Our club is not only the oldest in the Manawatu, but also has the
distinction of being the only freehold club in Palmerston North and in fact
one of a few in New Zealand. The position it is in today, financially,
facilities and amenities, bears testimony to the astute management and
control of executive and committee over the past 100 years.
It is a club where the pride of members in belonging is readily evident
and one which visitors say has a warmth of feeling and hospitality. This
fellowship is something that all members must do their utmost to foster
Mr. Walkley, publican of the Commercial Hotel, owned a private
bowling green in Lombard St laid in 1888 and undoubtedly he has the
honour of being the founder of bowls in the Manawatu. His efforts,
however, were not to be rewarded for long as he died about October 1892.
The Palmerston North Bowling Club was formed at a meeting held in
the Commercial Hotel on 23 December 1889 with nine persons in
attendance. Mr J. H. Hankins was elected president and held that office for
one year. The Vice Presidents elected were Messrs Cohen and Snelson
although neither of these gentlemen were in attendance at the meeting. Mr
Young was elected Secretary-Treasurer and the remaining seven members
present were elected to the working committee. These were Messrs
Clapperton, Drew, Hanna, Mowlem, Rutherford, W.L. Scott and Walkley.
In 1892 a number of members became guarantors to the Colonial Bank
for a sufficient sum to repay Mr Walkley for the green.
Then in 1894 a company known as the Palmerston North Bowling
Green Co. Ltd was formed and the first Chairman of Directors was Mr G. J.
Scott. This company took over the assets and liabilities of the club and
rented the green to the Bowling Club.
A special committee of the Bowling Green Co. Ltd was set up in
November 1899 to investigate the purchase of a property in Taonui Street
and to rent a strip of land on the North Side of the club in Lombard Street in order to allow for more playing area.
This was to be considered at a special general meeting on 21 December
1899 but lapsed for want of a quorum, as did one on 28 December 1899.
The rental offered for the strip of land was not accepted by the owners
and they in turn placed a price of 50 pounds (100 dollars) on the property.
The company counter-offered with 40 pounds (80 dollars). However, time
passed by and it was to be February 1901 before both parcels of land were
purchased. Work on the Taonui Street site started in April resulting in the
club having two greens.
At a company meeting on December 1 1899 it was proposed to merge
the Bowling Green Company Ltd with the club, but nothing transpired. It
was raised again on April 29 19O7 and was followed by the Bowling Club
passing a resolution at their 1907 Annual General Meeting to merge with
However, action from the company was slow as meetings called for 5
December 1907, 12 December 1907 and 20 September 1908 lapsed for
want of a quorum. Minutes of the club for the period of 1907-1908 are
missing so further club detail on this is not available.
The Bowling Club at their Annual General Meeting on 27 September
1909 again resolved that the Palmerston North Bowling Club as a separate
entity be abolished and merged into the Palmerston North Bowling Green
Co. Ltd. This merger was confirmed by the company at their meeting on
17 November 1909 and they subsequently adopted the Club rules.
The position remained as such until 24Ih June 1924 when at an Extra
Ordinary General Meeting the Palmerston North Bowling Green Co. Ltd
passed a motion that they
“transfer to the Palmerston North Bowling Club or to the trustees for
the said club, its freehold lands with frontage to Lombard and Taonui
Streets, Palmerston North upon which are situated the company’s
bowling greens in consideration to the said club assuming all liability
of the company under the mortgage to Mrs Beck or that alternatively
Mrs Beck be authorised to transfer or sell the said club the lands
comprised in the mortgage given to her by the company for the amount
due under the mortgage”.
The transaction was completed in August 1924.
The Lombard Street property was approved for sale at a special general
meeting on 24 October 1924 for the sum of $1800 and in the
following year a new pavilion was erected on the Taonui Street site for
$780 with further extensions being approved in July 1928.
In 1954 the City council advised the club of its intention to widen
Taonui Street and enquiries were made to find another property. A
special general meeting held on the 26 October 1954 passed the purchase
of part of the Palmerston North Tennis Club property in Linton Street for
$2550 pending the need to relocate from Taonui Street.
In 1957 a tender for the erection of a pavilion at Linton Street was
accepted at a price of $13084, the finance for this being arranged
by bank mortgage and free of interest debentures from club members.
However, the land purchased was insufficient to accommodate two full
size greens plus the desired pavilion so a rear portion of the Newbold
Estate property which fronted Ferguson Street was bought, thus enabling
the pavilion to be set back from the original boundary line.
On 18 October 1958 the Linton Street complex comprising the new club
rooms and two greens was opened by His Worship the Mayor Blair
Tennant. The club had at this time a playing membership of 208.
The Taonui Street property was turned into a car park and used as such
until a decision to sell ala price of $20,000 to K. H. Symes & Co.
Ltd was made at a meeting on 15 May 1960. Following this the bank
mortgage and debenture holders were repaid.
Extensions and alterations to the pavilion were approved at meetings
held on 11 March 1964 and 26 August 1968, with further alterations to
extend the front wall over the porch being approved on 6 August 1972.
Additions were made in 1976 at a cost of $20,213.00 to accommodate the
newly approved women’s section and the club remained as such until the
relocation of the bar and secretary’s office was made this past winter.
Land was leased from the Y.W.C.A. in 1970 and a third green laid.
Approval for the purchase of this land was passed at a special general
meeting on 6 December 1975, resulting in our total facility being freehold.
The price paid for the land was $8,000.00.
Approval was given at a meeting dated 27 October 1974 to purchase at
the negotiated price of $24,298.00 the property 23 Pitt Street, for the
purpose of providing possible future access to the club. The house was
rented until a decision to sell was made in September 1983 in order to
provide finance for the purchase of part of the Labour Party property_ in
Ferguson Street which was then converted into car parks. This also
provided us with a back entrance to the club pavilion. The sale of the
house realised $44,275.00 whilst the purchase price of the land was
$15,000.00. Ground preparation and the sealing cost $10,950.00.
It is interesting to note that the following present day members came
from Taonui Street or joined the year Linton Street opened:
C. R. Anderson
F. B. Hopwood
W. J. Broughton
J. P. Trainor
It would appear that the Club had its first major success on the greens in
1893 when it won the Champion Fours playing in the Northern Bowling
Association tournament at Wellington.
This was followed in 1898 when the Club won the Association
Champion Banner and Shield at Napier, this being only the second year
for which they had been played. In the 1902 tournament a team
compromising messers Buick, McPhee, Nash and Mowlem (Skip) won the
trophy presented by the Wellington Commercial Travellers’ Club whilst
the Club tied for the Champion Banner and Shield with Victoria of
Wellington, but lost on a play off.
The Northern Bowling Association at that time consisted of 31 affiliated
clubs from Auckland, Gisborne, Napier, Hastings, Dannevirke, Pahiatua,
Masterton, Carterton, Petone, New Plymouth, Stratford, Hawera, Patea,
Waverley, Wanganui, Feilding, Palmerston North, Wellington, Blenheim,
and Nelson comprising in excess of 2000 players.
In addition to the honours listed above he has won 32 club titles, been runner up twice in the National Singles and once in the National Fours. it will be a long time before such a record is
A special general meeting of the Club held on 13 February 1924
those ladies wishing to play be allowed use of one rink on
Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursday, Fridays free gratis for balance of
season and that the subscription for lady members next year be fixed at
the Annual General Meeting”.
No mention was made of this subject at the 1924 Annual General
Meeting and it would appear to have just lapsed. This, however, was not the first time the question of women members was raised. It was as far back as the Annual General meeting on 27
September 1900 that a vote was taken “on the feeling of the meeting-in
regard to ladies playing on the greens”. On a show of hands it was lost by
one vote. The club continued as “men only” until 1975 when at a special general
meeting on 21, September the admittance of a women’s section was
approved – ‘the wheels of change turn slowly’.
the inaugural meeting chaired by Mr Keith Garner was held on 9 May
1976when officers and committee women were elected and play started
in the 1976/1977 season. Further detail on the women’s section appears at
the end of the men’s history.
G. T. Griggs, who had the longest club membership, was admitted on
the 2G October 1940 and until his recent death was considered the father
of the present day club. He was elected to the committee in 1944 and
became Secretary in 1945. This was followed by Vice President in 1951,
President in 1953, first term as Club Captain in 1963, Patron in 1982, Life
Member in 1984 as well as serving on the committee in intervening
periods. The only office he did not occupy was Treasurer. In recognition
but his contribution Geoff was elected President of the Centennial
celebrations, but regrettably he was to be denied the honour he so richly
deserved. Just on 48 years of continuous full membership must surely be
close to a record. The position of Centennial Celebrations President was
then entrusted to Mr F. B. Hopwood, a Life Member, Past President,
Secretary, Treasurer and Green Superintendent, a most worthy successor.
The Club Captain was originally elected by the committee from within
their own ranks and the first so appointed was T. L. Seator on 27th June
1939, he being the father and grandfather of the present members Jim and
A separate indoor bowling club was formed in 1959 and this flourished
until the carpeting of the lounge in 1976/77 season caused-the club to go
into recess. Their contribution to the club during this period is most
worthy of mention.
The original club colours, decided upon at a meeting held 29 February
1892, were Grey and White striped coat and White hat with Grey band.
These colours were re-affirmed at the Annual General Meeting 1900.
The colours were changed by the General Committee in 1911, but there
is no reference to the alteration. At a special meeting on 30 September
1914 the colours became Navy Blue with Gold facings. Any other changes
are not recorded until mention of the present colours of Dark Blue and
Gold coming into effect on 12 October 1946.
Even with the advantage of daylight saving and cotula greens we see little
interest in twilight bowls, but in 1900 with longer working hours bowling
time was precious so that the club saw fit to install “incandescent”
lighting at the green and one can only assume full use was made of this
At the AGM of 1901 it was resolved to install a telephone at the club
and whether this was for the wives to check up or to check up on the
wives is not known. However, it is further evidence of the progressive
thinking that has been part of the club since its inception. Bear in mind
too that this was only 25 years after Alexander Graham Bell first made his
One was attached a “library” and for the repeated reference in the early minutes the need to ensure its sound operation. It turned out the members were not a lot of book-worms as further reading brought to light this was the minute reference to the bar cupboard. So much for noble thoughts.
The club ran the Easter Tournament up to 1917 at which time they
handed it over to the centre.
In 1934 players requested the banning of Henselite Bowls as they
claimed their woods were being damaged.
The club’s first life member Mr K. Wilson was elected at the meeting
held 10 November 1898 in recognition “of the many valuable services
rendered”. The next was not until 1913 and in 100 years there has been a
total of 23, of which only 10 have been honoured in the last 30 years. This
shows how highly the office is held.
The subscription in 1895 was 2 pounds.
We became a member as far back as 1925.
Today members are justifiably proud of their club, its fellowship,
amenities, greens and grounds. It is recognised as being among the top
strata of Clubs in New Zealand with an overall playing strength equal to
most and for quite a number of years has consistently produced up to one
third of the entries for Manawatu Centre events. In addition, up until this
past season we had for many years the longest single club entry outside
Taranaki for their open fours. Being part of our club is being part of the
history of Palmerston North, but let us not lose sight of the fact that all this
is the culmination of 100 years of time and effort willingly given by many
workers over this period.
P.N. Bowling Club Women’s Section
The formation of our Club followed the holding of a Special General
Meeting in September, 1975 by the Palmerston North Bowling Club when
the admittance of a Women’s Section was approved. This was followed by
the calling of a meeting, the notice for which read:
Palmerston North Bowling club (Inc.) women’s Bowling section
A meeting of the Wives of the members will be held in the Club Pavilion
on Sunday, 2nd November, 1975 at 1 p.m.
The Principles of the proposed Women’s Section will be outlined and
any questions answered.
J. D. Welsh
This meeting was chaired by Keith Garner who said that for 86 years,
membership of the Palmerston North Bowling Club had been restricted to
men only. However, 1976 being International Women’s Year and because
so many women had taken up the game of Bowls, it was decided by the
Committee to open the doors to women members. This was to assist the
existing member who would like to play at the same Club as his wife but
had either been forced to join another Club to do this or give the game up
It was only natural that the wives of present Club members be given first
preference as it had already been established how many were interested
One of the first to apply for man and wife membership when the doors
were opened to women was Eric Toye and his wife Elizabeth. Eric is a
paraplegic, and the P.N. Bowling Club was one of the first Clubs in P.N. to
build a ramp and cater for paraplegics.
Four committee members’ wives were to be appointed to liaise with the
President Keith Garner, Frank Hopwood and Jack- Welsh. Mesdames Olive
Cooley, Noreen McMurtrie, Noeline Reed and Evelyn welsh agreed, and
this Committee was formed to start the planning of the Ladies’ Club
Rooms and the Constitution of the P.N. Women’s Bowling Club based on
the P.N. Bowling Club rules and acceptable to the N.Z. Women’s Bowling
In view of the ladies joining the Club it was decided extensions would
have to be made to the pavilion. A games room, locker room and women’s
Iounge were then added to the existing building by voluntary work
carried out by members of the men’s Club.
The Inaugural Meeting of the Palmerston North Bowling Club Women’s
Section was then held at the Club Rooms of the P.N. Bowling Club in
Linton Street on Sunday the 8th May, I976.
Daisy Griggs conducted the Inaugural Meeting. 1979 was a special year for the Women’s Section
when Daisy received an award in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, and was
made a Member of the British Empire for services given to women’s
bowls, a great honour to Daisy and the P.N. Women’s Club. Daisy is
a Life Member of the Manawatu Women’s Centre, and is a Past
President of the N.Z. Women’s Bowling Association.
Coral Wing and Brenda Papesch with Nan Gibb were successfully selected as umpires at the Women’s World Bowls which were held in Auckland in November 1988.
Daisy Griggs also achieved a great honour in being invited to carry the
International Women’s Bowling Board Flag at the opening ceremony of
the World Bowls, an honour richly deserved.
The lady members have been very happy to be part of the Palmerston North Bowling Club, and if future members carry on in the tradition set by past members we are sure the P.N. Bowling Club will go from success to success.
*This history was taken from our centeneray booklet in 1989, if any members wish to add from 1989 to present day, please leave a comment below.
Comment from Dave Scott
I was surfing through your Club’s website, as a result of a medallion that I have inherited which bears the name of PN Bowling Club.
I’ve attached a pic of the front and back of the medallion. There is no date on the medallion, but the “W.L.Scott” engraved on the front was my Grandfather’s brother. Apparently they both emigrated from Stonehaven in Scotland around the same time – my Grandfather to Perth in Western Australia, and his brother to NZ.
It was interesting reading through the History section of the club that one of the founding members of the Palmerston North Bowling Club was a ‘Scott’ – whom I would punt was W.L.Scott – an ancestor of mine.
My grandfather – H.C.Scott – was a member of the Swan Bowling and Recreation Club Inc. in Perth. the Club is the third oldest in Western Australia, and is the oldest Club on its original site. Co-incidentally, Swan is one of the very few Clubs in WA which owns freehold title to its property.
So it seems that Palmerston North and Swan have much in common.
Appreciate any history you may be able to provide me with in relation to the medallion – when, what was the event, etc.
Attached is a pic hanging in the Swan Bowling Club-house of my grandfather (Henry Cecil Scott) and his partner, after having won the Western Australian State Pairs title in 1927-28. Maybe there will be a family resemblance if there are any old Marton Bowling Club photos around
If you have any information or advice for Dave, or would like his email address, please leave a comment below.