Queensland’s oldest affiliated club
We take a brief look at the history of Doon Villa Bowls Club. Lawn bowling was first introduced into Maryborough by a Scottish immigrant named James Fairlie during the 1870s after he installed two rinks behind his home on the south-western corner of Queen Street and March Street.
Bowls became popular with the people of Maryborough and the sport was soon played every Saturday as well as public holidays. Fairlie used his Ligina Wita wooden Bowls which he had obtained from Glasgow based manufacturer Thomas Taylor.
It was only a few years later when another Scottish national, Andrew Heron Wilson decided to build a two-rink bowling green at his home too.
His house named “Doon Villa” was situated at 335 Lennox Street, on the northern bank of the Mary River about one mile from the township centre and offered commanding views of Maryborough. The name Doon Villa means River Villa in Scotch.
It was customary for Wilson to invite his friends to join him in games and it generated much interest at the time. So much so, that players decided to form an official club and name it the Doon Villa Bowling Club.
Wilson was patron, president and supporter of many societies in the Maryborough sporting sphere. He was also captain of the first cricket club formed in Maryborough and was the patron of a number of football clubs and cricket clubs.
On December, 8 in 1893 the Doon Villa Bowls Club was inaugurated with the Honorable A. Heron Wilson becoming the club’s first president.
The bowling green was saved for special use of gentlemen players of Maryborough, who met at intervals for a friendly game of bowls. Many an exciting game was played on the green to the delight of not only themselves but the spectators as well.
Among those who honoured the establishment with their presence were Sir Henry and Lady Norma Lamington (one time Governor of Queensland).
On the July, 5 in 1900 the Governor of Queensland Lord Lamington visited Maryborough and found time to indulge in a game of pairs on the Doon Villa green.
His Excellency teamed up with Wilson against G. Stupart and John Young and the game finished in favour of Lord Lamington and Wilson by six points.
Doon Villa’s membership base grew and by 1905 consisted of 30 members. Under Wilson’s auspices and with the assistance of expensive gardeners “Doon Villa” became one of the prettiest and most elegant Homesteads in Queensland.
In 1906, Mr Wilson passed away and the club was granted lease of the green but within a few years, the maintenance of the site became too expensive to sustain with the fees from the small membership base.
The club decided to relocate from there to the Orcadia green located on the corner of Kent and Prospect street which was situated beside the home of John Young.
In 1911 the club decided to look for a new location once again and located the new Doon Villa green where the club currently resides.
A 1,000-gallon tank and pipes had been installed in readiness for the move, although funds were once again getting low and it was therefore decided to increase the annual subscription to £3.30 a year per member with an entrance fee of £2.26.
When the club moved from Prospect Street to Lennox Street in September 1915, the new site consisted of a clubhouse with an eight-rink grass green.
The club remained in use until 1975 when a fire destroyed the clubhouse and a new clubhouse with pavilion was built in its current location in 1977.
At this time a second grass green was introduced to cater for the growing numbers of bowlers.
Doon Villa Bowls Club consisted of a Men’s club and Ladies Associates which later became a Men’s club and a Ladies’ club, which operate as separate entities from the same clubhouse.
In 1996, the two clubs amalgamated and now operates under a board of management with a Men’s section and a Ladies’ section and were incorporated in the same year.
In 2007, the Doon Villa Bowls Club decided to install a carpet surface and the second green at Doon Villa Bowls Club was then changed to a carpet surface in 2014.
“It’s great to be a part of a club with such a long history behind it and there’s a great camaraderie between all our members,” Doon Villa chairman Wayne Raguse said.
“I hope the club will still be here in another 125 years.”
On December, 8 this year the Doon Villa Bowls Club will celebrate its 125th Anniversary and as such is the oldest affiliated Bowls Club in the State of Queensland.