Ladies Bowls through the years | PHOTO GALLERY, VIDEO

It was a step back in time as images from Tenterfield Ladies Bowls’ history surrounded players as they marked the group’s diamond anniversary at the Tenterfield Bowling Club on Wednesday, August 16.

Judy Richardson presented this potted history of the group’s beginnings (there’s a video below for those who would prefer to watch the presentation): 

The Tenterfield Bowling Club – Ladies Section would not be the place it is today without the efforts of those who have gone before us and it is thanks to them that we have the facilities, which we all enjoy today.

The bowling green that we have outside was first established by Mr McCotter in 1930 as a private enterprise. After several failed attempts to establish a men’s club it was not until 1932 that a set of rules were drafted, adopted and the first election was held in August that same year.

In 1941, an associate ladies bowling club was established with eight members, with Mrs Phippard being the President. The club however met its demise, possibly due to lack of numbers or lack of green use. The construction of a new green in 1951 contributed towards renewed efforts to establish a ladies club.

On the 5th December 1956, a meeting was called by the RSL Ladies Auxiliary to form a ladies bowling club. Thirty-five women attended the foundation meeting, which was presided over by Mrs Alma Mackey. Alma is the mother of our very own member, Doreen Krahe. The women were however informed that the ground given by the RSLA for establishing a bowling green was not sufficient for the needs of a bowling green. Thus, the suggestion was made that they confer with the Tenterfield Bowling Club to see if they were agreeable for the ladies to join them.  

The inaugural meeting was held on 14th August 1957 (60 years ago, in fact). It was held in the RSL hall and convened by Mrs Margaret Kiely, President of the RSL Ladies Auxiliary and presided by Mrs Nan Bliss, the first Ladies President. The 39 ladies that attended that meeting became the foundation members. The decision to admit the ladies to Tenterfield Bowling Club was well and truly justified as by 1959 they had 58 members. The official opening was 21st October, 1959 with 80 ladies playing coming from 14 clubs.

In foundation member, Viola Armstrong written memories “It was twelve months before we commenced to play, owing to opposition by the Men’s bowling club to having the women play on their greens, then only having two greens there was no space for us”

The ladies annual subscription was one pound and one shilling and their uniform was all white long sleeved frocks, white shoes and stockings, white cardigan and white hat with a band.   No children were allowed inside the bowling club gates.   To use the green a fee of one and sixpence had to be paid.  Mrs Armstrong said, “not one member had played bowls anywhere before, so we all started from scratch”. They enlisted Mr Phillip Sommerlad to coach them.

Although the ladies had their own club, they certainly did not have the same equality within the club as it remained male dominant for many years to come.  The ladies were not allowed to play on the weekend and a form of segregation existed inside the club house as well.

In 1964, lady members were invited to play mixed bowls with members of the men’s club who agreed to a trial for 6 months playing one Sunday per month apart from special days. On the 9th February 1969, the new clubhouse was opened and the ladies catered for 204 people for lunch and 156 for High Tea. In 1970, the committee agreed that the lady members would be able to access the poker machines during club trading hours and the segregation that existed in the bar area was gradually phased out. In 1993, mixed bowls was allowed every Sunday and the ladies were invited to play in all special trophy days such as “two four two” and “five by seven singles”.

In 1986, the late Past President and Life member Rene Boston, and the late Past President Val Lyons were elected to the Board of Directors and served two terms; followed by Elaine Maguire in 1990-91; the Late  Past President Eileen Bailey 1992-1994;  Past President Jean Halliday 1995; the late Past President and Life Member Gwen Rhodes 1994-1996;  Past President Judy Durham 2008-2011 serving 3 terms, Past President  Daphne Kirkman 2012-2014; and Past President and Life Member Margaret Johnston in 1995, who is still on the board. The adoption of a new constitution in 1994 saw the demise of the ladies bowling club as a separate entity and has now become the Ladies Section of the Tenterfield Bowling Club. We have however retained our own executive for the conduct of the Ladies Bowls, all other affairs are managed by the Board.

Reading through the minutes of the monthly meetings held during in 1990’s, the ladies contributed $2500 towards the extension of the new club house, paid for retractable shades and donated $1000 towards new seating around the greens. In 1994, a new constitution and by-laws were drawn up and the men’s and ladies clubs were amalgamated into the one club. In the late nineties, meetings were held less frequently, but the same issues we have today were also a problem then.

In 1997, three foundation members attended the 40th Anniversary celebrations, Viola Armstrong, Maude Mildenhall and Lorna Tate.  Mona Bailey was unable to attend as she was sick in hospital.

In 2000, new dress regulations came in with each club allowed to have skirts, shorts or slacks, the ladies voted on green to match the diamond pattern on their tops.  2003, saw the introduction of the Bowls Australia logo on uniforms.  In 2016, we adopted our new uniforms with Tenterfield Autumn leaves.

We have most of our past presidents here today: Jean Halliday (1995), Pat Pepper (1998-1999), Margaret Johnston (2000, 2001), Joy Bailey (2004), Judy Durham (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010), Katy Graham (2011),   Pauline Romer (2012), Elaine Symko (2013, 2014, 2015).

Once again, we thank those who have gone before us, for their efforts in providing us with the facilities we enjoy today.  They have not been forgotten, for today, we remember them.

Here’s the live version: