Here we have the festering remains of the St. George Bowling Club. Like many of its members, the bowling club came into existence in 1900, when a meeting at the Rockdale Town Hall ended with a decision to form a bowling club. I wonder how many town hall meetings end like that these days? For that matter, I wonder how many town hall meetings actually start these days?
Feathers were ruffled in 1919 when the land the bowling club was built on was suddenly and urgently required by New South Wales Government Railways to enable quadruplication of the railway lines by that project’s estimated completion date of 2030. The club was moved, and seemed to land closer to the jack here on Harrow Road.
In an apparent passive-aggressive display of entrenchment, the little street beside the club is named Bowlers Avenue. Doesn’t it look silly today. Bowlers Avenue sounds more like a memorial garden in a cemetery.
While the building is a rare example of a Federation era bowling club, it’s also been abandoned for several years. Unfriendly signs threaten would-be bowlers to stay the hell out, and many of the building’s windows have been boarded up.
No one is picking up the sport of lawn bowls these days, and as the current superstars of the game fade away, there really is no need for these clubs. This one didn’t even have a TAB. And after all, it’s not like this is an isolated incident. Unless there’s some big recruitment drive for new members sometime soon, the game will end up with most of its players on that big Bowlers Ave in the sky.
In 1886, British migrant George Marchant purchased a Brisbane ginger beer manufacturing plant. By 1890, Marchants was the largest soft drink business in Australia, with a product range including hop beer, soft drinks and cordial, and with plants in Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Newcastle and Sydney. Oh, and Bexley.
Let’s not beat around the bush – the building looks old. The Bexley depot of the Marchants soft drink empire may be a panel beater now, but it’s clear to see how it would have been back then. It looks like a horse and cart might explode from behind that door at any second in a frenzied rush to deliver kegs of creaming soda, just like in the olden days.
George Marchant was known for his strong belief in social equality, and women workers in his factories earned more than the average female wage in the food industry at the time. When the soft drink company’s registration was abandoned in 1917, the brand name was sold off and kicked around for decades between Pepsi, Shelleys, and ultimately Coca-Cola, which owns the brand today. Marchant himself died in 1941, by which time this site was long since out of the soft drink business. Hmm…I’m thirsty.