The Early Days
The Yarra Junction Bowling Club was founded in 1962. The first meeting, which was held on 2nd March 1962, was adjourned until 30th July when the inaugural president, Mr. Frank Davenport, was elected.
In October 1962 it was resolved to allow an initial sum of 500 pounds to construct a green, and over the next couple of years plans were prepared and permission was obtained from the Yarra Junction Recreation Reserve Committee for the necessary land to be allocated.
By 1965 progress was gathering pace. Construction of the green, nearly all of which was carried out by the members, was well advanced by September and Opening Day was set for 28th November 1965 at 1.30 pm.
At the A.G.M. in March 1965 annual subs. of six guineas for men and five guineas for ladies were set and it was decided that all financial members on 24th may would be named “Foundation Members”. Green fees were set at two shillings and six pence per member for Sunday mixed events. It was further decided that the initial rules would be based on Warburton B.C.’s rules.
With the green open the construction of a pavilion became a high priority. After visiting the other clubs in the area the Committee elected to base the design on Marysville’s pavilion with the addition of toilets at the west end of the building.
By March 1966 plans for the pavilion were approved and construction proceeded throughout the year. Once again most, if not all, of the work was undertaken using the skills and time of the members. It was estimated that the cost of construction materials (excluding internal linings) was $2420. The Official Opening Day of the club was set for the last Saturday in November 1966.
By this time the formation of the Yarra Valley Bowling Association was being planned and when it was established on 30th June 1967 Yarra Junction was one of the inaugural members along with Warburton , Healesville, Marysville and Yarra Glen. The first pennant series began on 7th October 1967 with Yarra Junction hosting two home games to begin the season.
The Club Grows
By the 1971-72 season Yarra Junction Bowling Club fielded three pennant sides (twelve players per side), and by 1980 there were 54 full members. It was time to plan for expansion of the pavilion and playing surfaces.
By mid 1981 quotes and permits had been obtained, and finance arranged, for a substantial extension to the pavilion. Work started at a cost of $35,000, and the extension comprised of a store room, bar servery and bar on the west end of the existing building, and a ladies room, office and kitchen on the north side. This provided the floor plan that exists today.
A second green had been planned for some years and agreement for the provision of the necessary land was reached with the Yarra Junction Recreation Reserve Committee in February 1977. It wasn’t until May 1984 that permits were obtained for the new green and $5,000 was allocated for the preparatory works. Major works were completed by June 1985 and the green was opened on 1st. December.
Club membership peaked at just under 80 in May 1987 but settled back to about 65 where it remained until the mid 1990s.
Yarra Junction Ladies Bowling Club
The Ladies Bowling Club was a separate entity within Yarra Junction Bowling Club, with it’s own committee and constitution, and remained so until June 2011 when the ladies and men’s committees combined forces.
The first meeting of YJLBC was held on 26th July 1965 and Mrs Ladlow was elected foundation president. The club quickly grew in numbers and soon fielded three pennant sides (ladies pennant was played on weekdays and gentlemen’s on Saturdays.
Aside from their on field achievements the Ladies Club handled all the catering for the YJBC. They arranged social events and supported the development of the club financially whenever possible.
Over the years Yarra junction Bowling Club has produced many fine lawn bowlers but surely the most outstanding was Joy Britton who won 28 ladies club championships between 1967/68 and 2004/05, and gathered a very impressive array of awards at State level.
More recent times
As membership numbers decreased the high maintenance costs rendered the second green impractical and it fell into disuse, and the original grass green was replaced with a synthetic surface.
In 2010 the Yarra Valley Bowls Association was disbanded and the member clubs moved into the eastern region of the Bowls Victoria Metro Pennant Competition.
Like many other sporting clubs at this time Yarra Junction Bowling Club became ensnared in a downward spiral of diminishing membership, reducing receipts and deteriorating facilities. This decline was broken by the hard work of Peter and Myrna Willis who over a period of years put in place grants from The Victorian Government, Yarra Ranges Shire and Bendigo Bank, to provide a new synthetic green, new lighting and upgraded shaded seating on the south side of the green.
Membership numbers are now increasing and there is a feeling of optimism around the club.
The story continues.