Lorn Park Bowling Club
The following history of the Lorn Park Bowling Club has been compiled by Shirley Threlfo from information obtained from old Minute Books of the Club, Ted Cahill, Peter Taylor, Ken Barnes, Ken Clements and members of the Club.
Lorn Park Bowling Club a brief history…
Lorn Park Bowling Club was formed when a group of Lorn residents responded to an advertisement in the Maitland Mercury and met at the residence of Mr W A Howarth in Roxburgh Street Lorn on 11th October 1932. The idea for a bowling club came from a meeting of the Lorn branch of the Agricultural Bureau.
Thirteen men attended the meeting with apologies from two others. They were all well-known residents and most were Maitland businessmen. The meeting carried Councillor Dutton’s motion to form a bowling club and it was decided to call it Lorn Park Bowling Club. Provisional members were elected including Mr. Thomas Silk who had been a foundation member and honorary secretary of the Maitland Park Bowling Club which had been started some thirty years previously.
Initial membership fee was 10/- but at the first annual general meeting fees were set at £3.3.0 full members and £1.1.0 associate members.
A site was set apart in Lorn Park for a bowling club and work commenced immediately, although delays occurred before it was finished. Mr. Silk who was an architect was to prepare sketch plans for a pavilion to be submitted to the Bolwarra Shire Council.
The first Annual General Meeting was held on the 10th July 1933 at the Council Chambers cnr Belmore Road and The Avenue Lorn and a progress report was given. In the 9 months since the initial meeting considerable work had been done to prepare the green. The area had been fenced in, water laid on and the timber ditching around the green completed. I Vercoe, who had not been at the inaugural meeting but who, early in 1933 offered to help with forming the green, was asked to take charge. The report advised that the green was formed and ‘resting for grass to grow’.
Rules were adopted at this meeting and office bearers and committee elected retaining the inaugural patron, president, secretary and treasurer. Also at this meeting, I Vercoe was appointed the first life member for his services to the Club.
The colours chosen were green and gold but in February 1934 were changed to black and gold and these have remained the club colours to the present day.
The green was in use early in 1934 and was used for night bowls in February 1934 and a charge of 6d. per player was made. The clubhouse (pavilion) was completed a short time later. Until then the committee meetings were held in the workshop of Mr W A Howarth. A grant of £100.0 was received from the Bolwarra Shire Council.
It was not long before the push was on for another green and No. 2 green was formed in 1937 and the third green was available when the tennis courts on the existing site were closed and the ground acquired.
Over the years the club outgrew the original clubhouse and in September 1940 there was an official opening of additions but this building too became inadequate and the club decided to rebuild. Mr Don Isaac, President of the Royal NSW Bowling Association, opened the present clubhouse on the same site on 12th September 1976.
Further alterations have been made over the last 20 years mostly to the interior of the club.
Changes were also made to the structure of the club itself over the years. Poker machines were introduced in 1950 and a liquor licence obtained in 1952.
In 1963 a decision was made to allow a ladies bowling club to be formed and although there were many against this, any initial reluctance to accept women bowlers has long gone. Nowadays all tournaments and social bowls are open. In 1986 the Club constitution was altered and women bowlers were allowed to stand for the board of directors. Thelma Meehan and Daphne Donnellan were the first female directors elected. In 1987 Shirley Threlfo was elected and was treasurer for 6 years. In recognition of their commitment and service, Daphne and Shirley were granted life membership, the first females to be given that honour.
However, during all the changes made to the club, greens and clubhouse, the main aim of the Lorn Park Bowling Club has been the playing and promotion of bowls.
Over the years members have achieved distinction in the sport of bowls. They can be found in the Honour Board section of this website. However, of particular note is Ellis Crew who was an Australian champion. Also of note was the winning of the Number 1 Pennant at least 13 times since 1932 and between 1961 and 1967 it won it 6 years running. In 1941-42 the Club won the Numbers 1, 2 and 3 Pennants and in 1961 was runner-up at the State Play-Offs.
In more recent times Lorn Park has continued to compete well at District Level with Pennant wins in Nos 4 and 7 grade in 2007 and No 4 in 2012. The women’s club has also tasted success in Grades 4 and 3, the Grade 3 team making it to the State Play-Offs in 2010.
Other notable club achievements were to bowlers winning the singles, pairs, triples and fours championships in the one year. The late Jack Spohr was the first in 1965, Keith McLeod in 1979 and the late Eric Clements in 1990. Another achievement at club level was in 2000 when Don Threlfo was club champion, his wife Shirley the women’s club champion and they combined that year to also win the mixed pairs championship. Another bowling winner is Ken Barnes who has won the Consistency Singles so many times that he is known as ‘Mr Consistency’.
The club has been affiliated with the Hunter District Bowling Association since 1934 and members continue to contribute to the running of the District.
Social bowls can be said to be the backbone of the bowling club and many of our bowlers have enjoyed the open competition both in the daytime and in the evening during summer.
The club’s greens are named after three of those men who made Lorn Park their home club and added so much to it. Ray Vercoe, Ken Taylor and Jack Burgess. The pathway from the front gate is named for S Gordon Clift.
The following quotation is taken from the President’s Report for the year ending 30th June 1966 written by W J L Wright and still relevant today.
‘I feel quite sure that members must realise that the bigger and more prosperous clubs who can afford to reduce or minimise subscription fees, cater for free entertainment to members, defray travelling costs and supply free trophies for competition mitigates against clubs such as ours from active competition and consequently must tell upon annual revenue’.
What is important to our club is the success of the bowlers and in this regard Lorn Park members can, and do, have pride in their bowlers in how they play the game in the true spirit of sportsmanship.
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