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History of The Rockhampton Bowls Club Inc

In March 1904 Mr Paul Baptise Maries arrived in Rockhampton as manager of shipping ggents Howard Smith and Co. Mr Maries was so disappointed that there was no bowling clubs in Rockhampton, he set himself a task to do something about it. However he was to find it was not going to be an easy task. A couple of years went by and in 1906 Mr Maries became more determined that he must form a bowls club. Due to lack of interest and co-operation from others, Mr Maries was not having any success.

Fortunately for the Rockhampton Bowls Club, Mr Maries was not going to give up. Mr Maries eventually gathered enough business men to meet at the Leichhardt Hotel to talk about forming a bowls club. On this day Friday 29th of July 1910, he was promised support in his endeavour to form the Rockhampton Bowls Club.

Mr Maries wasted no time in approaching the Council for a piece of land on the river bank. His application was not successful but the following year council elections were held and a Mr Harry Mederaf became Mayor. Mr Maries approached the Mayor and this time a lease for twenty one years was granted to build a bowling green. The Mayor ( Mr Harry Mederaf ) fully supported the project and become a foundation member and Vice President.

After much hard work the Rockhampton Bowls Club became a reality and was officially opened on the 14th of September 1912. A very proud day for Mr Paul Baptise Maries whose persistence over eight years to form a bowls club was now achieved.

In 1927 it was realised that the club house was not adequate so it was decided to move the club house further back from the green and place it on high blocks. This was completed and officially opened on the 21st of April 1928.

In 1932 at the AGM of the club a motion was passed to allow ladies to join as Ladies Associate. The following year the ladies formed a Ladies Associate Club. This became a great boost to the finances of the Bowls Club. In 1933 RBC had only 51 members where as the ladies had 59 members.

In 1945 the club house was considered to be in bad shape and needing a lot of repairs. Nine years later the club house needed urgent repairs that were to be costly. The Committee of the day considered the cost of a new club house against the cost of repairs. It was decided to keep repair costs low and save the money for a new club house. In the following year, a new Committee spent a considerable amount of money in repairs for very little permanent improvements to the building.

By 1966 it was realised that the club had no option but to build a new club house. A special building fund was set in place. For the next four years, the building fund grew and in 1970 plans for a new club house was completed. However in 1971 the President of the club persuaded the members of the club not to proceed with building the new club house.

The President realised that more greens would be needed in the future by the club and it may be better to relocate. The president approached the Council for the club to have part of Central Park so that the club could build two greens and a club house. Two years went by and after the Council rejected the proposal, the club decided to proceed with replacing the club house and abandon all ideas of moving to Central Park. In 1976 the old club house was moved to near the lane and work commenced on building the new club house. The new club house was officially opened on 14th of November 1976.

1979 was to see the Rockhampton Bowls Club replace the green that had served the club for 67 years. At this point in time the club was experiencing hard financial times. Something had to be done so club members Jim Adsett and Neil Barry came forward to run a bingo night. The Ladies Committee, led by Mabel Neven also started earning money by catering for weddings etc. Members were invited to invest in a club trust account to combat the 18.5% interest rate of the building loan debt.

In the late 1980s, the club reached another crisis point when the club was short on funds. The Victoria Park Club suggested an amalgamation or take over of the Rockhampton Bowls Club. Like members had done in the past, two members came forward to make up the deficit. These two members were Roy Chancellor and Merve Martin. One could say with some degree of accuracy that these two members saved the Rockhampton Bowls Club from becoming just history.

In 1988 the Club`s Committee raised the matter of whether they should relocate to another site so that the club could have two greens. Representatives approached the Council about this matter and the possibility of relocating to Central Park. However club members were not in favour and no follow action was taken.

Bingo was back in 1989 and the club was well on the road of being financially viable again.

After a trip to Monto, that was disrupted by rain, an idea was born to change the green to a green gauge carpet green under a roof. This may have been considered as radical thinking at the time. However advantages were many:

  • Games could be played all year for a steady income.
  • No expensive green keeper.
  • No fertilize so close to the river.
  • Water savings
  • And most important not playing in the hot sun.

The idea was born, meetings held, plans drawn, funds raised and the project became a reality on January 9th 2000.

The Rockhampton Bowls Club became the first Club in Queensland to change from a green to a synthetic green (needle punch) under a roof. The club members now enjoy playing night or day, all year round. At the present time, the club is financially sound and has 172 members.

In 2014 the club oficially became one club of ladies and men. The unification of the club has been very successful.