It all started when Mr W L Thompson, a local construction contractor, proposed that the people of Johnsonville form a Bowling Club. A public meeting at the Rechabite Hall on 6 February 1908 was attended by 23 locals, including names such as Dr Robertson, Rev Vosper, and Messrs Cunliffe, Morgan Jerusalem, Rutter, Mills and Bould. Mr Thompson was elected the first President and he came to be a major financial supporter and driver of development until he retired to New Plymouth in 1924.
Four days after the meeting the club purchased land in Brandon St which is now part of the Johnsonville Mall. All work around the club was voluntary and Mr Thompson did much of it. He also planned and built the first pavilion, and by 1917 when Wellington hosted the National Bowling Championships, Johnsonville greens were the subject of many favourable comments from visiting bowlers. The caretaker was paid an extra four guineas for the extra work he had done.
In 1919 the club purchased a billiard table for ninety-six pounds six shillings and sixpence funded by Mr Thompson. To raise funds “Billiard Members” were admitted for five shillings per year. In 1954, the thirty-five year saga ended with the sale of the table, and the proceeds used to purchase an honours board. The same honours board still has pride of place in the club today.
Club funding figured prominently over the next thirty years. Membership dropped dramatically during the depression and subscriptions had to be reduced to two guineas. When town water supply became available, the club demolished its windmill pump to save maintenance costs. In 1947 the club changed from a limited liability company to an incorporated society and in 1948 the club was in a position to extend the pavilion at a cost of six hundred pounds.
THE BIG SHIFT: In 1963 an alternative site was sought to accommodate a larger clubhouse and second green. The council offered a site at the southern end of Alex Moore Park but this was rejected as being unsuitable for bowls. Club members Alby and Marion Large offered their property in Frankmoore Ave for fourteen thousand pounds. The original property was sold for twenty thousand pounds.