The Club History

Dee Why Bowling Club’s first History was written in 1986, Club President Bruce Jeffery thanked the tremendous documentary efforts of Fred Boreham, Bill Gilson and other members. Most of this history has been obtained from that Diamond Anniversary publication “DEE WHY BOWLING CLUB 1926 TO 1986”.

From its humble beginnings in 1926, as seen in the photograph above, the official opening on the 8th December 1927 was reported by the Manly Daily in these terms:

“The Dee Why Bowling and Recreation Club reached the first successful stage in its worthy objective with bunting floating gaily overhead the green sward of the green beneath, and nature in perfect accord, the green of the Dee Why Bowling Club was officially opened. Farsighted men in this community, visualising the future growth and development of this beautiful district realised the importance of recreation areas. The bowling green in Lismore Avenue is the first step in a progressive programme. Later will come the tennis courts croquet lawns and pavilion that will form a necessary part of a community’s welfare Among the pioneers in this scheme were O F Weight, T A Melrose, S R Denmark, ‘Billie’ Wilkie, Dr Failes and Councillor A G Parr.”

The reporter also added his mead of praise to the active ladies committee who provided the refreshments. They included Mesdames Lister, Parr, Waller, Melrose, Murray, Wilkie, Smith, Marr, Carfoot, Dennis and Miss Lister.

For the Official opening Bill Sewell was authorised to purchase 2 bottles of whisky, a dozen lager, 3 dozen cordial and the requisite amount of milk (from Milton’s dairy in Lynwood Ave) which was quite enough for the 44 members.

Land Acquisition

Three hundred pounds was raised to purchase two blocks of land in Lismore Avenue from Henry Mashman, later added to by further purchases from Mrs Miller. Both deals were engineered by Oscar Weight, the founder of that enterprise, and Horrie Hayman of Timber and Hardware fame. It had been previously suggested by the latter that there was plenty of land available near Cromer Golf Club, he being the founder of that Club. Its inaccessibility, and at that time, hazardous approaches, ruled it out. Enough was left over from accumulated funds to purchase sundry necessities such as shovels from Prentice’s General Store at 8/- each, fertilizers from Ogilvies at 10/- a bag also the inevitable fowl manure. No wonder the Club has flourished.

The Clubhouse

These have been many and varied. The first mention of any structure resembling a clubhouse was made in 1929 when a Mr Moon, for the princely sum of £36, erected a building. It is doubtful whether bar facilities were provided as all the land from the lagoon to Cromer was part of the Jenkin’s Estate acquired by the Salvation Army at the turn of the century, and only released for urban settlement after a lengthy court case involving the Army’s London headquarters and the interpretation of the recently gazetted Real Property Act. Their main defence was the protection of swans and fish in the lagoon but this was defeated when an expert, sent by the presiding judge to investigate, reported no fish. However the covenant regarding the partaking of spirituous liquor remained until phased out with the passing of time.


Movement Orders

Like a creeping barrage, the shadows began to fall on the Lismore Avenue premises from the surrounding high-rise roof tops overlooking the area. The Club considered it time to look around for another site. Warringah Shire Council agreed to lease a portion of Dee Why Park to the Club next to Campbell Avenue. This seemed to meet the requirements but at the time public aversion to granting leases on parts of public reserves beat the scheme.

Land around Dee Why was at a premium and more remote fields had to be surveyed. Land at Dee Why West where there was a market garden in an area that a few years before had been a swamp. Swamps, like everything else, adjust to the market and the price of $94,000 seemed a little excessive. Fortunately $240,000 had been offered for the old site, and the deal was clinched on the understanding that Harry King, the developer, would not disturb the old until the new was ready for use. This wasn’t difficult as the land behind the club adjoining Holborn Ave was used as a car park. To hasten the process, King undertook to build a new clubhouse on the new property, to establish the greens and to bring it to playable condition before venturing on his project at Lismore Ave. The agreement was faithfully adhered to and the club was able to proceed with only a short break between changes, when once again Harbord Bowling Club gave us use of their greens.  Teething problems mainly concerned drainage as the land was subject to flooding from the small creek that flowed through. This was overcome by piping the creek under the greens.


Dee Why Women’s Bowling Club

The Women’s Club wasn’t formed until 1965. The ladies participated in most club activities long before 1965, provided entertainment when visitors came from Manly. And as mentioned above praise was given to the active ladies committee who provided the refreshments on the Official Opening and you can be sure on playing and function days as well.

In 1952 a mixed team went of play at Manly Bowling Club.


This is Lori Spriggs account of Dee Why Women’s Bowling Club.

“The formation of the Dee Why Women’s Bowling Club in 1965 put the advent of Women into the Dee Why bowling  beyond doubt. It was affiliated September 1965 and the first days play was on the 28th October 1965. At their first official meeting Beth Lowe was elected to the Presidency with Lottie Mallot as her Secretary and Dorothy Walsh her Treasurer. Seventy two members formed the nucleus of an ever growing club.

Following Beth Lowe in the chair was Jane Carter whose late husband, Phyl, donated the ‘Silver Rose Bowl’ for annual competition between Curl Curl Ladies’ Bowling Club (now called Dee Why RSL Women’s Bowling Club) and Dee Why.

Jan Minnett was the next to occupy the chair, followed by Connie Knappstein, Lou Beck, Tote Scholtz and then Lori Spriggs. In 1984-85 Dee Why won the Metropolitan No 2 Div 2 Pennant. The team comprised G Hill, P Andrews, N McGowan, P Wheeler, C Knappstein, L Spriggs, P Hodges, J McIntyre, A Ross and M Hall.

The ladies have always been to the fore in regards to catering. In 1976 a scheme was devised to roster lady members for this important job to avoid overworking the willing ones.

To conclude, the Women’s Club is fortunate to have Mrs Dorothy Watts as their Patron. Wife of the Late Lionel Watts CMG, MBE, FAIM of ‘House With No Steps’ fame.

The men were fortunate to have the ladies, with their fund raising genius, provide most of the furnishings and décor that made the Club an attraction.

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