Originally named as the Waitemata Bowling Club and founded by Mr John Court in 1899, Northcote Bowling Club is now the oldest functioning Lawn Bowls Club on the North Shore.

John Court had department stores in Queen Street, his brother George (and Frederick in the early stages) owned the still recognisable building in Karangahape Road (together with other stores).

Acknowledged as an astute businessman, philanthropic, visionary, and a great believer in the future of Auckland, he established the Waitemata Bowling Club in Princes Street, Northcote Point, right behind the Northcote Tavern.

It is this writers opinion that we should have remained there to this day... for the view of course, not the pub.

Remember that in 1899 the North Shore had communities in isolated pockets and back then there was no such thing as a roading network, at least not as we know it now.

Birkenhead, Takapuna, Milford, Devonport, etc. although close to Northcote Point, getting there was more of a journey than just a 10 or 15 minute drive.

(John Court also established the West End Bowling Club in Hamilton Road, Herne Bay in 1910.

He did so after a fall out with the Ponsonby Bowling Club around the corner in Jervois Road.

There is a strong connection between our Club and West End Bowling Club.)

Back to Waitemata Bowling and Croquet Club..... 

We remained at Princes Street until 1903, but after a 10 year lease on a parcel of land in Little Shoal Bay was signed with the Northcote/ Birkenhead Gas Company, we made the first move closer to our permanent home.

This made the Waitemata Bowling Club more accessible to a greater population living in the Birkenhead area, and at that time it was easier for them to get down to Little Shoal Bay, than to travel to Northcote Point.

The Green was used for Bowling by the men.... and Croquet mainly for their wives... providing they applied for, and got, permission from the Bowling Executive to become members of said Croquet Club.

This inspired the first name change in 1912, and Waitemata Bowling Club became the "Waitemata Bowling and Croquet Club".

In 1913, the Northcote / Birkenhead Gas Company terminated the lease we held with them, as they required the land for business purposes.

They instead offered our Club a parcel of land about 100 metres further inland, to purchase outright.

The land was offered for £100. The whole deal however, cost an additional £450 which the Club raised as a mortgage. The extra expense covered ground works, purchasing a right of way to Church Street, building a Clubhouse etc.. (that amount equals $1100).

On Saturday, October 24 1914, Waitemata Bowling and Croquet Club officially opened, and commenced playing on its own property.

The ensuing years were pretty much business as usual for the Club.

However, 1928 to 1935 proved to be a difficult period, as money problems became a constant irritant for the Executive.

In 1929, there was a significant development at the club that proved to influence bowls within our region for many years.

A meeting of all Northcote members was called to discuss playing on a Sunday.

It was agreed that play should be allowed from 2pm, with the committee having the discretion to decide on all day Sunday events.

Club members would pay a green fee of sixpence, and visitors, a shilling.

It is doubtful that there were too many 2pm starts back then, as the all day tournaments really took off and attracted bowlers from all over Auckland.

The ferry service to Birkenhead wharf was a huge bonus.

The late 30's and early 40's saw a return of some vigour for the club.

In 1939 we got electricity. 

An electric mower was purchased to maintain the green, and the Clubhouse got lights.

Buying the mower was probably quite a visionary decision, given that petrol rationing was just around the corner because of World War 2.

A radio was purchased, allowing members to keep up with the events around the war, and in 1940, we got a telephone!

The season of 1949/1950 marked our Golden Jubilee.

The Club President, Mr H.W. Tyer announced plans for major club extensions. He reported that the Club was negotiating to purchase another acre of land further up the hill towards Church Street, that a new green would be developed up there and relocation of the Clubhouse to a more strategic position would occur within the new, larger complex.

The executive also cleared the way for funding by settling out the mortgage that had been raised back in 1915.

One can only imagine that such developments would have created excitement within the community, and a good deal of pride within the Club itself.

It is more likely that these announcements made in the jubilee year, shaped the direction of the Waitemata Bowling and Croquet Club well into the 21st century.

Those decisions, and in particular the resulting outcomes will start the second part of our Club History on the link above.... "Club History- More Recent Times".