The Establishment Of A Gymnasium

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In the early days of the club’s history members were no doubt content to play and train with the primitive facilities which then existed. After the first World War, use was made of the pavilion which now stands in the north eastern corner of the recreation grounds to hold indoor practices. On moonlight nights training was carried out in the open using a whitewashed ball. There were, of course, at this time, no flood lights to assist vision.

As the club continued to expand in the early 1920’s, the need for some adequate training facilities became imperative. The mind of members turned towards the provision of a gymnasium. The club had no substantial reserves of money and the purchase of a section and the erection thereon of a gymnasium of adequate size seemed to be a distant dream. Out of the blue, as it were, the financial side of the problem was solved by the generous offer of two staunch members of the club, Messrs.Jacobs F. and Morgan H. D. , to advance to the club the necessary money for the purchase of the section and of building materials. With this backing the gymnasium site in Brook Street was immediately purchased and the club was then confronted with the rather colossal task of erecting the gymnasium.

The preparatory work entailed in excavating the site to provide level ground for the gymnasium can be appreciated from a glance at the bank running on the western and north western ends of the present building. This work was all carried out by voluntary labour drawn principally from players and members of the club.

Enthusiasm was then running high and no sooner had the site been prepared than the task of erecting the building was undertaken, again by means of voluntary labour. The plans, which were drawn up by Messrs. Wackrow G. and Jacobs F. envisaged a wood and iron building, 60 feet long by 40 feet wide.

Supervision of the work and direction of operations was entrusted to Mr.G.Wackrow to whom perhaps more than ordinary credit is due in that he was not a member of the club, nor Was he particularly a follower of the Rugby code at all. The work of erecting the gymnasium was not Without its difficulties and disappointments. Indeed at one time, it seemed as if some malign fate were conspiring against the successful conclusion of the work; for after the frameWork and roof trusses had been fabricated and raised into position, there sprang up on the Sunday night a violent southerly gale which blew down the Whole of the work, smashing much of the timber and tumbling the Whole down into what looked like an inextricable mass of confusion. Undeterred by this serious set back fresh timber was procured and the volunteers set about repairing the damage with unabated vigour. Thus came into being the gymnasium with which all of us who belong to the club are so familiar.

Lest the efforts of those who provided this essential amenity for the club go unappreciated, it is desired to point out that not only was all the work carried out by voluntary labour but that it also had to be done over weekends. In those times there was no 40-hour Week and members had only the Saturday afternoons and Sundays to give to the work of erection of the gymnasium. The sacrifices made by these members in devoting weekend after weekend to the attainment of the objective were indeed real ones and it would be little short of base ingratitude to deny them in this narrative their need of praise and thanks.

With the completion of the task the club had a very fine gymnasium, but it also had a debt on it which it was not content to let remain any longer than was avoidable. Additions in the fonn of increased dressing room facilities as well as the provision of better amenities became the object of the administrators and members. To free the gymnasium of debt and to provide these improved facilities the club decided to hold a grand queen carnival. Three queen candidates were chosen and the competitive spirit was fostered by the senior team supporting one queen, the junior team another and the lower grade teams the third. Approximately £400 was raised by this effort and much credit is due to the lower grade teams in that their candidate headed the poll. With the money thus raised the debt on the gymnasium was liquidated and those very desirable improvements which we had in mind became at last a reality.

That players of the present day have not remained content to enjoy these facilities without attempting to improve them even further for future players is evidenced by plans which are now afoot for enlarged dressing room accommodation. When these are completed (and the contractor hopes to start on the work very shortly) our club will possess one of the finest and best equipped gymnasiums in the Wellington district. Our aspirations do not, however, cease here and the feasibility of providing club rooms at the gymnasium has already been considered. This will no doubt depend on availability of funds but the club is confident that the example set us by our older brothers will inspire present day players to emulate their achievements in the provision of facilities and amenities.

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