|CAMBERWELL CENTRAL BOWLS CLUB was incorporated in 1996. This suggests an extremely youthful club, but the reality is that the current club was created from the contributions of two other clubs: the City of Camberwell and South Camberwell.Below are extracts from “The First One Hundred Years of the Royal Victorian Bowls Association 1880-1980”, compiled by JohnHenshaw and published by R.V.B.A. in 1979. These provide the briefest of thumbnails of our two original clubs and their members.CITY OF CAMBERWELL: Founded on November 18, 1923. President was Cr. H. Rooks, secretary H. Hall. Nine men met at the private bowling green of Mr John Payne and decided to form a club. Camberwell Council granted land at the corner of Bowen and Trumper Streets, a green was laid and the pavilion opened on December 13, 1924. The greens were lit by electricity in 1926 and in 1965 a second green was established. Peak membership was reached in 1968 when there were 238 members, including ladies. Both Jack Spear and his father W.P. Spear played with the City of Camberwell. W.P. Spear and Frank Dobbie won State pairs in 1931 and Frank Dobbie was Australian singles champion in 1927 and 1931. A team skipped by A. Hurse won State fours in 1933. B and C fours were won in 1940 and 1950; and four division pennants were won in 1940, 1950 and 1952.
SOUTH CAMBERWELL: Founded September 21 1950, president H.F.W. Dawson, secretary F Hobley, the club begun as a social club, but affiliated with the R.V.B.A. in 1954. S.W. Gwillam supervised construction and subsequent extensions to the clubhouse. John Pette was treasurer for fifteen years, and the present secretary, Jack Camp, has served since 1968. Life members are F. Hobley, S.W. Gwillam, C.W. Giles, K.L. Kent, B.E. George, H.La Roch and founding president H.F.W. Dawson, who was awarded a United Nations Peace medal in 1975.
Around 1994, South Camberwell learnt that Vic Roads was to undertake major alterations to the Burke Road intersection with the Southeastern Freeway and required part of the South Camberwell property. This rendered the club’s operation unworkable. Rather than face closure, the committee investigated a merger or amalgamation with another nearby club. Eventually interest settled on the City of Camberwell, it being relatively close, having a small but aging membership and, more importantly, facilities with potential for improvement.
An approach was made to City of Camberwell, committee discussions were held and broader meetings were arranged in which members of both clubs were able to express their views. It was stressed that a new club would form at the Bowen Street premises and that it would not be a merger or takeover. Agreement in principle was nearly unanimous and in January 1996, a motion to form the Club was put to the memberships and duly passed. Then the hard work of integrating two clubs, each with proud histories, commenced.
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