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Gawler Club Inc

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Fast Facts
Type of organisation: Sporting
Street number: Basement of the Gawler Town Hall


Date established: 1873


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Please click here to see photos of Gawler Club.

The Gawler Club has (temporarily) moved from the Gawler Institute /Town Hall for the first time in its 143 year history , with its major historic asset , the Billiard table given the best of care during its historic move.

The Gawler Club was founded on February 22, 1873 for professional and business men , Mr. Geo Palmer, manager of the Gawler branch of the National Bank was the instigator, and had 34 members at that time.

The Club purchased the full size billiard table 12 foot by 6 foot (model Squatters Favorite) in the early years of the club and was manufactured in Melbourne by Alcock & Co which started business in 1853 by Henry Upton Alcock. Table number is 788 which is one of the lowest on record at Alcock’s.

Alcock had an agent in South Australia at the time the club purchased the table and the agent was Fred Lindrum, the great Walter Lindrums grandfather. The Lindrum story is fascinating and unique over the generations, Fred Lindrum was one of our greatest winemaking pioneers and in 1873 was awarded Australia’s first international gold medal for wine at the London international exhibition of fine arts, which happened to be the same year the Gawler Club was founded. Fred Lindrum became Australia’s first professional billiards champion.

The Gawler Club’s Alcock table is made out of Blackwood and has very rare cushion rails where the timber is fiddleback, which means the timber is cut across the grain and not along the grain. In later years the club purchased a small table so the club could compete against clubs in Adelaide.

The Gawler Club has always been based in the Town Hall / Institute precinct since 1873 until the club temporarily relocated on 16 January 2017 with the council now renovating the two buildings into the our districts spectacular Gawler Civic Centre and will move back to its historic home in the basement of the Town Hall in late 2018 when the project is finished.

The Gawler Club is now presently relocated at the Elderly Centre in Gawler South. In 1985, the Club was shuffled out of the back of the Institute building to the basement of the Town Hall, due to the library expansion into the rooms that had housed the club for many years.

The club will be restoring the tables to their former glory before the club moves back to the town hall in 2018 at a major expense to the club.

How the club was moved: - On Wednesday 11 January 2017 the honor boards, score boards, cue racks etc were removed from the walls for transport. On Sunday 15 January 2017 the boards and all of the clubs belongings were moved to the Elderly Centre. On Monday 16 January 2017 the tables were pulled apart and moved by Cue power billiards. The large table slate is in 4 pieces which makes it easier to move; the small table is one piece and was a challenge to take up the old slate steps in the town hall basement. On Wednesday 25 January the honor boards were placed on the walls. On Thursday 2 February the table lights were moved from the town hall and placed over the tables in the new clubroom. Many thanks to the members involved.

The Gawler Club has had many high profile members over its history, James Martin was an early member, and it has been stated that the town hall would not have been built but for the kind donation of James Martin. Many business owners and professions over the years have been members, too many to mention. Although in the early years only men were able to join and had to own a business or be of professional status. Later years the club was open to any male that was accepted by the club. In 2014 the club accepted the membership of two ladies and the club has also set up a junior development program, many juniors have parents that are members. Junior’s now have tournaments each year and honor boards displayed in the clubroom.

The greatest billiard player ever, Walter Lindrum entertained the Gawler Club members on 22nd December 1926. At that time he held the world’s highest break of 1417 but in 1932 he had an amazing break of 4137 against Joe Davies in London. His record still stands today; in fact they changed the rules to try to stop him. Lindrum has been called the “Bradman of billiards” although there was far greater inequality between Lindrum and his opponents than there was between Bradman and his. Walter Lindrum was recognized as the fastest scorer in the professional ranks. Lindrum was the master of the nursery cannons.

Walter Lindrum gave an exhibition game and a display of fancy shots on the table. To make the exhibition more interesting Mr. F.E. Barkla consented to be his opponent. In an hour Lindrum scored 1125 against Barkla’s 98. Apparently members were amazed at his control of the “ivories “and were astounding as he played with ease that almost reduced the game to an absurdity. The Gawler Club has many historic artifacts , included are a Walter Lindrum 4137 cue and the cue used by Barkla in the match against Lindrum, a very old original Alcock cue. Many original accessories that would have been purchased with the table. Many old bentwood chairs that date back to the 1800’s.

The club holds tournaments each year and the winners and runners up are still placed on the honor boards, one board dates back to the very early 1900’s. It is evident on the tournament boards where years are missing due to the two world wars and depression years. The Gawler Club has been going for over 140 years and will continue for many years to come.

- Thank you Paul Barnet for your account of this historical move. -



Extracts from Journals, books and publications pertaining to the Historical Gawler Club established in February 1873 and resided in the basement of the Gawler Institute.


The Bunyip , February 22, 1873

The Gawler Club. A number of Gentlemen of Gawler and its Suburbs have recently formed a private Club and engaged the underground apartments of the Gawler Institute for the accommodation of its members , the club being conducted on the plan of those in Adelaide. Much discontent appears to have arisen on account of the Institute having been allowed to furnish appartments for such purposes. Considered by cautious and reflective people as being at variance with the design of the Literary and Scholastic establishments known as Institutes

The Bunyip, Saturday April 26, 1873

Gawler Institute General Half Yearly Meeting Your Committee have, since the completions of the building, been most zealous to find, tenants for the lower rooms, that would enable them to have the rooms plastered, ceiled, and floored. This has now been done in the large room, under the reading-room, and the room adjoining having been finished with doors and fittings complete, at a cost of £67 7s, and let to the Gawler Club, at a yearly rental of £35, payable in advance, the first, year's rent of which has been paid, which terms we consider highly advantageous ; and although rented by a private Club, and in no way connected with the Institute, we are of opinion it will prove a means of providing wholesome recreation to the members of the Club, and be beneficial to the Institute.

The Bunyip, Saturday May 17, 1873

OF CLUBS. . . In a small community such as that of Gawler it is impossible for any association of an exclusive character to exist without giving rise to a feeling of offence. This was the case with an attempt some years ago -at an exclusive ball, and still more recently. Indeed, anything repellant is obnoxious to the taste of “a free born Englishman” who has no idea of tolerating anything but free institutions, and feels even a proneness to rebel when he reads such needful announcements as 'no admission except on business !' Strong, however, as this English tendency to resent anything repulsive may be, it can have no more legitimate or rational ground or right to quarrel with a private and exclusionary association of harmless citizens than it has to denounce a Freemasons' Lodge, a Lodge of Odd- fellows, or any other associated Friendly Society. Unfortunately, however, the newly formed Gawler Club commenced its career by colliding somewhat -with a pre-existing institution established for purposes considered to be widely different from those contemplated by what Jo'mson defines as “an assembly of good Yellows “and hence the Gawler people claim or rather assume a right to comment upon and protest against an infringement which not a few contemplate as having also a ‘contra bonos mores’ tendency. It may be true that no such convention as this Club was contemplated in founding the Institute, neither is it specified in the trust deed that this or that description of “diverting vagabond” shall tenant its hall for the purpose of conjuring money out of our purses, or that it shall be let for sectarian purposes, or for circulating Miss Braddon's vicious and corrupting literary trash. The case stands thus!. The cellars of the building were constructed, like the Hall, in the prospect of their contributing to the maintenance of the Institute generally, but if we listen to objections advanced against peculiar applications of them, limited-will their usefulness, and small the revenue derivable therefrom for the general purposes of the Institute. Teetotallers might object to its cellars being let for bonding vinous importations, or for the Horticultural Society sampling their wines and brandies therein. Stiff- backed churchmen might protest against any sect of dissent making pious use of its Hall, and rigid moralists who object to any semblance of dramatic entertain ment might make such a stand against the Muses that, neither Thalia nor Mel p -ir.e le would dare again to grace its platform, the charmer might no more be heard ' charm he never so wisely,' nor would even a Saint be ever again seen picturing to us what human life was “ Fifty years ago”. The Trustees and Committee of the Institute are peculiarly circumstanced. They have to contend with the principal and interest a debt of &1800, and when they are offered some £40 a year the simple accommodation of a respectable club it, is a question of whether the managers of the Institute would be justified in rejecting such an augenentation of their income. Such a Club is no way likely to commit itself -by any breach of good morals, though some of the correspondents wish us to believe otherwise. The moving principle of such Clubs is a preference for select, in lieu of promiscuous association, and indiscriminate social intercourse; a right, as sacred all that which privileges men to unite with such Friendly Society or 'such religious body as they may specially prefer, and such; Clubs usually compose themselves of individuals who have little inclination for miscellaneous associations, who have., some, special reasons for holding aloof or a special preference for limited society and select acquaintance, and we have no more right to challenge such preferential associations, than to dictate to their members where they shall buy their groceries or what shall be the colour of their coats. Neither have we anything whatever to do with their internal economy so long as it is carried out free from public offence. When, however, its arrangements lead to a gross insult of public men of perfectly 'unobjectionable character and who have earned the esteem of the community, it is ' impossible but that a small community like ours should feel itself wronged by such, treatment of its representative men. In addition to the exceedingly objectionable case of exclusion commented upon ' in our columns last 'week, 'we now hear with regret of another ' which 'we could hardly have anticipated. We have had - occasion heretofore to differ from the gentleman referred to on public matters, and we have indulged in some descriptive pleasantry , at his expense, but, we should be very sorry to have, it supposed that we allowed occasional differences of the kind to affect our candour or bias our judgement on o*her matters, and we therefore repeat, that it has been with surprise that we have heard of the rejection by our embryo Club of the eldest son of a respectable resident -member of Parliament (to whom this quarter is greatly indebted for its improved roads), who has been a warm supporter of the Institute, and who has served the town as one of its most active Councillors, year after year, for four successive years, and whose calling in life is as important to the community as that of miller, malster, or any other reputable pursuit. It is of little avail that the majority of the members of such Clubs assure us that the balls they employed were those of friendly white. If they, in a Club of 50, submit to such a silly arrangement as allowing a minority of any 5 to overrule ' the good will of the 45 ', they must be content to share in the Ob’oquy which their preposterous and ridiculous game ‘ at fives ' may give rise to. If candidates were admitted only on polling a majority of say two-thirds or three-fourths in their favour, there would be some rationality in the arrangement. Disappointed movers and seconders of their friends are apt to feel themselves as also blackballed a little, and to reciprocate such' civilities as these assassin-like stabs in the dark, which have in hundreds of cases proved the ‘ne plus ultra’ of clubs, as our lively and piquant contributor Mary Jaoe has predicted will be the case of the one under our review, which will be wise in revising its plan instead of persevering in the stupid and annoying practice of ceding all power to a mischief-making minority. With regard to the 'previous question’, the public has no more right to cavil at the formation of such a club, than it has to interfere with formation of an athletic or a cricket club ; but any private club in carrying on its operations may become publicly objectionable, especially when ifs most prominent operations are calculated to defame the official servants and benefactors of the public. The blackballers in the present case lost sight of the fact that they were simultaneously reflecting on the judgement and prudence of the Agricultural Society, the members of the Institute, and the ratepayers of Gawler.


Friday April 28, 1876 THE OPEN COLUMN. GAWLER CLUB. * TO THE EDITOR Sir — The Bunyip has from time to time contained letters reflecting' on the above Club, and censuring the Institute for letting rooms to this institution. I think the Club, as a perfectly private affair , is justified in not taking any notice of the said productions; but when letter after letter is allowed without contradiction to retail uncharitable and unfounded insinuations, and the Institute is unreasonably made responsible for imaginary abuses, it may suffer in the opinion of the public, which certainly would be a pity. About three years ago the Club was started for the purpose of providing a place of recreation, amusements, and comfort, especially to young men. The rules are framed so stringent as even to exclude the possibility of gambling, and the majority of names on the list of members belong to gentlemen whose respectability is beyond doubt, and who certainly never would allow any gambling or other profligacy to be carried on in the club-rooms. A well regulated and properly conducted Club is undoubtedly a boon, in as much as it helps to keep young men away from the undesirable resort, which even a highly respectable pubic house -affords, and therefore ought to be encouraged, especially where the guarantee of order and propriety are such, as the case is here. The question raised is whether the Institute is justified in letting the underground rooms to the Club. I think so. When the Institute was built it was wisely resolved to form a set of rooms underground similar to those in use on the ground floor. It did not increase the expenditure to a large extent, the rooms might, like those under the 'Melbourne Institute, be let for a wine store,& c., and in this way yield a very desirable revenue.- In future time the rooms underground may be required for various purposes in connection with the Institute. ; For years these rooms remained unfinished and unused. Then the Club was formed, offered to rent two of these rooms, 'and as the Committee did not see anything objectionable In a Club, the consequences are. that two of the rooms instead of being perfectly unprofitable and likely to remain so for a long time, now are plastered and floored and bringing in an amount to the treasury, which through the Institute is profitable to the community at large. Such is the case, is anyone the worse for it ? Certainly not. The letters which have appeared in the Bunyip about this are so very much alike that I will only speak of the last. Certainly it has a peculiar merit of its own, which makes it a little more amusing than the rest. The situation is quite dramatical. It is Good Friday and a very fine day too, some of the Gawler folks are in church, others are at picnic. So the town is very, very quiet, perhaps even dull. The protector or public morals appears on the scene ' Visiting your town,' and ' strolling ' in the direction of the Gawler Institute. The quiet appearance of ' your town may have awakened various thoughts in the protector of public morals; it might indicate that the public morals were all right, or perhaps all wrong. Seeing the Institute he remembers with pleasure how (and perhaps what) he had subscribed to that fine building. Unfortunately the Institute is closed, consequently his temper is getting a-' little ruffled, and like most kind strangers he begins to poke about in the hope of finding something to take offence at. He finds all the doors closed (did he try the secretary's kitchen door?) except 'the one down a flight of stairs on the north side. What he wanted down the flight of stairs on the north side is difficult to imagine, unless he thought the 'public morals ' had sought refuge in the Institute cellars, and were waiting there for the protector, like 'lone lorne creatures with whom everything goes contrary. Having entered in search of the said public morals in want of protection he looks around and is surprised to find ' a billiard table in use.' Perhaps it was bought for that wicked purpose. He then goes on to say. ' I also observed bottled ale '( — did he taste it ? If so it was given to him, as he could not buy it there) — 'tobacco, cigars, playing cards, and funny looking (mirth provoking ?) square boxes, such as I have seen used for gambling purposes.' The protector of public morals is evidently an old hand at it, of course I mean at ' observations.'- for certainly he is up to a thing or too. I think it is lawful for two persons, not being blackfellows, to buy a bottle of ale and drink it in their private room, and what is lawful for two may possibly be lawful for 30 or 40. So much for the bottled ale. Billiards requires I understand a clear head, a sure eye, and a steady hand, besides some talent for calculation and mathematics; is it then not possible that the use of a billiard table is not altogether depraving ? With regard to the “funny looking square boxes,” I really don't know what he means, but would it not be more charitable to suppose they are used for balloting or some such case? I do not remember ever having seen any funny looking boxes, except those with a Jack in them. There are none of that kind in the club rooms, and no box whether funny or otherwise was ever used there for “gambling purposes” If the protector of public morals had availed himself of the opportunity of looking over the list of members, his mind might have been less troubled about what might go on in this mysterious room, ' down a flight of stairs on the north side,' for after all he really saw nothing improper taking place, else, judging from his letter, he would most likely have 'observed' as much as possible and made his observations public afterwards. Had he read the rules and regulations (beautifully written, nicely framed, and hung in a conspicuous place) he might; even have improved his own morals. Whether he intends to give to Institutes for the future or not is a question he had better decide without asking all the world about conditional information. To show that I am unbiased in favor of the Club, I beg to state that I very seldom drink ale, that I do not play billiards, or any other game, and finally that I am Not a Member of the Gawler Club.


The Bunyip Friday March 11 ,1892

The Gawler Club—In common with several other clubs in the colony, the Gawler Club was unsuccessfull in securing a licence from the Adelaide Licensing Bench at its session this week. The licencing of clubs is compulsory under the latest Licensed Victuallers Act.


Extracts from History of Gawler by E.H. Coombe Page 44

1879-1880—Mayor, Mr. H.E.Bright jun. Overdraft reduced to 247 pounds. Underground room at Town Hall building let to Gawler Club for 5 years at 50 pounds per annum.

Page 259

The suggestion of starting a club for professional and business men came from Mr. Geo Palmer , manager of the Gawler branch of the National Bank. The club was founded on February 22, 1873 with 34 members, but the names of neither officers nor ordinary members are available. A few years later the list was as follows:- President , Mr. F.F. Turner ; Trustees, Messrs. J. Rudall , J.H. Thornley, and F.F. Turner ; Hon. Secretary, Mr. W.J. Oldham : Treasurer, Mr. C. Newman; Committeemen, Messrs. J. Ferguson, and W.F. Winey ; other members, Messrs. H.E. Bright , Jun., H. Bischof, sen. , L.D.Chapman, J.Dawson, D.W. Duffield ,H.J. Garrod , W.Gilbert , F.J.Harris , A.H Harris , G.W.Hawkes , G.Hilfers , Hon. T. Hogarth , J. Korff , Jas. Martin , J.FG.Martin , F. Makin , F. May , T.H. Murray , M. McCallum , A.E. Nott , Jas. Pile , John Pile , Chas. Pile , Dr.F.W.H Popham , R.T. Reid , G.J. Reade, C.C. Roediger , J.H.Robertson , R. Robertson , E. Thorup , O. Wachsmuth , and J. Wilcox.

In 1880 there were about 50 members and the quarters were in the basement of the Town Hall building. The officers at the time were  :- President , Mr. Arthur Smith ; Hon. Secretary , Mr. Frank L. Barnet ; Committee men , Messrs. R.K. Thomson , J.H. Evans , and W. Robinson ; other members , Messrs. W.H. Cox , Jas. Robinson , R.H. Barnet , Dr. E.V.R. Fooks , Noel Harris , P.W.C. Beadnall, Theo Heuzenroeder , W.J.H. Bassett , A. L. Jaffrey , J.L. Custance , H. Freeman , C.AS. Ferguson , A.L.Killicoat , E.Lenz , S.N. Wreford , J. Gilbert and J. Orr.

The club Quarters are in the Jas. Martin Room of the Insitute


EXTRACT FROM The Gawler Handbook by George Loyau 1880 (page 66)

THE GAWLER CLUB, the location of which is in the underground apartments of the Institute, is well worthy a visit. The first suggestion of starting the Club, which is now looked upon as one of the institutions of the town, was made by Mr. George Palmer, then manager of the National Bank of Crawler. It was founded February 20th, 1873, with 34 members, since increased to 45, and has in every way answered the purpose for which it was intended, that of supplying a place where the young gentlemen of the town could meet for the enjoyment of social pastimes, other than at the hotels. The Club numbers about 50 members, and is represented by the following officers :—President, Mr. F. F. Turner ; Acting Secretary and Treasurer, W .F. Loutit. Committee— Messrs. Ferguson, Popham, M.D., "Wincey, and Roe-diger. Auditors—Messrs. Rudall and Thornley. The rooms are cool and well ventilated and furnished with billiards, chess, cards, and other games. The subscription is £2 2s. per annum.


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