History of the Club

Penguin Bowls Club was born over a few beers at the Neptune Grand Hotel between the licencees of the day Jerry McCauliffe, our initial President and a few of the local sportsmen.  Jerry donated the land on which the Tennis Court and the Bowling Green were to be established.

A public meeting to be held on the 11th of November 1927 saw the Penguin tennis court and the bowling club trust established for the establishment of these sporting facilities in Arnold St. opposite the then new school (the site of today’s Penguin market.)

The development committee to arrange the construction of the court and green comprised of: – Patron Jerry McCauliffe, President Bob Thorne, (Headmaster) Secretary Trevor Anderson, Treasurer Col Drake, (Bank Manager) Henry Thomas Snr. Harry Whittle, Frank Stocks, Ernie Eastall, and Bill Whittle Snr.

With an initial donation of 50 pound, by Mr McCauliffe a tar surface tennis court and a six-rink bowling green was established in an area, said by school children, to be a frog and tadpole pond. AW Pickett was appointed in charge of the Bowling Green construction and the first working bee was held in November of 1927  and saw many yards of railway cinders carted to the site. On the survey and title issued, the property was vested in trust comprising of Jerry McCauliffe, Ernie Eastall, Frank Stocks and Henry Thomas Sr.

History of The Penguin Bowls Club Inc.

The inaugural annual meeting of the Penguin Bowls Club was held on the 8th October 1928 with Jerry McCauliffe elected as President and Trevor Atkinson Secretary – Club Patron was the well known Penguin identity Jack Stubbs.

The greens were opened on the 15th December 1928 by the Warden W.G.Lade and among the two hundred people present were politicians in Senator Payne, Phil Kelly MHA. (Kaye Bellchamber’s father), The Hon. Frank Edwards, The Hon. Andrew Lillico and AG Ogilvie MHA. (Later to become Premier of Tasmania)

Bowls in this era were played with a wooden bowl on mats that were 6 feet long, and the initial Penguin president’s bowls are on display in this club.  The last Penguin Bowler to use wooden bowls was Aaron Nolen aged 93 arround 1964, when the smaller mat that we use today came into existence.

Bowls at the old Green in Arnold Street, Note: the old Tennis Court in the background.

The Penguin Bowls Club then known as the Bowling Club, affiliated with the NWTBA in 1928. The association at this time consisted of clubs from Latrobe, Mersey. Ulverstone, Burnie and Wynyard.

Penguins first ever competition was in the “Uncle Tobies Oats” Shield, Division Two.  The teams consisted of Three Rinks of Four Players with teams competing from Latrobe, Devonport, Ulverstone, Burnie 1 and 2, and Wynyard.  The first rostered match being played at Burnie. This game resulted in a thrashing for the Penguin Team, 133-30.

The very first team competition on the new Penguin Green was played between Penguin and Wynyard in the Uncle Tobies Oats Shield.
The result was as predicted, a sound win for Wynyard over the inexperienced Penguin. Winning by 39 shots.

Results of the first match at Penguin

Rink No 1: Thomas skip, Stocks, McKay, and Fulford. They lost to the Wynyard rink 38 to 13.
Rink No 2: A Whittle skip, Ling, Hensley and Bird. After a close encounter for most of the game in which the score was Pen. 19, Wyn. 22 on the 20th end, Wynyard ended up winning Pen. 22, Wyn. 31.
Rink. No 3: Eastall for Penguin had a tussle with the Wynyard rink of Dowling. Penguin rink of Eastall skip, Anderson, Casboult and Thorne, at the 10th the score was 9 all and then by the 20th end, Pen led by 20 to 13.  The Penguin players then maintained their advantage to win 22 to 17.

One of the first Grand Social occasions was the visit of Bowlers from the mainland who had been playing in the Australian Championships in Launceston. It was a grand time and most of the local members attended and they received valuable coaching from the more experienced visitors.

Penguin Pennant sides in the first instance competed in the “B” grade Coastal Pennant and well known dignitaries who participated for the Penguin Club were Jack Sims, A ‘Splinter” Revell, Ally Bird, and in the immediate post war years Jim Ray, Frank Duff, George Lancaster, Clarrie Hardstaff, and Jim Owens.

The first member of the Penguin Bowling Club to win a State Title was Ally Bird, (Father of Tom Bird), who won the “B” Grade Singles in 1935. He had one arm and was the Penguin Council’s Health Inspector.

In the 1945-46 season, a Penguin Four made up of Jack Hensley, A.O.Barker, George Lancaster and Jack Sims, won the Tasmanian “B. Grade” Fours Championship. This was the first Tasmanian Championship won by a combination representing the Club.  Not a lot is known on the performance of the Penguin Teams of this era, except the records show that Jack Sims, Jack Hensley, Jack Story, Ernie Eastall, Jim Ray, B Hardstaff, George Lancaster and A.O.Barker were very prominent in the Competitions.

In 1949 two additional rinks were sown down for the use of the increasing membership, which had now risen to a record 28 men. The additional greens were also provided for the newly formed associates of the club, an inaugural club comprising the North West Women’s Association, and Penguin competed in Pennant played in 1949/50 women’s bowling competition.

The inaugural President of the Association was Sadie Aram (previously deeply involved in the Tennis Club), and the Secretary Mrs Olive Wynwood. Other Inaugural Associate Members were Emmie Aitken, Lorna Spinks, Laura Lancaster, Mardie Bird, and many others who gave of their time and energies to raise funds and provide meals.

The small shed that was used as a Clubhouse at Arnold Street for Tennis and Bowls was demolished in 1950 and a new clubhouse with modern facilities, including a locker room was erected in concrete blocks made by the members.  This building, with the addition of a brick kitchen built in 1965 stood at the old site until the clubs transfer to the dial sports complex site in 1977.

In around 1966, the committee prepared a plan for a double story clubhouse at Arnold Street at a costing of $40,000.00 and Lou Stubbs was to be given the contract subject to finance being available, however when the committee met, the development was cancelled. Had it proceeded I doubt that we would have been playing bowls at the Dial Sports Complex today today.

1950/60 decade saw the Penguin bowls club enjoy a remarkable run of success in Coastal pennant Bowls, winning the “B’ grade pennants in

  • 1948/49
  • 1949/50
  • 1951/52
  • 1952/53
  • 1957/58
  • 1958/59
  • 1960/61

While “C” Grade pennant was won in 1950/51, it was not until the 1950/51 season that Penguin competed in “A” grade bowls and since that time the Club has been fortunate in having State Team representatives in Tom Eastall, Stan Hensley, Lou Roberts, Bill Whittle, Max Butler, Jack Conway, Hec Beswick, Curley Willcox, Barry Monson, Wayne Manson and Ricky Richardson.

With an increase in membership, both men and ladies a further two rinks were added to those existing in the late 1950’s. The Tennis club vacated the Arnold St site in 1965 in favour of new Tennis courts at Coroneagh Park.  A further four rinks were added, to provide 12 in all.
Early in the 1960’s The Tasmanian Bowls Council and the Tasmanian Women’s Bowls Association decided to dispense with Grades in favour of Divisions.  At the time, the Penguin Club proposed to the NWTBA, the final four concept, as pennant team winners in both Men’s and Ladies Bowls previous to this time were first past the post winners. Ironically the North and the South followed suite within a two-year period, after which a decision was made to introduce State Finals, as we know today. Penguin was also the instigator of introducing coloured disks that are used in competition today.

Early Champions

Penguin Club has produced some efficient bowlers over the years and without a doubt the clubs most competent Bowler was Tom Eastall, the first Tasmanian to win the Australian Open Singles title, winning at Moonee Ponds, Victoria in January 1967. The event no longer is open and today is the National Champion is Champion of State Champions.  3000 players competed in Eastall’s fixture.

Eastall played 99 State games as Skip. He won 14 Club, 7 NWTBA. and four State Singles Titles, 9 Club Pairs, 5 Club, NWTBA. and 1 State triples. 12 Club, 3 NWTBA. 4 State Fours, and the RSL. State singles on 8 occasions.

Other outstanding players include Jack Conway who skipped a State rink for 8 years and numerous State and State fixtures as well as the Australian Champion of Champion Fours in Western Australia 1987.

Hec Beswick in his decade with Penguin carved a name for himself and the Penguin Club, winning State fixtures and being named Bowler of the Year, then climaxing his period with the Club by winning the Australian Pairs at the Australian Games in Melbourne with Rex Garwood of Buckingham in 1983.

Junior Bowls

The Penguin Bowls Club in 1972/3 was the first on the Northwest Coast to accept junior membership, Wynyard being the other a short time later.

In 1973 Tim Robertson and Mike McKenna  at the age of 14 defeated the very able and experienced Wally Hunter and Jack Brown to win the “B” grade Pairs.  Since that time the club has enjoyed the presence of Juniors who are now making an impact on the Clubs future.

One instance that of Adam White, Danny Brown & Luke Richardson, along with other up and coming junior players coming through the ranks, participating in pennant competition.

The Move to a New Location

With the Development of the Dial Regional Sports Complex by the Penguin Council, a decision was made by the club, to participate in the complex by providing, on Council Leased land two eight rink greens on split levels, with reservation for two more greens, if and when required.

The two greens built within the complex cost $16,000, half of this being provided by the then Federal Government RED Scheme and a State grant and the balance borrowed from the Council. The Clubs property in Arnold St. was sold to the Education Dept. for $21,000 in 1977 .

November 1977, the then President of the Tasmanian Bowls Council and Australian Bowls Council, Mr Leigh Bishop BEM, opened the Clubs new greens and the Penguin Bowls Club after fifty years at Arnold Street established itself within the complex, sharing a common clubhouse with golfers, other sports and club members.

Before departing the Arnold St. green it should be noted that Div.1. won the 1969/70 coastal title, only to be defeated by one shot against Buckingham in the State final.  The ABC televised the match played at Burnie.

In 1972/3 Div.4 won the coastal pennant, while in 1975/6 Div.3. won the Clubs first State title.

Penguin Classic Pairs

Perhaps the most significant result of this as far as the Penguin Bowls Club is concerned was the introduction of the Roadways Classic Pairs, receiving sponsorship from Tasmanian Roadways for 35 years.  The prize money and awards for this event has varied over the years from $5000 to $8000 and draws players from all parts of Tasmania and interstate.  Bowls Australia ranks the event which carries points for the first four teams for the Australian Bowler of the year.

We saw  the use of our facilities for the running of the 5th International Test Series between Australia & New Zealand on the 24th to the 26th March 1983.  Apart from giving Tasmanians the opportunity to see some of the world’s best bowlers in action, the event gave the Penguin Club a prestige that was recognised nationwide.

Pennant Victory

The club’s first pennant at the new venue was in 1980 when Div.6 won the coastal title and since that time we have had the following results,

  • 1985/6 Div.1
  • 1987/88 Div. 3
  • 1989/90 Div.1
  • 1992/93 Div.1
  • 1993/94 Div. 3 & State
  • 1994/95 div.5 & State
  • 1999/2000 Div. 5
  • 2000/1 Midweek
  • 2001/02 Div.5.

Penguin Sports and Service Club

During 2005 the then Dial Regional Sports Club in association with the Penguin RSL. started renovations of the club buildings. This entailed the enlargement of the lounge area by triple, new toilets and doubling the size of the kitchen. There is a large patio overlooking the Bowls Green.
The complex took a new name and called itself The Penguin Sports and Services Club, and became the home of the RSL. (facts and figures supplied by John Lancaster)