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Travis Silvester, left, David Corbett, Murray Annals, Christine Alley and Nigel Bax. Photo: GORDON PREECE

Alley Memorial Park scores centenary

More than 500 people attended the grand opening of Alley Memorial Park a century ago, and now the committee hopes 100 people will help mark 100 years at celebrations on January 21.
The park was established as a small wooden clubhouse in February, 1923, after Hikutaia local William Alley donated 3.5 acres of land to the community in 1921 for a war memorial park, a croquet lawn, tennis courts and a bowling club.
David Corbett, who has been a member of the park for almost 50 years, told The Profile the interclub croquet, bowls and tennis competitions had been the greatest success.
“When the club goes out and challenges other clubs, that’s been a major right from the opening,” he said.
“Two of the croquet club members Pauline and Ralph Bax were national champions and another pretty big thing was Mal Morrison, he was a national selector for bowls.
“He was a major part of the club and he headed to the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur as a selector.”
David said the croquet club closed in 1986 and the current tennis and bowling club both had around 25 paid members.
Community support was vital to keep them operating, he said.
“The park would go through more than $4000 but the bowling club goes through more expenses than that because they’ve got to maintain the machinery for the grass,” he said.
“Whereas the tennis club is more maintenance free, but the tennis balls exceed a couple of thousand a year.
“It’s more of a social club now – playing bowls and tennis once a week on Thursday to incorporate any members to come along and join as a social member, because we’ve got the bar licence as a sports club and sausage sizzles to cover a bit of cost.”
The World War I memorial gates at the park entrance were opened on December 12, 1926, with the names of the 11 Hikutaia men who died and the 29 Hikutaia men who served inscribed on pink granite tablets set into the pillars.
David said a new pavilion was built in 1969 dedicated to the memory of those who served in World War I, and a third tennis court was constructed in 1991.
“A real feature was the amount of fundraising for the third tennis court. Quite a few years we did hay making and we certainly generated quite a few dollars ourselves and we also got a donation from the Lotteries Commission.”
David said the centenary celebrations on January 21 would begin at 11am with a luncheon followed by speeches and a cake cutting before the courts and greens open for tennis and bowls.
“The 100-year celebrations are probably going to be a bit smaller than the 50-year celebration but back then the club was a lot bigger with a lot more members,” he said.
Long-serving member Christine Alley, whose husband Allen is a fourth generation Alley, hoped there would be “around 100 people for 100 years”.
DETAILS: For enquiries about the Alley Memorial Park centennial contact David Corbett, Ph 022 011 3487.

Alley Memorial Park opening.