A Brief History of the Rangiora Croquet Club
Thanks to Mark OʻConnell and Leith Newell for their help with this section. Images courtesy of the Rangiora Museum.
Croquet was being played in the Rangiora region on homestead lawns from the 1890s. By the early 1900s, croquet and bowls were being played informally on the Anglican vicarage lawn in Rangiora. However with the need for more space, in 1904 the Bowling Club approached the Rangiora Borough Council wishing to play bowls on a newly acquired piece of land known as Victoria Square (now Victoria Park). When the Council refused this request at a meeting on April 22nd, the Bowling Club invited the Croquet and Tennis clubs to join them on the search for some private land they could play on. On the 16th May 1904, a meeting was held to form the Rangiora Bowling, Croquet and Tennis Club, where the club colours were set as green and gold.
By early 1905, 1&1/4 acres were purchased on the corner of Blackett Street and what was to become Good Street. Between May 1905 and the opening on December 16th 1905, work was carried out to create 5 croquet lawns, 8 bowling rinks and 3 tennis courts.
Official Opening Dec 16th 1905
The first Club President was Mr J. Josling, a gardener, and he reported in 1909 that, "the Club is of a highly satisfactory character. The first grade team maintained their reputation of an unbeaten record having met all the leading clubs and players in Canterbury". In 1911 a new large 2-storey pavilion was opened at a cost of 945 pounds. Croquet occupied the upper storey with balconies on two sides.
(left) Early Club players 1904. Mr Josling is in the front row.
The Club has regularly entered teams in the Christchurch competitions and played socially against other local teams from throughout the district. Opening day for 1929/30 saw 12 clubs invited to play including; Cust, Oxford, Southbrook and Kaiapoi. There were also tournaments against Waiau, Rotherham, Cheviot, Woodend and Amberley. There were also games against clubs as far away as Blenheim and Methven.
(right) Winners of the Canterbury Croquet Associationʻs Junior A Flag - 1932
In 1971 the Bowling Club took over ownership of the Good Street site (the Tennis Club had already moved completely to King Street) and the Croquet Cub's relationship changed from being part owner to tenant. The Croquet Club first approached the Rangiora Borough Council in 1976 with the hope of relocating to a publicly owned sports ground. Over the years, many different sites were suggested but came to nothing.
The quest became more urgent in 2000 when the Bowling Club advised that they would require the croquet lawns for an all weather green and croquet would have to vacate by January 2005. Croquet was able to celebrate its Centenary in January 2004 before going into recess the following month, still searching for a new home.
Hopes were raised in 2010 when the Waimakariri District Council offered a grant of $100,000 to develop new lawns, and several sites were suggested. Nothing was found until 2012 when the River Road site was again suggested, with the proviso of shared clubrooms with the Rangiora Table Bowls Club. Turning the first sod was celebrated in October 2013 after agreements were completed with both the Waimakariri District Council and Table Bowls.
A $50 000 grant from the Waimakariri District Council enabled the development of the grounds under the supervision of Peter Parkinson. This entailed levelling, topdressing and then grassing an area sufficient for two full sized lawns, with the option of a further two lawns when finances permit. Fundraising now began in earnest to cover our share of the Clubhouse and many hours of voluntary work ensued. Finally on the 21st of November 2015, over 100 people - friends, members and representatives of other clubs celebrated Opening Day with 28 people indicating they were keen to learn to play.
Since then, with much voluntary work and grants from various sources, paths have been laid and the Clubhouse interior completed in time for Opening Day 2017. The Club has gone from strength to strength with many new members enjoying the relaxed social atmosphere of the club and the excellent lawns. All this means Croquet is alive and well in Rangiora.
(right) Long time member Audrey Burnett runs the first hoop, Opening Day 2016