Club History

Though other sports had earlier beginnings in the infant settlement of Levin, notably horse racing and rugby, Lawn Bowls had to wait a little longer. Still, it was very early in the growth of the town of Levin when the first steps were taken to establish the sport. The Horowhenua Rugby Union had been founded in 1893, there was an athletics club from 1895, and men’s and women’s hockey was played from 1906. The first town settlers had arrived less than two decades earlier in the late 1880’s, and the town still was still very much a pioneer community.

The Levin Borough came into existence on 1 April 1906 so the town was only eighteen months old when a meeting was held on 17 October 1907 to consider forming a bowling green. On that day 20 men gathered in stock firm Hudson and Easther’s rooms and decided to form a limited liability company which they named ‘The Levin Bowling Green Co. Ltd’. They appointed provisional directors – Messrs James Malcolm (chairman), D Smart, D S Papworth, P W Goldsmith, G Cameron, C Williams and Hudson. The secretary was J Craig.

The directors of the company were a diverse group. Little is recorded about Messrs Smart, Papworth and Cameron but the other directors were well known citizens. Chairman James Malcolm was a long serving county engineer who died in 1921. Thomas Hudson was an auctioneer, one of the partners of Hudson and Easther where the first meeting was convened. Philip Goldsmith was the first town clerk and later county clerk, power board clerk, borough councillor, lay preacher and Mayor of Levin 1932 – 1941.

In Anthony Dreaver’s 2006 centenary publication ‘Levin the Making of a Town’ ‘Charlie’ Williams is described as probably the most colourful of the directors. Williams had been a mining engineer on the goldfields of Coolgardie in Western Australia and on the West Coast, but in Levin he was a baker, storekeeper and publican at Weraroa. He was an unsuccessful candidate in the first mayoral election in 1906 but was later a councillor. He was a very keen rugby man and founder of the Weraroa Wanderers rugby club. When some became excited about the prospect of gold in the Tararua ranges he offered to lead a prospecting expedition into the hills. The offer was not taken up, though others later did a little fruitless prospecting.

One of the early members was G L (Leslie) Adkin who appears in the first winning team photo. Leslie Adkin was a pioneering dairy farmer on Queen Street East and self-taught scholar. He found time to explore the Tararua range, become an expert amateur geologist, cartographer, archaeologist and historian, and write the definitive book on the Māori place names of Horowhenua in 1948, as well as many scientific papers. Somehow he found time to play bowls.

It was not too long before the new company was able to buy a block of land for £130, or £150, (the records differ) on Weraroa Road from Mr J Ryder. A deposit of £5 was paid to secure the land, a further £20 on possession and an agreement was made to pay off the balance at 5% interest. The land was secured in December 1907 and the company bought jarrah, a hardwood timber from Western Australia, for the plinth boards needed to form the edging around the green in February 1908.

Little more is known about the early days of the bowling green company, or the club for that matter, as there are few surviving records from prior to 1921, so the history of the club can really only be written in detail from that date onwards.

… more to come soon