This week in Episode 23 of Stepping Back in Times, we continue our sporting theme, looking at the early history of both Lawn Bowls and competition Cycling in Tamworth.
Tamworth was slower than several other North-West towns in getting Lawn Bowls up and going, a point stressed by local bootmaker A.E.Francis who convened a meeting on January 23, 1919 in the Oddfellows Hall in Fitzroy Street (current Police Station site) to investigate the formation of a Lawn Bowling Club.
This led to a grant of land by Tamworth Municipal Council of a 73m x 61m section of Britten Park (now ANZAC Park) on the corner of Brisbane and Napier Streets.
The first green established measured 37m x 35m, one of the first to have lighting for night games.
Unfortunate for some, the accessible toilet shed was quite distant!
James Shelton, a foundation member, built the first timber clubhouse and erected concrete retaining walls around the greens.
- Early Tamworth elections
- Tamworth's early newspapers
- Not so likely now, but Tamworth has had its fair share of big floods
- Tamworth's early, mainly wooden, buildings were prone to going up in smoke
- Take a trip down memory lane - Our beloved peel Street
- When posties were on bikes of the pedal-power kind
- Our ambulance service hasn't always been there
- Stepping back in Times: Growth of our hospitals
- Stepping Back in Times || Tackling our sporting history
- Stepping back in Times || Early Tamworth schools
- Stepping Back In Times || Sport tees off in Tamworth
- Stepping back in Times || Swimming to galloping
Doctor MacTaggart, another foundation member, laid out the gardens. By the end of 1919 (this 2019 being the Club's Centenary year), there were 60 members and the Club had an unbeaten record in "A" pennant matches.
Travelling to play their main rival Armidale would necessitate catching a 7:30am train and returning home at 11pm.
In 1930 a second green was established and builder Irwin Peterson added a dining room and recreation room to the Clubhouse.
The first Club Carnivals were held in the mid 1930's, attracting around 140 players from various parts of the State.
West Tamworth Bowling Club had its official opening on March 7, 1936, with the prime movers in the new Club's formation being Messrs Chalmers, Lansdown, Lambert and Mahony. A separate Ladies Clubhouse was opened in 1958.
North Tamworth Bowling Club was formed in 1948, with Messrs McDonald, Bruce-Clarke and Cooksley comprising the first executive.
Kootingal Bowling Club was formed during 1957, with a founding membership of about a hundred. It was one of the earliest Clubs to admit female members.
Their Clubhouse was officially opened on February 27, 1960. Four members set a Marathon Bowls World Record in 1977 by playing continuously for 53 1/2 hours in a charity fundraiser.
Tamworth & District Workmens Club located a bowling green on the site of the former Gould Bros.
Timber Yard, starting preparations in 1963, the Club beginning to play in 1966 with over 170 members. Executive officers were Messrs. Tongue, Couch & Whackett with Mes. Couch, Owen & McDonald. Oxley Bowling Club, situated near Oxley High School, was established in 1966.
There were early references in the local newspaper in 1874 of cycling being part of the Tamworth sporting profile, with Charles and David Silver being described as "leading cyclists".
However, our first bicycle club wasn't formed until 1877, the executive being Pharmacist Edwin Hunt, Brickmaker Alfred Hudson and Trainee-Solicitor George Newman.
Both daytime and evening events were conducted on local roads, with a track eventually laid down about 20 years later around The Oval (now Bicentennial Park). Bicycle brands sold in the town included Aeolus, Humber, Premier, Raleigh and Star.
The original Club had eventually folded by 1894.
A new Club was re-formed the following year, as the Tamworth Branch of the NSW League of Wheelmen. Executive were Auctioneer Nathan Cohen, Tailor Edwin Bailey and Builder/Sawmiller Richard Stanfield.
Women were amongst the town's cyclists, wearing slacks for convenience when riding, which related to a short but interesting court case at the time, as reported - "A young man was charged with kissing against her will a young lady on a public road.
His defence was that she was in bicycle costume, he mistook her for his brother whom he hadn't seen for a long time; case dismissed !"
In 1895 the Club conducted a 10 mile race from White Street to Nemingha and back.
It attracted some complaints from the general public about "the danger of racing in the town area". Richard Stanfield was one of the Club's top cyclists, performing well in Sydney and Maitland carnivals, as well as local events, including winning an open "half-mile championship" in Tamworth on November 9 (Prince of Wales Birthday), 1896 in a time of 1 minute 10.2 seconds.
In 1898, 6 years before the first motor car came to Tamworth, two Club members - Arthur Grayston and Edwin Bailey - took 4 days to ride their bicycles from Tamworth to Sydney to compete in a cycling carnival, reaching the starting line just before the race began.
A second Club, Tamworth Bicycle Club, was formed in 1899., the executive being Messrs Albert Creagh, Arthur Grayston and William Grayston.
A previous Victorian "penny farthing" champion, Robert Webster, joined the Club 10 years later, playing a significant role in the Club on conventional machines.
By 1932 the Tamworth Cycle Club had adopted the name Tamworth Amateur Cycling Club.
In 1933 they had the benefit of a new competition track with electric lights around No.1 Oval, and by 1937 had Council permission to also train on No.2 Oval (now part of Bicentennial Park).
Many local residents today will remember the cycling track around the perimeter of No.1 Oval, which was in use until 1992, before being replaced by the somewhat "white elephant" velodrome on Prince of Wales Oval, with a new velodrome soon to be opened behind the Sportsdome.
Mike Cashman - Tamworth Historical Society