The value to the community of a well-conducted bowls club with proud traditions and high standards is incalculable. In its over 100 years of serving the community, the Sandringham Bowls Club has provided healthy recreation, social involvement, companionship and competition to many citizens.
The initial attempt to form a club was in 1905 but it was not successful. The project was resurrected in 1909 and an agreement was reached to form the Sandringham Bowling Club (now Sandringham Bowls Club). The first green was laid on a site belonging to the Mechanics' Institute in Abbott Street, and was opened on 5 March 1910. Membership increased rapidly and outgrew this green. A larger area was made available in the beach reserve opposite Abbott Street overlooking Port Phillip Bay. A green of eight rinks was put down and in 1921 this was open for use by the club's eighty members. Later, and in two stages, this was increased to eleven rinks. Ladies were admitted to the club in 1955 as Associates.
Environmental pressures, increasing Beach Road traffic, and difficulty in parking, made another move imperative, and in January 1975 the club transferred to the present parkland site in Tulip Street, leased from the City of Sandringham (now Bayside City Council). With protracted Herculean effort, using mainly voluntary labour of members, the clubhouse was transferred to Tulip Street and extended to its present size. The two new greens were laid by the council, subject to repayment of cost by the club over thirty years.
Since the move to Tulip Street, progress has continued. The club has maintained and improved the clubhouse and surrounds. As in the past, these were carried out by our members. One of our greens was replaced with a top grade synthetic surface, allowing play all year round. Floodlights were also constructed to allow play at night by both members and Barefoot Bowlers.
Additional information can be found in Shirley Joy's References Relating to Sandringham Bowling Club, Sandringham Croquet Club and the Mechanics’ Institute, Abbott Street, Sandringham: localhistory.kingston.vic.gov.au/htm/article/350.htm
Research on Book "Sandringham Bowls Club 1909-2009" - Liz Choat
I was fortunate to have access to minutes of meetings for most of the Club's existence. These provided a good insight into the history and were the starting point for my research. Although they were a wonderful resource, reading the minutes also left me with a number of queries which required further research.
I spent a lot of time at the State Library, particularly looking through old newspapers. Prior to World War II these were a rich resource of information, reporting in detail Club activities. At times reporters seem to have actually attended AGMs and reported first hand. I also used the Bayside Library Service (Sandringham and Brighton), online resources, State legislation and Hansard reports of parliamentary debates, received assistance from the Sandringham & District Historical Society and, very helpfully, a number of Club members talked to me about their recollections, mainly covering the last 30 years.
One big challenge I had was sourcing images to use in the book, particularly of the early years. The Club only had a couple of pre-1950s images still in its possestion and these were of very poor quality. I had them digitally restored so they could be published. Many of the later photos also had to be digitally enhanced to bring them to a sufficient publication quality. I sourced other images with the assistance of the Leader Collection (City of Kingston), Pauline Reynolds, and the historical society.
This book is available from the Club Secretary for $20 and is the finest history of our Club.
Early on I realised that I couldn't properly write about the Club without looking at the context in which it was set up and developed over the century - both at a social and a local political level. The Club has changed as society and legislation have altered.
The most obvious example of those changes is the admission of ladies. Despite reports as early as the 1920s that ladies were lobbying for admission, this did not occur until 1955 (admitted as associates, as much as anything as a means of boosting Club income). They were admitted as full members only in 1985 after the Equal Opportunity Act 1984 was passed in the State of Victoria.
On the other hand, I also found it fascinating that some things haven't changed. Throughout the whole period it is apparent that members have always been willing to volunteer to do jobs around the Club and that they have taken a real pride in it. There is no more obvious example of this than when the Club hall was moved to the present location (see further comments below). Other themes reoccur too - water shortages are not just a recent problem. Discussions took place as early as 1939 about the potential for restrictions and the impact that this would have on the Club. Similar issues have arisen each decade since the 1960s, with tanks being installed back in 1968 and attempts made to bore for water on a few occasions.
One recurring point of contention I noted was the process for choosing selectors. This seemed to arise most AGMs until the 1960s (when the rules were changed to provide for a Selection Committee). At times motions were moved, amendments to those motions moved and even amendments to amendments were attempted. The process may now have settled down but, human nature being what it is, different opinions will always arise.
Brief comments on history:
Three locations: Abbott Street: 1909-21, Beach Reserve: 1922-75 & Tulip Street: 1975-now
The most turbulent period in the Club's history was 1968-75. Having spent a lot of money in upgrading facilities in the 1950s, the Club was planning further improvements. In seeking permission for those improvements in 1968, the Club was advised by the Port Phillip Authority that its occupancy of Beach Reserve was only on a yearly basis, no further improvements were recommended and the Club should look for an alternative site. The Authority's advice stemmed from the passing of legislation which changed the focus of foreshore land to being for the benefit of aquatic sports.
This was an obvious shock for Club members and had the effect of placing the Club in limbo for a number of years. The impact was obvious - some members left and recruitment became a problem, the uncertainty putting people off. The Club's financial position consequentially weakened. Extensive discussions took place with the Council. Initially, it appeared the relocation to Royal Avenue would occur but that fell through. Even after the present site was identified, that was not the end to the problems as finance was a critical issue. Repeated attempts to sell the Beach Reserve buildings fell through and at one point the survival of the Club was in grave doubt. I have learnt a tremendous respect for the members at the time as they didn't give up and eventually decided to physically move the hall section from Beach Reserve to Tulip Street, to form the main part of the new building. We have photos of the building being transported through local streets to its new location. This was done by Club members through building and architectural expertise existing within the Club.
Finally, the most prominent member has been Fred Tricks. He joined the Club in 1939, having been appointed as Town Clerk in Sandringham, a position he held until retirement in 1966. Within the bowling world he rose to be President of the Australian Bowls Council in 1976-77. In 1979, at the age of 84 years, he was awarded the MBE for his services to lawn bowls.