Ken Whitton and his history of Warwick East to be launched this weekend. Gerard Walsh
Ken Whitton and his history of Warwick East to be launched this weekend. Gerard Walsh Contributed

Golden years shine on greens

A short history of the Warwick East Bowls Club

THE first stirrings that began the life of Warwick East occurred in 1935.

In those years, lawn bowls was an extremely popular sport and the only club in town was Warwick club.

Warwick has only one green and the numbers that were able to play were limited, so agitation to get the town council to provide land for a second green and club gained momentum.

Council was quite hesitant about the proposal and in 1936 the mayor of the day was asked what progress had been made.

His reply was "the matter is as dead as mutton".

Many letters to council and the Daily News finally won the day and in November, 1936, it was published in the paper that land was being made available for a bowls green and tennis courts on the corner of Lyons and Fitzroy streets. The site was occupied by a cattle saleyards at the time.

The first president of the new club was an accountant, Mr P.V. Thomas, the first secretary was the headmaster of the state school, Mr Hunter, the first treasurer was businessman Alf Dempster. Mr Dempster's contribution to this club over many years was honoured with the initial green being named after him.

The club was inaugurated in August, 1937, and play began later that year. The ladies club was to follow soon after in 1939.

The first carnival hosted by the club was held in 1938, organised by Warwick club and Warwick East and was hugely successful. Possibly the most successful carnival staged by Warwick East was in the 1960s when 62 teams entered.

This carnival required the greens of Warwick East, Warwick, Southern Cross and Allora to be used.

In 1950, with Alf Dempster as president, the first mention of the need for a second green was made.

At the time, Mr Dempster predicted: "I contend that it will not be long before Saturday play will be men only, Sunday will be mixed, and ladies day will be mid-week.

One green will not be sufficient for our needs".

Mr Dempster was well ahead of the pack in this matter and it was not until 1972 that the second green was laid.

The cost was a "staggering" $10,000. In 1976, the big flood devastated the clubhouse. The clubhouse had grown from a two-room facility at the club's beginning to a quite impressive clubhouse in 1976.

The flood warped the timbers to such an extent that it had to be demolished.

The present clubhouse was officially opened on May 23, 1982, by president of the Royal Queensland Bowls Association Mr Gannon.

The debt placed on the club was considerable and we can thank the untiring efforts of the ladies of Warwick East for eliminating a huge part of the debt.

The ladies took on catering for outside functions to raise money and it is quite impossible to quantify the hours they spent doing so.

The 1980s through to the late 1990s were the boom years for bowls and Warwick East in particular. Membership of the men's club was over 100 and nearly the same for the ladies club. Profits were often well over $20,000.

It was during these years that lights were erected. Highlights included two national police bowls championships.

Amalgamation of the men's and ladies clubs occurred in 2002. As is the case with all bowling clubs across the state, we have been struggling with declining and aging membership.

At Warwick East, we are taking steps to reduce expenditure. We have applied for grants for solar panels to reduce electricity costs and water storage to reduce water costs.

Our plans include retractable shades over the Alf Dempster green. We look forward to the future with optimism.



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