St John’s Bowls Club will close next month. Uncertainty caused membership to dwindle, said secretary Doug Haynes.
Nanjing Night Net

ST John’s Bowls Club will wind up at the end of April signalling the end of an era for the 86-year-old club.

The Princess Street club, believed to be the last church bowling club in Australia, voted to voluntarily wind up earlier this week.

The Warrnambool Presbyterian Church owns the site and could not guarantee its use for another 12 months.

The club was founded in 1926 and has been at the Princess Street site since 1956.

Up until the decision, the club was the only grass bowling green in the Warrnambool district used for pennant games.

Club president Robert Prout jokingly said he’ll now be known as the president who sank the club.

“It was a reluctant but an inevitable decision,” he said.

“We knew it would happen one day.

“I’ve been part of the club for eight to 10 years. It’s a very friendly club, we all get on well but it’s time to move on.

“The church own the land and have another use planned for it. We’re a small club and it’s difficult to attract players.

“We have three members that are in their 90s and a few in their 80s as well.

“I guess for bigger clubs it’s easier to attract younger members. They offer barefoot bowls and we need to rest the grass.” Club secretary Doug Haynes said there had been uncertainty about the club’s future for a number of years.

“There has been uncertainty and as a result membership dwindled,” he said.

“It was a reluctant decision.

“The church couldn’t guarantee use of the site and it’s time to move on. It was a reluctant decision but one that everyone made.

“As far as we know it’s the last church bowls club.”

The club, which has 45 members, will officially wind up on April 30.

Spokesman for the church Lindsay Ferguson said the church was looking at its options and plans were under way to develop the facilities.

“We’re working with an architect and talking to our members on what we might do,” he said.

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