A club for gentlemen

Long time local resident and businessman Jock McIntyre has provided readers with an insight into possibly the oldest club in Tauranga, 'The Tauranga Club'. Jock intends to publish a book on the club in the near future. Here are just a few snippets from this work.

IN 1994 (our centennial year), historian Belinda Leckie was commissioned to put together a history of the Tauranga Club. This comprehensive look into the club's past years has taken many hours of her time. A number of additions have come to light since the original work was completed and information has been added to Belinda's text with her agreement.

Formation of The Tauranga Club

On 31 March 1894, a meeting was held at the Tauranga Hotel for "gentlemen favourable to the formation of a Club in Tauranga". From this meeting, the Tauranga Club was formed.

The Bay of Plenty Times of the time reported that Harry Bell Johnstone was elected president with Lieutenant-Colonel J M Roberts as vice-president; the subscription was set at one guinea per annum and a set of rules was drawn up and suitable accommodation was found for the Club. 34 gentlemen signified their intention of becoming members.

The following week, a set of rules was passed and ordered to be printed and Mr Michael Kenealy's offer for the Club to use a room in the Star Hotel was accepted. During the course of the meeting, Mr Bridgman of the BNZ was elected treasurer and R C Jordan was appointed secretary.

During this early period, the Bay of Plenty Times continued to be the best chronicler of Club history, listing the committees in their occasional annual almanac.

The 1897 committee was:

President Lt-Col J M Roberts, SM.

Vice-President J Cramer-Roberts.

Secretary J H Griffiths.

Treasurer C F Pottestenra.

Committee: E Northcroft, J Baber, H A Sharp, R Seddon, J Thomson, T L Thomson, J W Gray, E Samuel.

Tauranga in the early 1890s

After the worldwide depression of the 1880s, Tauranga was beginning to prosper and expand.

In a report of the area in 1893, the Bay of Plenty Times commented upon a growing demand for land in the area and the development of primary-based industries, including A. Blundell's new flour mill on the Waimapu River and the resurrection of the old dairy factory as a creamery by Messrs Reynolds and Co. Lemon exports were just starting to take off.

"By every steamer lately, and also by coach and horseback, strangers have been coming among us like the spies of the Israelites of old gazing on to the promised land, and have seen that it is very good." Bay of Plenty Times, 1 September 1893.

Club premisesIt has not been discovered exactly when the Tauranga Club stopped using the Star Hotel, however, in 1911, The Club paid the Tauranga Borough Council rates on a building on the northern juncture of Wharf Street and The Strand.

In addition to the owner, the Club shared this building with Bert Rawles and Henry Phillips. The owner of the building was, in fact, Jack and Alec Guinness' mother. The Guinness brothers and their stepfather, John Green had joined the Club in 1908.

In 1912, for the first time The Club also paid rates for the site of what was to become the new Tauranga Club at 72 Devonport Road. This is now occupied by the Devonport Towers building and The Club has retained the fifth floor of this prestigious building.

The minutes of the AGM of 1937 record a membership of 99 and by this time there were already two life members, H A Sharp and H Mansel.

Henry Augustus Sharp was a member of the Tauranga Club from the time of his arrival in Tauranga in 1896 till his death in 1960. Since at least 1940, he was the most senior member of the Club, his nearest rival being HJ Perston, who joined in 1900.

Sharp remained a recognisable figure in dapper dress, complete with spats, around Tauranga till his death.

From its founding, there have been many well known members of the Tauranga community whose names have been associated with the Club although there is very little that is documented prior to the 1940s. Mr William Gifford was made a member in 1913 and Mr Guy Cross his partner in the Bay of Plenty Times Ltd joined soon after. Mr Gifford's son Keith Gifford joined during the 1950s and grandson Allan is a member today. Another early name associated with the club for three generations is Scantlebury. Current member Brian Scantlebury's great uncle was Major Vince Scantlebury an engineer in the Borough Council who was followed by William Brian Scantlebury (Known as Brian) and who started firstly Bay of Plenty Typewriters and later Bay of Plenty Office Supplies. He joined in the 50s and his son Brian joined in 1969.

Gentlemen's Club Ladies Night<inline type="recurring-inline" id="1003" align="outside" enforce-sites="no" />

There has always been a little air of mystery about the Gentlemen's Club as far as most women are concerned, but after last night it has been completely dispelled.

A very gay party, to which wives of members and former members were invited, showed clearly that "they live as we do," and it will now be upon their own heads if in future years there are tactful inquiries at home as to the date for Ladies' Night.

Since its inception 100 years ago, the Tauranga Club has had a strong association with the local racing club. Names, like Jordan, Guinness, Roberts and Sharp appear in connection with both clubs earlier this century. This association continued into the 1960s and 1970s with Ron Dickison, Bill Holland, Bob Silson and Brigadier Les Potter serving on the jockey club's executive. In the words of one member, the connection was mutually beneficial.

It was during the 1960s that the racing men were particularly prominent in the Club. In addition to the four men mentioned above, other prominent men included Jack Scotland, Jim Cooney, Allan Dustin, Bill Johns and Ted Otway.

Towards a new century ...

By the mid 1980s, the Club was beginning to face some real challenges.

While membership was still in the 400s, patronage was down as changing lifestyles were influencing members' choices.

The election of Jan Beckingsale was quickly followed by the appointment of Paula Ireland as the Club's first female secretary/manager in 1990. Miss Personality in the 1987 Festival of Tauranga, Paula added a whole new dimension to the Club.

Somehow this history would be incomplete if John Mowlem's fish was left out. The fish was certainly the most "veteran member" of the Club.

In 2012 "The Fish" has pride of place in the Tauranga Big Game Fishing Club of which John Mowlem was also a member. A plaque recognises the gift from the Tauranga Club. This was presented to them when the original premises were demolished in 2000.

Since the opening of the new premises in 2004, first Andrew von Dadleszen followed by Jock McIntyre were able to hand over an active club to current President Mike Chapman. The Tauranga Club has entered a new era and is holding its head high. While retaining some of the formality and traditions of the past, current manager Deborah Naismith with her predecessor Wayne Walford, have ensured the facility is providing for a new and younger cliental as well as maintaining a facility that traditionalists will still want to frequent.

Jock would appreciate any old photos of interest to Tauranga Club members suitable for publication in a book about the history of the club which is currently being assembled.

He advised the club is currently undertaking a membership drive and welcomes prospective new members. The club has waived the standard joining fee of $295 and interested parties should approach the manager, Deborah Naysmith at the club for an application form or an opportunity to view the club rooms.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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