Penshurst Recreation Reserve History
The Penshurst Cricket and Recreation Reserve (or more commonly the football ground) was gazetted in 1871, but was certainly in use before that date.
The land now occupied by the Reserve was described on surveyor C. C. Horrel’s map of the Penshurst township as ‘rich undulating grassy land’. The land to the north was also described as rich grassy land, lightly timbered with banksias, eucalypts and lightwood. The land to the south was described as rich volcanic soil strewn with fragments of trap (basalt rock).
The southern boundary of the Aboriginal Protectorate Stations thirty acre (wheat) paddock bisected the site of the current netball courts. This paddock was enclosed by a three rail fence.
The first mention of sports in the area was made during a speech at the fifty year reunion of the Penshurst Racing Club. Dan O’Brien recalled that in 1862 informal horse racing was held near the present day Rec. Reserve which suggests that the area was reasonably level and clear.
When the rec. reserve was surveyed and the trustee’s appointed to manage it their first task was to fence the boundary, mark out a cricket oval, remove any surface rocks, plant pine trees and erect sheds including a booth. Once the boundary was fenced the reserve was leased out for grazing on a yearly basis – sheep only. This bought in a handy income for the trustees. As an example, in 1900 the income was ten pound twenty shillings. Grazing sheep also kept the area trimmed.
The Penshurst Football Club was formed in 1874 and from the very first it made the rec. reserve its home. As football was a winter game water logging of the ground was always a problem.
In 1876 a memorial (petition) was sent to the Council asking that a drain be cut on the eastern side of the cricket reserve to move the water on. In 1881 the local townsfolk didn’t consider that the trustees were doing a good job so a letter signed by James Madigan and forty-five residents requested that the Council take over trusteeship of the cricket and recreation reserve. After a meeting the letter was later withdrawn.
The following year the original Boxing Day Carnival, a sports meeting, was held at the reserve. This continued until 1889 when horse racing was included and the meeting shifted to the present day race-course.
In 1889 A.D.Looker (publican of the Cricketers Arms Hotel) wrote to Council requesting permission to discharge firearms in a pigeon shooting match to be held at the reserve. According to the gun club minutes an average of 110 birds were killed at a live bird shoot, mainly starlings or sparrows. Any future archaeologist doing a dig at the reserve would be bound to come across a layer of lead pellets.
In the same year Council drained, formed and metaled Larges Lane now known as Boundary Lane on the east side of the reserve. However the works that were undertaken didn’t resolve the water logging problems. The trustees had tried to drain the reserve by diverting water around the boundary on the east side but this was pooling and backing up onto the reserve. The solution was to re-drain through the reserve as requested in an 1895 letter to Council from Joseph Tilley, Secretary Trustees.
In 1899 the Trustees were H J Olle (Chairman), J Tilley (Secretary), R Barnes, D H Styles and T Madigan.
Ten years later the problems still hadn’t been resolved as James Madigan, Sec. Trustees writes to Council: Gentlemen, I have been requested by the Trustees of the cricket and recreation reserve to clean out and deepen drain on Caramut Road at north side of cricket reserve. We also wish to point out that waters from Avenue Road if turned down west side of Dunkeld Road it would greatly relieve that railway drain. At present this railway drain is overloaded and the flood waters back into the cricket ground. We are also asking railway department to attend to their drain in its locality.
In 1905 the trustees sent a letter to the cricket, gun and football clubs asking for twenty shillings each for the use of the rec reserve. These funds helped pay for the erection of a water closet (WC) and urinal. One wonders what spectators used before this.
In October 1909 the trustees put out a Tender for a post and rail fence to be erected around the oval – the final cost was twenty-one pound. The fence was erected just in time for the Pastoral and Agricultural Society to hold their first show, on Friday the 26th November, which became an annual event.
In the same year W. A. Kelly took over the grazing rights from Mr. A. Baulch and the cricket club undertook some improvements.
Improvements in 1919 included having the well cleaned out and the sides stoned. The following year the Agricultural Society was asked to pay a fee (for the first time) and all clubs were asked to pay toward the upkeep of the facilities.
In 1921 the football club was charged ten shillings per match and now that all clubs were being charged fees for the use of the reserve the trustees had an ongoing battle to collect the money.
At the June 1926 meeting the trustees received a letter from the football club asking for permission to use the ground – this was granted at the fee of two pound – and one pound for the previous years use. The trustee secretary was also instructed to approach the football club for the outstanding 1924 fee! Additionally the secretary was asked to approach the Croxton East Football Club for their 1924 fee and the show committee for their 1925 fee.
Also in 1927 the trustees met with delegates from the football club and Ag. Society to consider improvements to the reserve. They agreed to move the WC and urinal from the cattle yards site to the North West corner of the reserve; buy and pipe water from the railway yards and remove stones and fill in well.
By now the football club was being charged ten shillings sixpence for matches where a charge for entrance was made and W. A. Kelly was paying eight pounds for the grazing rights. An Athletic Club was also using the reserve.
At the February 1928 meeting the Trustees settled on buying water from the railways at two shillings and sixpence per one thousand gallons. In addition they paid one pound one shilling in license fees a year, against the cost of one hundred and nine pounds for a windmill and bore.
Two tenders were received for the laying of the gal pipe from the railway tank to the reserve – a distance of nine chains. Messer’s McNiece and Hatherall tendered thirty-one pound eighteen shillings; but S Cottrill’s tender of twenty-five pound eighteen shillings was accepted.
Also at the February meeting H. J. Olle resigned as chairman owing to his hearing being defective (not surprising as he had been chairman for the past twenty nine years – he’d heard it all!)
In 1929 the Football Club was charged five pounds which included some back fees. Mr. E. Davies was appointed caretaker at one pound per annum, perhaps he should have been appointed debt collector, for at the October meeting of the Trustees the Athletic and Football Clubs were given ten days to furnish their balance sheets for all matches held during the year or the Trustees threatened that Section 199 of the Land Act would be taken up (legal action).
Grazing lease funds for 1929 brought in seven pound twelve shillings.
The Trustee Secretary reported at the March 1930 meeting that no reply had been received from either the Athletic or Football clubs and no balance sheets had been forwarded. It looked like the clubs called the Trustees bluff but the Trustees didn’t hold a grudge as the Football Club was granted the use of the Reserve at the fee of three pounds – to be paid in advance.
The Trustee Secretary later reported that G. Collins, Football Club Secretary, had paid the three pounds. A. W. Kelly was again granted grazing rights at ten pounds per annum with no cattle or horses allowed.
In 1931 with the Great Depression raging the Football Club was being charged fifteen shillings per game – six games in advance. At the July meeting a letter was received from Hugh Lewis applying for the position of caretaker. Additionally a letter was received from the Football Club that cattle and horses be kept off the reserve grounds and the ground be improved if possible as they were very bad to play football on.
The Trustees replied that there was no money available to fix the ground but they would fix the gates to stop the cattle and horses from foraging. Hugh Lewis was appointed caretaker at twenty shillings per annum. Grazing rent had dropped to six pounds.
With the Depression ongoing the Football Club was charged ten shillings per match in 1932 – a fifty per cent reduction on last year’s rate. Mr. Kelly was asked to place a good number of sheep on the Reserve to eat the grass down as it was considered too long for the use of patrons.
The Trustees decided to place another lock on the door of the shed as the former lock had been smashed off by tramps (swagmen). I can still remember a swagman camping in the old Rotunda at the back of the Reserve in 1960 when I was a young boy.
During 1932 a cycling club asked permission to grade and level a track around the outside of the oval.
In 1933 fees were set at the previous year’s level but with times getting tougher the Football Club asked for a reduction of two shillings and sixpence per game. The Trustees said no.
Mr. Lewis was asked to cut back the limbs in Large’s corner (near the scoreboard). The pines that the Trustees planted back in the 1800’s were clearly doing well.
December 29, 2013
This page was last updated on the 8th January 2014