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Blenheim Bowling Club

65E Weld Street
Blenheim

Phone: 021 250 4981
email: info@BlenheimBowls.org.nz

The Blenheim Bowling Club beginnings

Note: we should use the other historic images as well, otherwise it looks a little dull?

"History is but a confused heap of facts."

Excerpt from the introduction to the 100th year celebrations May 1992:

Club house in 1939

CLUB CELEBRATES ACHIEVEMENTS

As it celebrates its 100th year the Blenheim Bowling Club proudly boasts one of the best single storied pavilions in the country.

Today’s complex off Weld St – complete with spacious off-road parking - is a distinct contrast to the first site occupied by the club when it was formed back in 1892. To begin with the men who pioneered the game of lawn bowls in Marlborough did so in less than ideal conditions.

The club started with a small half – prepared green on ground borrowed from the already established sport of tennis, sharing facilities with the Wairau Tennis Club. But after a year, they managed to secure the lease of some ground on the corner of Scott and Kinross Streets.  The lease was for 14 years at ₤12 per annum.  Three rinks were put down and the new green officially opened November 29, 1893. The development work was financed by debentures from club members.  By 1898 the need for an increased playing area had become urgent and further debentures were issued to enable three more rinks to be put down. However, by the time these three were ready the original three had to be closed.  Frequent floods had harmed the grass beyond repair.

The 1894-95 season had been completely lost due to flooding on the rinks. Despite these setbacks and at times declining member-ship, the club pressed ahead with plans to find a piece of freehold land they could call there own.  By 1900 they had purchased of Mrs. Nosworthy an acre of ground, formally rented by the Wairau Lawn Tennis Club on the corner of Scott and Stephenson streets. The club trustees Messrs R. McCallum, R.H. Smith, S.J. Furness, W.H. Macey, J. Morris and J. Reid signified their willingness to buy the land on behalf of the club, with a ₤30 deposit and the balance of ₤150 to be raised no mortgage.  A further sum of ₤200 was raised by debentures for the laying down of the new green which was officially opened in 1906. The new green was complete with pavilion, bowl house, tool shed, lavatory and landscaped with shrubs and flower boarders.

In the 1920s talk of a new pavilion, or additions to the existing one went on for several years.  In 1920 the minute book declares “it is quite clear that the present clubhouse is lacking in size and convenience and with a little more financial support we hope to have the new building in sight for the next season.” By the end of the 1920s the club had moved the old pavilion to the western end of the grounds and built onto it.  In 1934 it was wired to the electric power. Talk of building a new pavilion arose again in the 1950s.  This building was to be of permanent materials and would have been large enough to hold indoor bowls over the winter.  Also during this period the club was considering moving to another situation.  Members were therefore reluctant to commit themselves to a rebuilding project on the Scott St. site. So it was that in 1960 the old pavilion received a lick of paint and some minor repairs while discussions with Marlborough College continued with regard to them buying the Bowling Club land which was adjacent to their own. In 1961 the club bought Frank Neal’s market garden in upper Scott Street and in 1965 a half acre adjoining it.  Access was from Weld Street. Stage one of the present pavilion was erected in 1972.

The new green was officially opened in 1972 two days before Christmas. Officiating was the then Mayor Sid Harling, MP Ian Brooks and club president Tom Glover. In the flowing years the pavilion was carpeted and furnished helped greatly by Housie nights held at the Grosvenor Hotel. Stalwart Vern Barratt ran these highly successful sessions for many years and by 1977 the club was freehold. Consideration was given at one stage to extending the pavilion to allow for target bowls and indoor / outdoor bowls to be played.

However in May 1988 it was decided that such a plan would not be viable and the club would instead be better putting its energy into the development of a third green.  The recently completed extensions were mooted back in 1989; plans drawn up in 1990 and by September 1990 alterations to the bar were complete, albeit over budget.  Attention then turned to the need to extend the pavilion one bay towards the north.  This would improve facilities for catering and entertainment and provide extra wall space for the honours boards. During 1992 an extension double the planned size was built bringing the facility up to the fine standard enjoyed by members today.