First attempts to establish a Bowls Club in Bayswater (in 1981) were largely unsuccessful, but a number of the people involved persisted with the idea, and, following a public meeting attended by more than 100 people, a new committee was formed in 1983 which began negotiations with Knox Council for use of a section of Guy Turner Reserve, which is also home to cricket and tennis clubs.
In June, 1984, Council approved the erection of a clubhouse, two greens, and associated facilities. Several objections to the project were lodged, which the club successfully fought at the Town Planning Appeals Tribunal.
The club received a grant and a loan from the Council, used the funds it had raised which has been seriously eroded by the appeals process, and formed a co-operative to borrow the balance.
Apart from extensive excavations and the shell of the clubhouse, most of the work was done by members themselves at weekends. Meanwhile, would-be bowlers received tuition at Boronia, and then played in social events wherever we could, while fielding a pennant team as Oakleigh players. Carpet Bowls was played at the Station St Scout Hall and the Senior Citizens’ clubrooms.
We were granted official membership of the RVBA (the then men’s association) and the VLBA (Ladies) in 1988, when only one green was completed (the one nearest Phyllis Street). The Clubhouse was officially opened by the Mayor of Knox, our local councillor Marie Wallace, on September 10 prior to the start of the season.
In the beginning, all the work on maintaining the grass greens was conducted by members because we couldn’t afford a green keeper or contractor, and eventually, first the Phyllis St. in 1995, and later the other green (1998) were converted to synthetics. Funds were raised by borrowing from those members prepared to invest in us at commercial rates.
After lobbying for major amendments to be made to the severe restrictions that had been imposed on us by the planning tribunal, and thanks to State Government and Knox City Council assistance, we were able to install floodlights in 2009.
Knox City Council, aware of the importance of an amenity such as a bowls club in the city, greatly assisted (twice) to enable the Phyllis St green, by then known as No 2, to be replaced in 2011, and No 1 green in 2013.
We are proud to be part of the local community, not just a bowls club. We have created a facility that many local organisations and groups can and do use. Also, through our active involvement in advisory committees and consultation processes, we have had input into many other improvements in the area, including the redevelopment of Guy Turner Reserve as a whole, street art and even pedestrian crossings, and generally throughout the community hub in which we “live.”