Grange & Henley Beach Bowling Club 1906-1923

Early History

A meeting to discuss forming the Grange and Henley Beach Bowling Club was held at the Grange Institute on the 12th May, 1906 at which Alderman King from the Henley and Grange Council offered land to establish bowling rinks near the Kirkcaldy station. His offer was accepted at that meeting. Then at a second meeting on the 11th June, 1906, again at the Grange Institute, a motion and vote was taken to form the club and with a current membership of 43 members this became the official foundation day of the club.

The block of land was in Swan Street near Kirkcaldy Railway Station and was chosen for its five-rink potential. This is now on Wilson Court – renamed when Swan Street was closed off from Beach Street, which was sometime between 1970-1975.

By August 1906 funds became available to procure the land, to allow 5 rinks to be prepared. Water was laid, and the land prepared and planted with couch-grass, with an encircling hedge of Kaffir thorns. It is likely that the couch grass was gathered locally, put through a chaffcutter and broadcast over the ground to create the grass.

The greens were officially opened on Monday 28th January 1907, when between 20 and 30 members and friends assembled on the rinks. Mr. A. W. Ralph who had been elected as the 1st President (11-06-1906), presided over the greens opening, referring to the inauguration of the club some eighteen months prior. The ‘Evening Journal’ newspaper reported on the following day that “The green is in capital order, considering the short time it has been made.”


The first clubhouse was a piano case in which the ‘tools of trade’ were kept for some time. The next step was the building of a small iron shed in the south-east corner of the ground. A year or two later a clubhouse was constructed, the dimensions being 6m by 3.6m. Electric light was installed over three rinks in 1912 and improved and expanded to the other rinks over subsequent years.

During these early ‘growing years’, the bowlers also decided to alter their rinks in 1910. Changing orientation from east to west, rather than north and south – due to late afternoon sun interfering with play. By then the clubhouse had already been shifted, and plans to extend the green northwards by an additional 9+ meters were made.  These changes would then expand the number of rinks to seven.

The 1916 clubhouse and the Grange and Henley Beach Bowling Club

As the membership gradually increased, further accommodation became necessary, and in 1916 a more substantial two-story structure was erected at the northern end of the rink near where the carpark is today. Its ground floor was utilized as a clubroom and the upstairs rooms being a tearoom and kitchenette. Further extensive improvements were carried out between 1922-24 with the upstairs room being converted into a large social hall and tearoom, the kitchen enlarged, and a roomy committee room and office constructed.

The upstairs room had a balcony overlooking the green, and another for viewing the Croquet lawn.

The opening of this new clubhouse on Saturday 21st October, 1916 bought some reflection on the club’s early beginnings. When players had only a tent to change in, no lockers, and they played just for the enjoyment of it. Mr A. Greig was lauded for tending to the green for many years, as were several other members named, in helping the young club gain a foothold in the community, however, shortly after, in 1914, a few hiccups started to develop, and water was evidently cut off and the green died. This bought about a major turn around in leadership, with water supply and greens being restored to top condition, along with an overall tidy-up of the grounds. During these vast changes, a new clubhouse was proposed, which was greeted with much enthusiasm. This was soon undertaken when Mr. Scott advanced £200 (equal to approx. $23,000Au in 2022), with a low interest rate, and Mr. Forder followed up with a building plan, and offer to construct it for that sum.

The name ‘Grange and Henley Beach Bowling Club’ was dropped when Henley formed its own club in 1922 and the club continued thereafter as the Grange Bowling Club.  During 1954 a new single-story clubhouse 39m x 11m was built at the southern end and the original two-story clubhouse at the northern end of the green, was demolished. The new clubrooms opened in October that year and is still being used (Dec 2023).

Croquet Club

During these early years, the bowling club grounds were also home to the Grange and Henley Beach Croquet Club. Its inauguration also took place in the ‘Grange Hall’ (Institute) on the 30th August 1911.  Both the bowling club and the croquet club often held fundraising events to support the first world war effort.

Grange and Henley Beach Croquet Club fundraising event in aid of comforts for the Third Light Horse Regiment, March 30, 1917

Jillian Crider remembers ....

F.W.R. Lill (my grandfather) was President of the Grange Bowling Club in 1924 and possibly other years (1926 being one) and Vice President in 1925. He was one of the original members and was their first ‘Life Member’. In the clubrooms, there is a plaque on the wall commemorating him. My Grandmother (Mrs F.W.R. Lill) was, in at least one year, President of the Grange Croquet Club (1926).

One of my very earliest memories when not more than a toddler, was being upstairs, in Grange, in a 2-story building. I knew it was only a short walk from our home. I remember it as it had dark, beautifully polished wooden floorboards. I would run back and forth on these floors only to be reprimanded by my grandfather for doing so as my shoes clattered – which was so frowned upon. I was having fun and hated being told off for doing something so enjoyable.

Then later on as a child suddenly I could no longer remember where it might be, as it had ‘disappeared’. I forever got told that I ‘imagined’ things, so I never asked, as I always wondered if it was my imagination. Decades later I asked many people, and people just shook their heads, no, they knew of no such building. I seemed to remember women in a side room fixing sandwiches, and such, many still wore quite long dresses and had on frilly full cover aprons. For something like that to disappear was confusing. It wasn’t until I was able to find images on Trove, and being born in 1948, and the new clubhouse being opened in 1954 meant that indeed this was the upstairs wooden floorboards of the original two-story Grange Bowling Clubrooms that I ran wildly across!

There were very few two-story buildings in Grange so it certainly stood out for me. I still have strong memories of it. Amazingly so!

Research Sources

The following sources have been compiled and curated by Jillian Crider (nee Capon), member of H&GHS and Grand-daughter of F.W.R. Lill (ex-President and Life Member of Grange Bowling Club) in 2019.

Advertiser (Adelaide, SA: 1889 – 1931), Saturday 12 May 1906, page 12
Register (Adelaide, SA: 1901 – 1929), Wednesday 22 August 1906, page 8
Evening Journal (Adelaide, SA: 1869 – 1912), Tuesday 29 January 1907, page 3
Observer (Adelaide, SA: 1905 – 1931), Saturday 27 July 1907, page 7
Chronicle (Adelaide, SA: 1895 – 1954), Saturday 7 December 1907, page 19
Chronicle (Adelaide, SA: 1895 – 1954), Saturday 5 March 1910, Page 19
The Mail (Adelaide, SA: 1912 – 1954), Saturday 14 October 1916, Page 9
Chronicle (Adelaide, SA: 1895 – 1954), Saturday 28 October 1916, page 30
Express and Telegraph (Adelaide, SA: 1867 – 1922), Thursday 12 August 1920, page 1
Register (Adelaide, SA: 1901 – 1929), Friday 19 October 1928, page 4

Jillian Crider (nee Capon)
Original Image Credits: H. Kriscbock (photographer)


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