contractors’ work finished at the edge of the bank so the filling and leveling of the banks etc. was done by the members. This involved shifting soil and leveling to the plinth. Many hours of heavy work was involved, all carried out by voluntary labour.

The ladies of course had not been idle in these early days as apart from their fundraising activities etc., they joined in helping clear unwanted weeds etc. from the green.

No doubt some will recall the comical scene of a row of members (M and F) on hands and knees doing an emu parade across the green picking up unwanted pebbles, sticks etc. Obviously the contractors had used pretty ordinary top soil.

29. So eventually after lots of hard work, bowling was able to commence, and the 28th of Feb. 1971 the greens were officially declared open by the Mayor of the City of Chelsea Cr. Tom Johnston.

Of course in these early bowling days only stage 1 of the clubhouse was competed. Afternoon tea was served in the open on the bare concrete slab. Trestles had to serve as tables and seating was virtually whatever was available.

Whenever we had rain in the mornings puddles would form on the slab and blanks had to be laid in some spots to get to dry areas. Our indoor bowlers of today can well vouch for the uneven surface of the floor. Meg Colville reminded me the other week about how the lady members were each asked to donate a teaspoon and a tea towel for what was a humble start to our kitchen.

30. In Sept. 1971 Stage 2 of the clubhouse was commenced at a cost of $10,200. This was the main hall are, match committee office and is now the bar areas.

Again it was through the generosity of the members who tool out building debentures to finance this project.

31. ON 26th January 1972, Cr. Neil Stacy, Mayor of City of Chelsea, officially opened our new clubhouse. The plaque at the entry of the clubhouse aptly says it all:

“The building of this clubhouse was made possible by the combined efforts of the clubhouse”/

32. Of course our humble clubhouse didn’t boast the luxuries and comforts of today:

(A) Bare concrete floors – no tiles or carpet

(B) No acoustic ceiling

(C) No ceiling fans.

It was quite basic really but nevertheless a great credit to EBC members.

33. About the time the first “8” in pennant was scored by Norm Garmston, Bern Shirley, Audrey Hull and Peter Dooley. Norm repeated that 20 years later and he’s here with us tonight.

34. Everything was now progressing satisfactorily and in Sept. 1975 the site for the third green was leveled. The green was constructed sown by our members.

35. 4th Feb, 1979 saw RVBA Cr. Bruce Andrew officially open “the Ken Lee Green” – the naming being in recognition for the effort and leadership by Ken in establishing the green. This was initially a tift dwarf green, planted with a view to playing winter bowls. It was successful for a few years but then it was decided that it didn’t warrant all the maintenance problems, so the top was removed and re-sown with bent grass.

36. A further extension to the clubhouse in 1981 at a cost of $21,000 provided the secretary’s office, what is commonly called the TV room and the men’s room?? and shower. Again it was the generosity of the members in supporting a second cooperative that enabled finance to be obtained for this work.

37. Both “A” and “B” greens have had major renovations in recent years, “A” green costing $13,2999 in April 1990 and “B” green costing $29,000 in 1992. The cost of both these major renovations would have been much greater had it not been for the efforts of a few of our members who did a lot of extra work themselves.

38. Prior to April 1991 all preparation and maintenance of the greens was done by the members. It was then decided to engage a contract green keeper to do this work. After an indifferent 12 months this club was then fortunate to obtain the services of our current green keeper, Guy Hura, who must be complimented on the condition he maintains our greens.

39. Briefly the club achievements over the first 25 years, the ladies have been very successful, having won their various pennant sections on 22 occasions an done on 4 of those went on to win the flag. They have also won the Helen Bridgeford Shield, the carry-on pairs and were runner-up in the VLBA pairs.

Unfortunately the men have not quite been able to match this great effort. After an early success in the Legacy Pairs in 1977, they have 8 Pennant Section Flags but as yet the big flag has eluded them. Our indoor bowlers have been playing pennant for a short while but have already won 4 section flags, one pennant and the champion of champions last year.

40. I hope this has given you all some idea of the development of the EBC over our first 25 years. In conclusion I will say this – the current members of the EBC enjoy a club of a high standard achieved through the dedication, the hard work, the foresight and the generosity of the members before them. What has been achieved at Edithvale is by the voluntary efforts and assistance of members in making the club what it is today. May the club carry on to a successful future!!!!

Allan Sutherland