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Bowls In Focus : January 2010
Princes Park Celebrates 120 Years It was a glittering occasion when Princes Park Bowling Club recently celebrated its 120th birthday, with its very interesting history being unveiled to guests including some 'very' past members. Princes Park was named after Queen Victoria's second son, Prince Alfred, who visited Melbourne in 1868. The area was named Princes Hill and the Crown Grant of 13 June 1873 speci- fied that Princes Park should be 'used for the recreation and amusement of our subjects and people'. According to history, the original objectives of the club were the making and maintaining of a bowling green, lawn tennis court, quoits and croquet grounds; and the management and encouragement of the said games at the grounds of the club, Princes Park. History recalls that quoits did not get off the ground, croquet was for the ladies, and lawn bowls for the men. The area of today's two grass greens was originally a 10-rink bowling green, croquet green and tennis courts. The club's first win in a pennant match was reported in the Carlton gazette of November 27 1890, while it had to wait until 1975-76 to claim its first division pennant. Over the years it has boasted many excellent bowlers and teams with national, state and divisional titles. In 1952 the club decided to allow women to become members and to play bowls competitively. However, in an agreement drawn up at the time it was stated that the ladies 'shall be subservi- ent in all matters' to the male members and were 'not eligible to play on Satur- days, Sundays and Public Holidays'. Needless to say, the ladies of the club did not remain subservient for long. By 1979 they outnumbered the men (source: 'Carlton: A History' by Peter Yule). The club reached a peak of 140 male members in the early 60's when its top team competed in A1 Pennant. During this time it had three interstate players amongst its numbers. At last year's celebration, all surviving men's and ladies life members, past presidents, former singles champions; current members and a number of spe- cial guests were invited to the launch of the anniversary year. A celebration to recognise the past and look forward to the future of the club The evening commenced with RVBA executive officer Peter Hanlon present- ing Life Member badges to Clem Taylor and Herbert Elythamby. Long serving members Betty Taylor (six times ladies singles champion) and Laurie Jones (four times club singles champion) launched the 'Success Wall', which proudly displays all club shields and pennant flags. All past presidents and club singles champions were then recognised individually and as a group, with each receiving a copy of the recently pre- pared history of the club. It was then that an amazing cameo transpired, when the club's founding president Dr Louis Henry appeared from past, still dressed in Gentlemen's outfit from the 1890's. Dr Henry (aka Sean Doyle) provided a brief history of the formation of the club and some associated events. City of Melbourne councillor Brian Shanahan imparted some encouraging words in support of the club and lawn bowls, noting that Princes Park is now one of three bowling clubs within the City of Melbourne. The others being City of Melbourne in Flagstaff Gardens and Flemington Kensington. A special surprise guest on the evening was Melva James, daughter of George Leslie Jacobs. GL Jacobs was an outstanding bowler between 1920 and 1940 winning numerous national, state and club titles. Something akin to finding a needle in a haystack, Melva recognised herself as a child in a 1936 club photograph hanging on the wall. What a wonderful surprise for Melva and the club. New life members Clem and Herbert ceremoniously cut a superb birthday cake, while a delicious barbeque, washed down by ample 'refreshments', capped off the celebration. - Marnie Gregory • Left: Back on the green after 120 years was Princes Park founding presi- dent Dr Louis Henry (aka Sean Doyle). • Above: Long standing members and club champions Laurie Jones and Betty Taylor launch the 'Success Wall'. • Below: First roll 21 September 1889 at Princes Park Bowling Club.