The Fairfield Bowling Club started its life on the 21st of January 1913 as the Fairfield Bowling, Croquet and Tennis Club. The Club owes its beginning to Sir MacPherson Robertson, the well known entrepreneur and philanthropist, who offered use of the grounds of his villa in Station Street Fairfield known as ‘Carmalia’ for a recreation club. A public meeting was held at the residence of Mr W.J. Brewer at which the Club was formed with MacPherson Robertson as its inaugural president and Brewer as one of two Vice Presidents.
The Club continued with Robertson as president until 1920 when he was elected Club Patron and Ben Stibthorpe became President of the Bowling section. Up until this time the Club had remained at ‘Carmalia’ but in 1921 circumstances forced the Club to leave its original home. On September 21st 1921 the Fairfield Bowling, Croquet and Tennis Club was formally disbanded. Immediately following that meeting, another was held, the first of the newly formed Fairfield Bowling Club Company. In July of 1921 club member William Bolger had purchased land in Gillies St, Fairfield, with the intention of constructing a green and clubhouse.
The work on the new site had commenced immediately following its purchase, led by Bolger, his employees and club members. The green was ready for use by early 1922 and the Club held its first annual meeting in its new clubhouse on August 1st 1922. The Club duly paid William Bolger back for the land and thus became owners of its own property, rather than having a lease arrangement with the local council, as other clubs in Darebin, particularly those formed post World War Two have. The clubhouse has been extended through the years, including a kitchen area in 1954, but essentially is the same building today as it was in 1922.
In September of 1927 the Ladies Club was formed. Prior to this wives of members had volunteered at the club, helping with afternoon teas and social functions. It was Mrs A. Williams who led the drive for a ladies club, and it numbered 45 members after its first year. Mrs Williams was also the driving force behind fund-raising efforts to build the Ladies Room at the clubhouse, as well as a Men’s Card Room and Locker Room.
In 1950, the club shared in a great honour when Mr C. Sturtevant, the club champion of 1948-49, was selected to represent Australia in a series of test matches in Great Britain. He returned and presented the club with a pennant to commemorate the matches.
The Club first started to moot the idea of winding up the company in the late 1960’s but it wasn’t until 1985 that this was finally achieved with the Club dropping the word ‘Company’ from its name and becoming the property of its members under the trusteeship of five people.
The Club became incorporated in November of 1997 after a process that had begun over a year earlier in April of 1996. Following incorporation, in December of 1997 the Men’s Club approached the Ladies Club to discuss joining the Men’s Club in incorporation. At this time the Ladies Club voted to stay separate. By April of 2001 the proposal was back on the table and this time received the full support of the membership. Following the drafting of a new club structure the Ladies Club was wound up in May of 2002.
Fairfield Bowling Club has had discussions with Thornbury Bowls Club, as well as the merged club Darebin City regarding its future but at this point the Club intends to continue on its own, maintaining a tradition that now stretches over 90 years.
Lemon, Andrew (1983). The Northcote Side of the River. North Melbourne: Hargreen.
Webb, Alan. Fairfield Bowling Club: Club History. Unpublished.