About Semaphore Bowls Club


In 1903, Mr T. O. Sobels conceived the idea of forming a bowling club on the western side of the Port River. John Yeo, to whom he mentioned his plans, took up the matter wholeheartedly and the two men started the formation of the Semaphore Bowling Club.

Following the interest also shown by a group of gentlemen in 1904, a meeting was held in the Jagoe St. Hall Semaphore to discuss the forming of a new Bowling Club, and join the four other clubs in the newly formed SABA.

At this stage the only other clubs were Adelaide, Adelaide Oval, East Torrens and Port Adelaide, although Glenelg, Sturt and Hindmarsh also joined later that year.

The meeting approved the formation of our club and the expected cost of laying a green was £120,($240). After further meetings at the old Semaphore Town Hall and the Federal Hotel, it was decided that a site on the Largs Reserve was preferred, so a lease was obtained from the Port Adelaide City Council with the peppercorn annual rental of £1.  The Port Adelaide Bowling Club assisted with information and allowed our Club to use their green  for the 1904/05 season, Thus our first Opening Day was held at Port Adelaide.

By Opening Day on 8th April 1905, a wood and iron Clubhouse with a four rink green all surrounded by substantial fencing had been established and with Club membership at 58, further plans in place for the laying of another three rinks, making Semaphore the largest green in the State.

With the club continuing to thrive, 1906 saw the New Zealand Team playing a match at Semaphore against a combined team from Semaphore, Port Adelaide and Hindmarsh, (won by NZ). Semaphore also hosted the MCC Touring Team for a match at Semaphore in April 1909 followed by a dinner at the Jagoe St. Hall Semaphore. In 1911 a four rink team from Semaphore, along with several ladies, toured Victoria and played teams from St. Kilda and Auburn Heights Bowling Clubs.

At the AGM in June 1907 a member suggested that ladies should be allowed to join the Club maybe as Croquet Players but the other members were averse to the idea, however by 1910 a croquet lawn was laid for the ladies to play croquet, apart from the club. It was not until 1952 that ladies were to form their own section in the Bowling Club.

Throughout the following years, Semaphore remained a force in Lawn Bowling winning many Pennants both in the top and lower Divisions and at State level, with E.B. Bednall and the Club fours team of E.A. Malin, H.B. Horton, C. Anderson and V. Pedler  winning the Champion of Champions singles and fours respectively in 1911. Brothers R Bower and C. Bower were selected in the State Team to play in Victoria in 1926. Semaphore player O.A. Syms won the State Singles in 1928/29 and 1937/38 and Champion of Champions singles 1936/37. Semaphore won the State Fours in 1930/31 and 1937/38. In more recent times, Semaphore has been successful in the Champion of Champions State pairs with Kevin Pryor and Remo Bianchini in 2002, followed by Mick Collins and Zane Cini in 2011.

During WW2 the Club was used extensively for fund raising for many different patriotic causes such as Red Cross, Mission for Seamen, Navy Union Appeal, and other aid funds. After the war the club continued to prosper both financially and competitively, with membership exceeding 150 full members and the rebuilding of the clubhouse to what it is today.

By Andrew Farmer