Club History

In The Beginning...

 

As the new year of 1935 dawned Baulkham Hills consisted of a few shops, open paddocks, some unsealed dirt roads, an area which was the site of a steam railway platform and railway switching yards, some orchards and small farms, but no bowling green. The good citizens of Baulkham Hills who wished to play bowls had to make their way down the road to Parramatta. Then early in 1935 a couple of these bowlers where chatting and an idea formed.

Bill Spriggs who had moved to the Baulkham Hills area from Drummoyne, where he was a member of the Drummoyne Bowling Club and a keen bowler was yarning to a neighbour, Jack Wheeler, and like all bowlers having a chat, the great game came up in conversation. From that casual chat between neighbours in the early months of 1935 it was suggested that no doubt other bowlers could be found who would be interested in getting together with the common purpose of forming a bowling club in Baulkham Hills. After all, the area was growing and there just had to be bowlers that would like to play the great game in their own neighbourhood.

Bill Spriggs and Jack Wheeler made some enquiries amongst their friends and they held a meeting in Joe Wood's store which used to stand at the corner of Old Northern Road and Windsor Road, Baulkham Hills. Today this site is occupied by the group of shops called the Gateway, with the hairdressers, takeaway and newsagents at Old Northern Road level and the craft store fronting the Windsor Road.

Records show that Joe Woods store was demolished in 1956 and the site was then an Ampol Service Station for some time.

Foundation Members of the Hills District Bowling Club

V.T. Ackling F.J. Allsop J.C. Berghofer J.N. Brickcliff
W.J. Bricknell R.T. Brown R. Butters N. Byrne
H.K. Calvert W.J. Cochrane C.B. Cook W. Connell
J. Cornwell E.G. Crane Snr E.G. Crane Jnr R.S. Crawford
R.S. Cropley J. Folini I. Fomiatti F.M. Fox
H. Gale J. Gill G.M. Gittoes A.C. Hain
C. Innes T.E. Jones H. Keightly W.H. Mcgee
E.V. Mchugh A.G. Mcintosh J.Mclachlan J. Makeig
E.G. Maundrell G.H. Mobb W.C. Munro S. Paterson
K.W, Ritchie W. Ritchie J.A. Rose O.M, Smith
W.J. Spriggs J.T. Stokes R. Telfer R.J. Wagener
J. Waldie J. Wheeler J.H. Wood S. Williams
J. Wren      

 

Our Founders

 

That inaugural meeting was held in Joe Woods store on the 16th July 1935. Those attending were Councillor Jack Cornwell, who was voted as Chairman for the meeting, and Dick Butters, Fred Fox, Bill McGee, Jim McLachlan, Eddie Maundrell, Alec Rose, Bill Spriggs, Joe Wood and Jack Wheeler. These ten good men decided at the first meeting to form The Hills District Bowling Club. They elected from their number the following office bearers:

President - J.A. Cornwell,  Vice-President - F.M. Fox,  Hon. Secretary - W. J. Spriggs,  Hon. Treasurer - R. T. Butters.

The initial meeting decided to recruit as many interested gentlemen as possible who would take part in working to make the idea of The Hills District Bowling Club a reality, and in the next few months a total of 49 gentlemen met again and all were credited as the Foundation Members of The Hills District Bowling Club. Each made the substantial contribution of 21 shillings, or one guinea, and this at a time when the Great Depression was coming to a close and money was scarce.

The names of those 49 gentlemen are today commemorated on a "Founders Board" in the foyer of our Club, so that all who enter the Club may glance up and remember who it was that gave substance to the idea that this was the best site for a bowling club in the District.

 

Where to Play?

 

Today there is a sign just inside the front fence of our Club which that states that this site was, for many years, the location of a steam tram and later a steam train, with the Baulkham Hills Station at the site. The last service being in 1932. Photographs taken at the time show the old platform and steam vehicles using the site and travelling along Old Northern Road. In one photograph the sandstone cottage can be seen that today stands alongside No.2 green, and has in recent years been the base for a used car business.

After the steam train service concluded in 1932 the land fell into disuse and was administered by the Baulkham Hills Shire Council. Some clearing of the old railway lines and equipment had been carried out between 1932 and 1935 but the land was only roughly cleared in those years. Shortly after The Hills District Bowling Club was formed it was resolved to approach the Council with a view to acquiring this land as a site for a bowling green and clubhouse. The Council, being assured that some 49 citizens had constituted themselves into a Club with a common purpose and had each committed their own funds, agreed to lease portion of the land to the Club. In 1994 the Club completed the purchase of the railway land and it is now owned outright by the Club. Today, another portion of the railway land is occupied by the park and Baby Health Centre adjoining our Club.

Once the Council formalities were complete the founders set to and built the original clubhouse, which consisted of a single room, with a veranda to view the green. A little later a smaller room was added and used as living quarters for a gentleman known as "Pop Walters", who in the very early stages of the Club was steward, caretaker and part time greenkeeper. The first green was commenced in January 1936 where our all-weather green is located today.

Construction was undertaken by the foundation members themselves, in their spare time and after they had completed their normal weekly occupations. One of the early photographs shows the land being prepared for the green and a line of powdered lime can be seen as the boundary of the future green.

The new clubhouse and third green was officially opened by President Tom Shakespeare of the R.N.S.W.B.A. on the 10th May 1958. Pictured are the assembled bowlers proudly standing in front of their new Clubhouse on opening day.

Eventually the first green was completed and on the 19th December 1936 the President of the Baulkham Hills Shire Council, Councillor Arthur Whitling declared the green open and delivered the first bowl. Bowls had commenced at The Hills District Bowling Club.

Next year, the first team officially representing The Hills and playing an away match was at Windsor on Saturday, 17th April, 1937.

Those early days were not just bowls, there was much hard work undertaken improving the Clubhouse, clearing the land and at the time when money was scarce and actions and deeds were important. The Hills was progressing very slowly in those early days, the Depression years were becoming a bad memory but then came the war years, of 1939 to 1945, and improvements to the Club could only be talked about.'

The first draught beer was a five-gallon keg trundled across the road from the Bull and Bush Hotel, and placed in the cool room of Ted Horwood's Butcher Shop and then, when suitably chilled, proudly placed on the bar in the clubhouse.

Despite the war years, the second green was constructed in 1942 and later in 1948 the first clubhouse was enlarged and expanded and opened by President R. S. Cropley on the 25th February 1948.

 

Expansion

 

That early spirit of confidence in the future which was demonstrated by our founders has been repeated as our members have evinced foresight and initiative to plan for the future, had this not been the case we would not be in the most satisfactory position that we enjoy today. This type of vision was manifested when the members voted, in 1955 to purchase land fronting Jenner Street. Until that time the only land available to the Club was the original leasehold of old railway land fronting Old Northern Road.

The purchase of the Jenner Street land provided valuable alternate access, although Jenner Street was only a gravel surface. Member Ted Maher can recall the difficulty encountered by vehicles negotiating the steep grade of Jenner Street, after heavy rain. Some spectacular movements were seen!

In the post-war years there was a significant increase in membership as the Baulkham Hills area developed, it was obvious that an increase in the current clubhouse facilities would be needed in the near future, as well as a third green. The third green was constructed on the newly purchased land and new or expanded premises were then considered.

In 1957 it was decided to erect a new clubhouse. That was the easy decision, but records show that where the new clubhouse should be erected and what design should be used generated considerable discussion. After eight (!) sets of plans had been prepared, and one after another had been discarded, a location and design was accepted, and the old clubhouse was demolished.

The new clubhouse and third green was officially opened by President Tom Shakespeare of the R.N.S.W.B.A. on the 10th May 1958. Pictured are the assembled bowlers proudly standing in front of their new Clubhouse on opening day.

The Clubhouse that was new in 1958 has been added to, expanded and refurbished but the basis of the Club facilities that we enjoy today was built in 1958 and has been in daily use since that day.

In 1967 alterations were made to the clubhouse as pictured on the opening day. The main hall and bar were enlarged and the open verandas on the northern and western sides were glassed in, to provide an additional 2,000 square feet of space. Further extensions and improvements were added in 1974, 1979, 1984 and 1991, the much needed additional members lounge space and the existing front facade, facing Old Northern Road being provided in the 1984 project.

 

The First Pennant Flag

 

Today, our members are familiar with the many Pennant flags that fly on special days. However, the first of these trophies to be won by The Hills was in 1942, only 5 years after the Club played it's first away game at Windsor. In that short time, our members had established themselves in the bowling arena as competitive bowlers. Readers today might be interested in the footwear of that era, all brown, and most of the socks were dark in colour. Perhaps real men didn't wear white socks in those days!

The first Pennant flag was followed by other successes, in 1946-47 The Hills were runners up in the grade 3's and in 1963 won the No.2 Metropolitan Pennant. It is a matter of record that The Hills has continued in this vein, and it is worthy of observation that our first Pennant flag was the No.4's, and in the last two years we have won Zone Pennants in the 3's and the 5's, perhaps our bowling strength was always meant to be in the middle order!

 

Social Members

 

From 1935 when bowlers formed the Club and for over thirty years thereafter, only members were admitted who were prepared to play bowls on a regular basis. Early minute books record committee discussion that a certain member had not been playing "the required number of games and that he should be interviewed".

However in 1967, what must have been a landmark decision was made, a rule of the Club was altered to allow admission of a limited number of social members. The minute's record that this decision was only reached after what must have been heated discussion and some committee members stating that they would resign if this new rule were approved. In the first twelve months, after the decision in 1967, over 40 social members were admitted, thus making The Hills not only a desirable bowling venue, but also a social meeting place.

 

Memories

 

One of our Foundation Members, the late Ed Maundrell, wrote a short piece entitled "Some Memories of the Old Hills Bowling Club Clubhouse" a portion of that article is reproduced.

Someone said, "The old must give way to the new." I reluctantly concurred as I watched the demolition of the old Hills clubhouse, or more correctly, clubhouses, for the small rear portion was, in 1936, and for some years afterwards, a clubhouse in its own right. It was here the administrators arranged activities and determined destiny, selectors sat in secret conclave, the rank and file took their ease on backless benches, reminiscent of early school days, while sampling their Briton's brew.

Room was found somewhere to house our mower, bowls, jacks, mats and other necessary equipment, to say nothing of affording living accommodation for our hearty septuagenarian greenkeeper-caretaker-steward, "Pop" Walters.

As I looked at the gaunt, bared frame of the old clubhouse, memory leapt back to the time when I watched with interest that same frame taking shape. The passage of the years between erection and demolition has taken its toll, not only on the structure, but of many dear old club mates who have passed on and left fragrant memories. What a privilege it was to enjoy the friendship of such men. It is good to recall old places and old buildings, but better far is the-memory of old friends, who having served their day and generation, have passed on, leaving happy memories as their monument."

These pages are a summary of information and photographs that have generously been made available by members Jack Clarke, Ted Maher, Eric Felton, Bob Ackling, Norm Kentwell and Harry Carr of the Hills Historical Society.

George Greaves.

Home Page

Bowling Club site, preparing the ground 1936

Home Page

First Clubhouse Dec.1936 Presidents Limo in Back

Home Page

Playing on Boxing Day 1936

 Home Page

Club's Opening Day 19th Dec 1936

Home Page

First Club House 1936

Home Page

Foundation Members enjoying their bowls

Home Page

Trams Crossing at Model Farm Interchange

Home Page

Baulkham Hills Station - Horwood Cottage seen at rear

Home Page

Tram Terminus at Castle Hill

Home Page

Our First Flag - 1942/43 - No. 4 Metropolitan Pennant 

Home Page

Aerial Photo showing Old Clubhouse in 1957

 Home Page

 Official Opening Bowlers in front of Clubhouse 1958

Home Page

Clubhouse 1967