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Some records of Australian croquet history can be found in England

        Croquet historians in Australia are often upset about the loss of old records. It may not be widely known that the Croquet Association (of England) holds a lot of useful historical records about Australia.

        Some records can be found in old copies of the Croquet Association Gazette, now called the Croquet Gazette. Some of them describe international competitions; others report local competitions or information about clubs that no longer exist.

        A different group of records arose because in 1909 the Croquet Association began to grant affiliation to associations outside England. The idea came from Mr. George Gordon, the president of  the Croquet Association of N.S.W., which was the first association to join. Full details of the scheme do not seem to have survived, but one result was the English Gold Medal and Silver Medal competitions.

        A list of "foreign and colonial associations or clubs affiliated to the Croquet Association" was published each year in the Association Year Book. Most past issues of year books survive in the Association archives, and they tell us when various state associations and clubs were affiliated, and who their secretaries were. The copies in the archive must have been the official ones, because changes in membership and secretaries are entered in ink.

        The following list gives the first year in which an association is mentioned in a year book. The books probably went to press near the start of each year. So if an association is first mentioned in print in one year, it had probably affiliated the previous year. If its name is written in in ink, it would have affiliated in the same year.

1910: C.A.N.S.W.

1913: W.A.C.A.  

Between 1915 and 1919: Victorian Croquet Association
 (No year book seems to have been published in the period 1916-1919. The first details of the V.C.A. are written in the 1915 book.)

1921: S.A.C.A. and Tasmanian Croquet Association

1924: The W.A.C.A., which had been crossed off during the war, reappeared.  The Q.C.A. was added in ink.

1950: Australian Croquet Council and the Croquet Players Association of N.S.W. were both added in ink.

        Some of these dates are earlier than might be expected from surviving records. Possibly some associations closed down during the war and re-formed later.

        Two referees' associations were affiliated for a while. I have not found any records to show the purpose of this practice. The V.C.R.A. first appears in ink in 1951 and continued for most years up to the early 1980's. The W.A.C.A.R.A. first appeared in 1980-1.

        Individual clubs could also affiliate. Early clubs include

1910: Glenelg C.C.;  Melbourne C.C.

1912: Adelaide Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club; Moorabinda C.C. (Bunbury)

        The West Australian Croquet Club is first mentioned in the 1912 year book but might be older, because the 1911 book is missing. It continued until at lest 1915. The Western Australian Croquet Association appears in 1914 and 1915 as a separate organisation with different secretaries.

        For those with wider interests, there were early affiliations from clubs in San Remo, Cannes, Oudtshoorn (Cape Colony), Cairo and Pau.

                I collected this material in 2002, as part of plans for a new international book on the history of croquet. The plans were too optimistic, and the book will not be written. However the papers I collected will not be wasted. One copy will be lodged with the archives of Croquet N.S.W., and I hope to place copies in other archives.

        We have to thank Alan Oldham, who stored so many of the archives in his own home, for making them available. Other records were stored at Hurlingham, and I thank Nigel Graves for making them available.

A news item: There are occasional mentions of Australian croquet in early copies of the Croquet Association Gazette. The following item is exceptional. It was printed at the foot of a column on N.S.W. news on page 289 on December 8th 1910:
"An endeavour is being made to make 8 first-class full-sized lawns. The land having an area of nearly 2½ acres, which will give room for the 8 lawns and a club house, has been purchased in a very central position at Rushcutters' Bay, 15 minutes from the Sydney Post Office, by trams which run every 3 minutes."
If only it had happened!
The land was in the western part of what is now Rushcutters' Bay Park. It was owned by the Lands Department in 1910, and transferred to the City of Sydney in 1912. It is not likely that the croquet community actually bought the site, but perhaps they were trying to raise the money. At the time, two croquet lawns occupied the site where the tennis courts are today. The croquet community leased these lawns for some years, but they finally left in 1934 when they could no longer afford the rent.

Max Hooper