Malvern Bowling Club’s history begins in 1911. Malvern thrived, enjoying considerable prosperity. It was declared a city in March of that year, and the tramline along Dandenong Road was opened. Discussions were underway regarding construction of another line, along Glenferrie Road to link Malvern and Kew.
A bowling green (probably the first in Victoria) was constructed in 1862, beside the Gardiner Hotel at the corner of Dandenong and Glenferrie Roads. This benefited “gentlemen who are desirous of practice at cricket, bowls, or pigeon shooting” and patrons of the hotel.
Bowling Club History
Melbourne Bowling Club (Melbourne’s first bowling club and a club largely featured in the movie ‘Crackerjack’) began in 1864, at Windsor, with 182 members.
A number of prominent Malvern citizens decided to form a club. 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. On 20th October 1911, the Malvern Bowling Club was given official registration as a club with its own Constitution.
Malvern Bowling Club’s 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 held 42 meetings.
The club began with 119 members and the annual subscription was two guineas. Regarding 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 especially thanked VP Leonard Flanagan (an architect) for the planning and supervision of its construction. A billiard room will be added later.
The Club joined the (formerly) Victorian Bowling Association and entered one team for Pennant and tied with the Brighton Club for second place in the section.
First Life Member
The first President and first Life Member of the club was the Hon. F Hagelthorn MLC. Born in 1864 at Sebastopol, Hagelthorn had risen from humble beginnings to a responsible ministerial position in the Victorian Parliament. After leaving school at 14, he worked as a “whim boy” at the gold mine and after a few years had saved enough to start a small general store. Hagelthorn prospered and went on to build a large and successful business as a land agent with headquarters in Horsham.
Having a lifelong interest in the Mallee and Wimmera, Hagelthorn entered Parliament, working hard to help the wheat farmers of these regions. In 1913, he became Minister for Public Works but retired from Parliament six years later. Unusually for a politician, Frederick Hagelthorn was widely respected for his integrity and honesty. 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.
In 1959 women were admitted to the club as ‘Associate Members’. Mrs G Kerry was the first president of the associates, Mrs A K Anderson the first Hon. Secretary and Mrs AW Thomas, the first Ladies Club Champion.
Finally, in 1959, a major project was undertaken in the rebuilding of the clubhouse. The new premises officially opened in August 1961.