The History of
Armadale District Bowling Club

The Barber's shop is one thing, a bowling club something else; yet it seems Armadale District Bowling Club had its beginnings as a result of a conversation between the late Hugh Aitken and then then resident tonsorial artist Harold Hillbrick.

Hugh evidently found his conversation with Harold so stimulating, that he was soon talking to others and as a result a meeting was convened at Buffs Hall in September 1951.

Messers Aitken, M. Pascoe, V. Thomas, W. Green, G. Deveraux and D. Rydings attended. Mr Aitken became President and Malcom Pascoe Secretary. This what was at first to be named The Armadale Bowling Club.

The next step was to obtain a playing area. The Road Board, as it was then known, agreed to rent an area adjacent to the Council Library, which had previously been in use as a croquet green. The area, 80 feet by 50 feet, did not meet all the needs for a bowling green, but it was a start, and after some maintenance to the surface in late 1951, bowls were played for the first time in Armadale - January 1952.

The enthusiasm initially shown was to wane. It seemed almost as though the venture might fall through but no one had reckoned with the enthusiasm of a Mr W. Martin. It was through his agency that in November 1954 a special meeting was called to properly constitute the club. Those present were W. Martin (Snr & Jnr), J. Murray, I. Michael, M. Pascoe, G. Deveraux, R. Johnson and W. Green. From that meeting onwards the club was on its way and moves were to begin almost immediately to achive ebtry in the Pennants Competition and to establish the club at a more suitable premises.

The Ladies, by 1954, had sufficiently swelled their numbers to consider forming a club in their own right. In this regard they, as is so often the case, out-smarted the men. In April of that year Mesdames Aikten, Davies, Deveraux, Green, Louden, Martin, Pascoe, Marsh, Sheedy and Shields met and elected Mrs Martin as President, Mrs Green as Treasurer and Mrs Marsh as Secretary.

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In July of the same year they sought and obtained affiliation with the Ladies Bowling Association. Mrs Deveraux was to be the first delegate, a position she retained for some three years.

An interesting minute tells of Mrs Deveraux being paid one pound sterling for four months travelling expenses. Having accepted the pound sterling, Mrs Deveraux then donated that amount to the club funds.

And then there was the treasurers report of the ladies in October 1955 which tells us the bank account stood at five pounds and threepence, the men's account was sixty nine pounds, fourteen shillings and seven pence.

Membership fee's were as such: Men - two guineas, Ladies - one guinea.

Throughout 1954/1955 much attention was given to alternative sites. In November 1954, Spencer Gwynne reported to a Management Committee meeting that the Road Board was considering establishing a recreation ground which would include a site for two bowling greens, at an estimated cost of one thousand and twenty seven pounds.  It was indicated that the club would be able to raise loans through the Road Board and stressed the need for action because the Loan Council meeting was due in May 1955. Any loan obtained would attract a 5% fixed rate of interest.

C. Marsh and I. Michael were called on to discuss the bowling club's needs with the Road Board. Their report was not favourable, but Jack Murray, the club patron and Road Board member, undertook to raise the matter at a future board meeting. He cautioned, without squandering the ratepayers money.

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Though much of the effort was being directed toward plans for another club house, the existing facility at the croquet green had to be maintained. A small shed (10 X 8) was erected and it was here the ladies prepared the teas. There was also Pennants to consider, and though the men were affiliated with the R.W.A.B.A. in 1955, it was not until 1957 that they entered the competition. The ladies also affiliated in that year and became competitive in the following year, 1956.

Given other circumstances the bowling club might well have been located on Minawarra, the property now occupied by Council Chambers. An interested group wanted to establish a sporting complex on the site and wanted the bowling club to take up a section, however the Gwynne Park site was on the move and the bowlers turned down the offer.

Plans for a new club rooms were prepared by E.J. Burrows. A two thousand pound loan was negotiated through the board and work commenced on the building in early 1956. On 11th November 1956 the Road Board Chairman, Mr W.G. Savage, laid the foundation stone, although by that time the construction was well under way; so much so that in fact that only a few days later, on November 14, a general meeting was held in the building.

It is of interest that our building has real historical links. A large quantity of the bricks were from the old Brickwork's smokestack which was located on the present Dale Cottages site. In addition, 31, 000 bricks were donated by various business houses in the district.

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Though the new premises were occupied in 1956, it was to be two years later before they were officially opened. Mr R.J. Loudon, the club patron, performed the ceremony. It is sad to note that Mr W.J. Martin, who had been the driving force behind the project, died shortly before the opening day.

Since that time there has been a long list of contributors. there have been some individual efforts of note such as Jack Murray almost single handedly digging the well which is still in use today. The Honour Board donated by Reg and Grace Williams detailing the Office Bearers, but we cannot  also forget the many who have provided the valuable support to the club.

Names we can remember are as such - Aitken, Louden, Martin, Gwynne, Young (first green keeper), Murray, Green, Deveraux, Michael, Lorenz, Rae, Saw, Marsh, Williams and Hillbrick - these are all with clear links with our beginnings. It was a husband and wife effort which has given Armadale an asset in real terms and a club, which today, can boast facilities the equal of any in the metropolitan area.

Newspaper Articles and Historical Photo's

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"These days when we want light on the green we simply throw a switch. In the croquet greens days, night bowls meant climbing the lamp standards of the adjacent tennis court and swivelling the fittings to throw light on the two rinks closest to the fence."

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