Monday, March 23, 2009

Last Square Mile of Terra Firma Gabbled in the Mail

I drove past a week or so ago and noticed that the Preston Bowls Club is up for Sale. Sad fact of life regarding a changing demographic. The bowls club has also suffered from being too well located on a busy intersection between Murray Road and what is St Georges Road.

The Age did a very nice story on it which included some great pics.

Low kitty bowls Preston's kitty off the lawn
Kate Lahey
March 23, 2009

NEXT month, Preston Bowls Club will celebrate 100 years of existence. Then it
will sell its historic greens.
With only 60 members left, almost all aged between 70 and 100, and one about to turn 103, the club on Murray Road has been forced to close.
It is not just the bills and the lack of money, it is everything the ageing members need to do. Cleaning, maintenance, preparing food, running a bar — the weight of these tasks has become too heavy.
Preston ladies secretary, Pat Hamilton, has been a member for 30 years, her husband Alan has been a member for 40 years. Ms Hamilton's mother was once a member.
Ms Hamilton attributes the fate of the club to two things: women in the workforce
and a multicultural neighbourhood less interested in bowls.
About six years ago, Preston began to consider its future and started lending the clubrooms to a local Chinese social group, in the hope some might become members. None did.
It brought in school children for a few seasons, and before that, poker machines, which lasted a few years but cost more than they made.
"The only thing we never tried is barefoot bowling, but we're not really geared up for
that because, as I say, our members are ageing and it takes a lot of time and effort," Ms Hamilton said.
"It's a very sad day, really, but we see that there's nothing you can do. You've just got to think, well it's progress, though it's not progress for us, it's the way the world is now."
Peter Hanlon, executive officer of the Royal Victorian Bowls Association, said mergers and closures were not common around Melbourne, though some were occurring.
Many of the state's 531 clubs were vibrant and successful, whether memberships were in the scores or hundreds, he said.
"It seems to me that where clubs have become quite elderly within themselves and haven't taken that step of opening their doors to barefoot bowls or social bowls, that in some cases they end up missing the boat," Mr Hanlon said.
The challenge is to convert social players to memberships, and find enough willing to commit to a season of pennant.
To help with this, the RVBA is piloting shorter programs, of six to eight weeks, and not necessarily on a Saturday.
Mr Hanlon compares pennant to test cricket.
"That continues to be successful but there's another market out there that love the one-day or the 20-20, so we need to market an abridged or briefer version of the game."
Preston will merge with Reservoir, taking the proceeds of the sale along.
The first Preston club opened on High Street in 1909 and moved to its existing site in 1925. This season, the club's top women's team and a combined men's team both won their sections in the state pennant competition.
"That was quite a bit of a boost to us, to think we were still capable of doing that," Ms Hamilton said.

The bowling club site is being sold by tender as a development opportunity



Jayne said...

That is a damn shame, to see not only the history but the actual place disappearing.
Our local bowls club took on new ideas and from a club on the brink of folding only 6 yrs ago it's now looking healthy and successful.
Barefoot bowls, indoor carpet bowls in Winter, sausage sizzles, social nights (with really decent bands!), etc, kids encouraged - Feral Beast is 12 and has been playing since he was 9.

dam buster said...

Jayne - It is sad. I think that the location is the clubs downfall. Being on the corner of two busy streets with no joining parklands, or adequate parking makes the place a bit industrial. If it was located in a quieter location then i am sure things would be different.

Anonymous said...

I am reading this article second time today, you have to be more careful with content leakers. If I will fount it again I will send you a link