A tribute to the Founders and those who throughout the past Twenty-one years have served the Club.

TO ALL CONCERNED,-

It would have given the writer much pleasure to have been able to devote the time necessary to prepare for the auspicious occasion of the Twenty-first Anniversary of the Club a suitable brochure in recognition of the indebtedness of present members to the Founders of the Club. The opportunity, however, must not be allowed to pass without expressing in some small measure our tribute of gratitude and congratulations on a splendid achievement.

Viewing what was prior to 1923 a mud creek flat, some public spirited citizens envisaged the utility and beauty to which those “ethics of the dust,” as Ruskin would have called them, could be transformed. They accordingly set to work.

It is not difficult for even the youngest Club member to conceive the tremendous organisation and labour necessary to bring this vision into reality, and the reality into fruition. Meetings were held in various homes; the first public meeting to launch the scheme was held in the kiosk at Central Park. Enthusiasm spread, increased support was forthcoming, until at last the transformation began, and the Club and its privileges which we enjoy to-day became an accomplished fact.

In token of warmest appreciation, I append hereunder a copy of Clause 29 of the Articles of Association of the Club, which bears the date 6th August, 1923:-

“Clause 29-The first Committee of the Club shall consist of the following:-

President: Mr. W. G. Ferguson
Vice-Presidents: Dr. F. Lemon, Mr. A. A. Brahe
Committee: Messrs. A. Phillips, T. J. Martyn, A. A. Mitchell, H. M. Barker, F. T. Bullock, G. Peacock, A. E. Seller, W. H. Roughton, V. Wilson and G. M. Coulter
Hon. Secretary: Mr. H. A. Winton
Hon. Treasurer: Mr. W. L. Richardson”

Of the above original Committee, the only member in active playing association is Mr. A. A. Mitchell, who likewise is the only original commiteeman who is still a member of the present Committee. Some of the originals are, unfortunately, now deceased, but others still manifest a keen interest in the Club’s welfare. Mr. A. A. Brahe, original Vice-President, served the Club with distinction as President during the years 1925/26 to 1929/30 inclusive. He was made a life member in 1934 – a worthy recognition of his practical and continued interest.

Links of Service

The following have served the Club in the intervening years as President and General Secretary respectively:-

President Hon. Gen. Secretary
W. G. Ferguson, 1923-24-1924-25 H. A. Winton, 1923-24
A. A. Brahe, 1925-26-1929-30 H. W. McAlister, 1924-25
A. B. Gairn, 1930-31 V. C. Treyvaud, 1925-26-1928-29
A. A. Stewart, 1931-32 F. B. Laver, 1929-30
E. Roughton, 1932-33-1935-36 J. V. Nelthorpe, 1930-31
J. C. Elliott, 1936-37-1934-44 F. B. Laver, 1931-32
G. De V. Bosisto, 1932-33
W. Lambert, 1933-34-1937-38
D. S. Campbell, 1938-39-1939-40
W. Lambert, 1941-42-1943-44

 

In addition to those enumerated above, who link the past with the present in a continuous chain of service, there rank the officers and members of the General and Sectional Committees, whose splendid works have enhanced and maintained the high standard which was originally designed and established.

Capital Outlay

The capital outlay involved in establishing the Clib was £9100. This large sum was expanded in the following manner:-

Purchase of Land £1200
Construction of Tennis Courts (original asphalt) 2600
Construction of Bowling Green £715
Construction of Croquet Lawn 485
——- 1200
Construction of Club House 1600
Grading, Levelling, Drainage, Fences, Hedges, etc 2500
£9100

 

The funds were provided in the following manner:-

Private Loan £1800
Debentures 6318
Special Efforts, Donations, etc 982
£9100

(figures are given in round numbers.)

Debentures

As indicated above, the sum of £6318 was raised by issue of debentures, bearing interest at rate of 6% per annum. The debenture holders numbered approx. 500, and comprised in some individual cases large holdings. Unfortunately, the revenue from membership and other usual Club sources was not sufficient to meet the annual interest liability, and recourse was had for a time to special fetes and efforts. A number of holders, in response to an appeal in 1928/29, surrendered or reduced their holdings. The liability was thus reduced by an amount of £500.

Following this period, the world-wide depression hit Australia, and none escaped its relentless grip. It was not until the year 1933 that its effects were dying away. The effect on the Club was, inevitably, a severe restriction in membership and revenue. The arrears of interest on debentures were assuming large proportions, whilst the grounds, and particularly the tennis courts, were in bad repair for want of maintenance. This might appear dismal reading for a 21st anniversary rejoicing. The reason, however, I hope, will be apparent later.

Crisis and Courage

It was evident, at the end of the 1933/34 financial year, that a crisis was approaching. Tennis courts had fallen badly into disrepair, and as a consequence membership continued to decline. Two new asphalt courts were constructed, but this did not redeem the position. The climax came with the abnormal rains in December, 1934. The flood waters overflowed the banks of the creek adjoining the property and inundated the Club grounds. The courts were destroyed, and the bowling green and croquet lawns were smothered in slime and mud. Mr. E. Roughton was President at this period, and to him I unhesitatingly hand the palm for that almost “bulldog” tenacity with which he faced up to the situation at this difficult period, and praiseworthily-won through. He presided over some long and anxious committee meetings. Every avenue that might solve the difficulty was exploited, even the possibility of transferring the grounds to municipal ownership. A courageous course was eventually adopted. The Committee approached the debenture holders with the obvious fact that the Club could not function under its existing heavy burden of indetedness, and suggested that the holders might consider a compromise of their holdings. With magnificent generosity debenture holders met the situation, and agreed to the following arrangement:-

  1. Debentures to be written down to a value of 10/- in every £ thereof.
  2. Interest to be paid at rate of 11% on written-down value.
  3. Date of maturity of debentures extended from 1938 to 1943.
  4. All interest accrued and unpaid at 30/6/1935 to be waived.

Approval was given to the Committee to raise a loan of £1650 to repay an existing loan and reconstruct the tennis courts. The arrangement was confirmed by order of the Supreme Court in October, 1935. This magnanimous gesture on the part of debenture holders was mainly their own proposals. The writer was active in all the negotiations and transactions which took place at this important period of the Club’s history, and will always remember with gratitude the kindly expressions of encouragement and good will expressed by the debenture holders, many of whom made great sacrifices in order that others might enjoy the fruits of their labours. This is what it meant – the debenture liability of £5530 as at 30/6/35 was written down to £2765, and the accrued interest liability, amounting to £2448 at the same date, was waived.

A New Era

Benefiting from this generous arrangement, the Club entered enthusiastically into a new lease of life. Five tennis courts of the modern porous standard were constructed on correct alignment – (the original courts were not laid out true north and south), tennis membership began to flourish, until eventually four more courts were constructed with funds raised entirely by the tennis section. Enthusiastic members, by voluntary labour, constructed two grass courts. There, however, were subsequently discarded, and replaced by porous courts. The Club now possesses eleven good porous courts.

The influx of tennis members became so great that the membership at one stage had to be closed. In 1939, just prior to the outbreak of war, the tennis membership numbered 225 senior members; in addition there was a waiting list of over 50 names.

Following the arrangement with the debenture holders, the administration of the Club was reorganised in a manner which provided for sectional accounting and management. This took the form of three groups. The tennis section formed one group; the bowls and croquet sections formed a combined separate group; the third group, called the “house and grounds account,” covered all expenditure and revenue not directly apportionable to the other two groups. Expenditure on capital liability, such as interest, redemption, etc., is apportioned on a ratio based on the capital cost of establishing the Club, whilst the excess of expenditure revenue in the “house and grounds account” is apportioned on a per capita basis over the other sections. This basis proved sound, and has been a great factor in facilitating the financial administration of the Club.

Marking Time

A major objective was to gather a sufficient reserve to redeem the debenture liability at the extended date of maturity, 30/6/1943. Debenture holders had been invited to accept club membership for themselves or their nominees in token for the surrender of their debentures. A number had surrendered their holdings or retired them for a consideration below face value. In addition, funds were being accumulated to meet the liability ahead. Unfortunately, the loss of membership following the outbreak of war, and the diversion to patriotic purposes of revenue which would otherwise have been available to augment the redemption fund, rendered it impracticable to achieve the desired objective, and so the maturity date (30/6/43) arrived without sufficient funds being available to meet the debenture liability. Debenture holders once again generously assisted the Club by agreeing, at the request of the Club, to continue their holdings until a period of twelve months after the end of the war. Many debenture holders at this stage expressed their keen interest in the Club, and intimated that, although they may not now actively participate in its privileges, the debenture gives them an interest and makes them feel they are still part of it.

Debentures were taken up during the year by present Club members, and the Committee would deem it a worthy gesture and a token of appreciation for all that the original debenture holders have done, if more members followed this good example.

The following statement clearly indicates the benefit which has attended the Club as a result of the transactions of recent years:-

Club Indebtedness

At 30/6/35 At 30/6/37
(After Reconstruction)
At 30/6/44
Debentures £5530 £2369 £1741
Loan 775 1625 1500
Arrears of Interest on Debentures, Liability 2448 ——- ——-

 

It will thus be seen that, although this section of the report is headed “marking time,” the Club has not halted. In fact, enlarged activities are envisaged in early post-war years.

Bowls and Croquet Sections

Tennis affairs seem to have loomed largely in this report. What of the other sections? The experience of the bowls and croquet sections has been one of steady advancement. The greens and lawns were opened for the first time for play in December, 1924. The bowls section opened with a membership of 46, as against the present total of 98. The present croquet membership is 44. I have not the figures at the opening date. The croquet section, by means of funds raised by their own endeavours, doubled the size of their playing area, and at the present time are engaged on the enterprise of a further extension to cope with increasing membership. Funds for the installation of the lockers in the Club House, used by croquet members, were raised directly by that section.

Foundation Members

Heartly congratulations are accorded to the following foundation members who are still recorded on the membership roll. It is a pleasure to report that many of these members continue in active play of their respective games:-

Mr. A. A. Brahe,* Miss H. Brahe,* Mr. L. Baxter,† Mrs. Baxter,† Mr. J. C. Blair,† Mr. S. C. Birtchnell, Mrs. Birtchnell, Mrs. C. S. Brookes, Mrs. Clayton,* Mr. E. Cheslin, Mr. A. Edwards, Mr. A. B. Gairn,† Mrs. King, Mr. J. Lawrence,† Mr. G. Mulchinock,† Mr. A. A. Mitchell, Mrs. Muirden, Mr. F. Norman,* Mrs. Ralph,† Mr. E. I. Rosenblum, Mrs. Stewart, Mrs. M. Witt.

* Indicates honorary life membership conferred for special services rendered.
† Indicates life membership conferred in token of surrender of debentures.

My apologies to anyone whose name I may, unwittingly, have omitted to mention.

Members on Service

I am informed that a prominent member, at the first public meeting held to launch the movement, declared that the proposed Club was intended to be a rallying point for our youth and worthy of its purpose. Little was it realised when that remark was made that the 21st anniversary of the institution designed to cater for the joys of peace and the happiness of youth would find the world again at war.

Members of the Club, numbering about 70, are scattered abroad on service in every land and clime. Their service, sacrifice and heroism have made it possible for those at home to continue, without undue interruption, to enjoy the benefits of the friendship and recreation made possibly by the facilities which this Club offers. Communications received from these members indicate their anticipation to return to the Club and its enjoyments of pre-war days as soon as the guns cease firing. Members at home owe it to those who are away to see that nothing is languishing when they return.

Gleanings

The honoured “firsts”, – Mrs. M. Witt (still a player) hit the first ball over the tennis net; Mrs. Ferguson (wife of the original President) threw the first jack on the bowling green, and Mrs. H. M. Barker (daughter of A. Edwards, who is still a member) bowled the first bowl; the first croquet hoop was played by Mrs. G. Peacock.

The first social event was a dance, organised by three then members of the tennis section – Miss Brahe, Miss McAlister and Miss Edwards. For this event Mr. Arthur Edwards’s piano was transported to the Club house, and the chairs were borrowed. Of the tree ladies named, Miss Brahe is still an enthusiastic member. She was secretary of the croquet section, of which she is now a member, for a number of years. In recognition of her long, faithful and devoted service to the Club, Miss Brahe was, two years ago, made a life member.

In the early period, until the erection of the Club House, the iron shed, now used as a tool house, was the “Cafe de Luxe.” Water for afternoon tea was boiled in the open in kerosene tins. Mrs. Clayton, for a long period of years, voluntarily took charge of the buffet and catering service, and in reward for her splendid services in this regard she was made a life member.

The Club House, as at present existing, was designed to be the back portion of a more commodious building, which was to occupy the area in front of the Club House on which the flagpole now stands. The inability to proceed with the more pretentious structure was a blessing in disguise, as it would have made impracticable any extension to the bowling green or croquet lawns. The membership in the bowling section has increased to such an extent that an extension of the green will soon be necessary. In fact, just prior to the outbreak of war, the Committee had under serious consideration the removal of the Club House and extension of the bowling green. As already intimated, the croquet lawns are now being extended. This matter must receive early attention immediately on the cessation of hostilities, for the reason that the Club House will be inadequate when the activities of the Club return to pre-war standard.

The inaugural meeting for the formation of the bowling club was held at the “Korowa” School.

A movement which is destined to play a great part of the future of tennis originated in this Club some eleven years ago, when Mr. H. Wallace and the Tennis Committee introduced the School Championship Tournaments, which are held in May each year. These tournaments are very popular, and in pre-war days attracted competitors from all over the State, The tournaments have been continued each year since their inauguration, although in 1942 and 1943 the competitions were held in a restricted form.

Memories and Dreams

If one were acquainted with the full facts, what a delightful story could be written of the activities and experiences of this Club, and the personalities who have been associated with it over the past 21 years. If these few rambling lines should awaken pleasant memories to readers of long association with the Club, this somewhat hurried effort will not have been in vain. If it should also have the good fortune to imprint upon present members an appreciation for those who have toiled and laboured, and if, further, it should inspire a determination in all members to uphold the high traditions of the Club, set them dreaming of schemes ahead, and be evidenced by wholehearted co-operation in the still greater development of the Club, the effort will have indeed been worth while.

In Conclusion

A member of the Club, who took an important part in its establishment, and, as he was a “leader” in the first bowls pennant team, may have actually played the first bowl in pennant matches, but, owing to advancing years is now unable to actively participate in all Club privileges, recently suffered an unfortunate bereavement. In responding to a letter of sympathy forwarded to him, he replied with these words:-

“May the Club ever be both a boon and a blessing alike to young and old.”

These words, uttered with a maturity and experience of 21 years, are surely both a benediction and a challenge.

May the founders of this Club and those who have served and who continue to serve, unstintingly to build yet higher the reputation of the Club find great satisfaction in the knowledge that the Club continues to fulfil the great purpose for which it was so well designed, and that within the gamut of its facilities and privileges old and young alike find recreation, relaxation, friendship and respite from the cares and struggles of life, and that there will continue to abound within its influence all the elements of joy, friendship, peace and happiness.

Might I here express and apologies for all that I have left unsaid, and perhaps (!), alas, for the things I have not have said. This humble attempt at an eulogy has been written of my own volition, and has been prompted as an expression of esteem and appreciation for the pleasures and enjoyment I have experienced during my twelve years’ membership, the warm friendships I have made, and the courtesies without number which have been extended to me, and, above all, in token of congratulation and a small tribute of appreciation to those who, inspired and actuated by the loftiest ideals of citizenship, have made it possible for all to enjoy the same privileges. Thank you.

With compliments and greetings,

W. LAMBERT
Hon. General Secretary

1st August, 1944.

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