In 1911 Malvern was a thriving suburb enjoying considerable prosperity. It was declared a city in March of that year, and the tramline along Dandenong Road was opened. There was talk of constructing another line along Glenferrie Road to link Malvern and Kew.
A bowling green (probably the first in Victoria) had been put down in 1862, beside the Gardiner Hotel at the corner of Dandenong and Glenferrie Roads; but this was mainly for the benefit of “gentlemen who are desirous of practice at cricket, bowls or pigeon shooting” and who were patrons of the hotel.
The first club in Victoria was the Melbourne Bowling Club which began in 1864 at Windsor with 182 members.
A number of prominent Malvern citizens decided to form a club, but little progress was made until the Hon. F. Hagelthorn gave a portion of his land, known as the Coonil Estate, for the use of the club. This generous gift enabled the club to provide a green and a pavilion and on 20th October 1911 the Malvern Bowling Club was given official registration as a club with its own Constitution.
The first committee consisted of the following: F. Hagelthorn (President), C S Clarke (Hon. Sec.), E Potts (Hon. Treasurer), L J Flannagan, W H Mclennan (Vice-Presidents), J Madder, T R H Willis, C A Norris and Dr Lee.
It was stated in the First Annual Report that the committee had held 42 meetings.
The club began with 119 members and the annual subscription was two guineas. At the first Annual General Meeting of the Club on 14th February 1912, the President reported that “a handsome and commodious pavilion has been erected at a cost of £402”. He specially thanked VP Leonard Flanagan (an architect) for the planning and supervision of its construction. It was intended that a billiard room be added later.
The Club joined the then Victorian Bowling Association and entered one team for Pennant and tied with the Brighton Club for second place in the section.
The first President and first Life Member of the club was the Hon. F Hagelthorn MLC. He was a man who rose from humble beginnings to a responsible ministerial position in the Victorian Parliament. He was born in 1864 at Sebastopol and after leaving school at 14 worked as a “whim boy” at the gold mine. After a few years he had saved enough to start a small general store. He prospered and built up a large and successful business as a land agent with headquarters in Horsham. He had a lifelong interest in the Mallee and Wimmera and on entering the Parliament worked hard to help the wheat farmers of these regions. In 1913 he became Minister for Public Works but retired from Parliament six years later. Frederick Hagelthorn was a man of great integrity and honesty and was widely respected. The late Sir Robert Menzies said of him “I honour the name of a great Australian”. His home “Mangoplan” was situated where Cabrini Hospital now stands. He lived there until 1920 but moved away from Malvern and died in 1943.
The year 1959 was a very significant one because in that year ladies were admitted to the club as Associate Members. The first president of the associates was Mrs G Kerry. Mrs A K Anderson was the first Hon. Secretary and the first Lady Club Champion was Mrs AW Thomas. With the coming of the ladies the club entered upon a new phase. Not only were we now able to enjoy the company of the ladies on the green but their enthusiastic support has been of tremendous value to the club in ever so many ways.
Also, in 1959 a major project was undertaken in the rebuilding of the clubhouse and the new premises were officially opened in August 1961. Over the years much work has been done to improve the green and the club amenities and today we have a club of which we can all be proud.