Tom Everatt with some bridge friends had the idea of forming a Contract Bridge Club in Howick. The first consideration was to find a venue. At the time there were only one or two church halls, or bowling clubs available, all unsuitable for our purposes. The RSA had recently built their new rooms (then known as the Fencible Lounge) and had rooms available down below (now the old library). With the benefit of a friend on the RSA committee, arrangements were made for us to use this downstairs bar and lounge. After advertising in local papers and word of mouth, the Club was born! To use the RSA small round tables, a double layer of Pinex softboards were joined together, with a hollow underneath, and fitted over the round tables—these made quite good bridge tables, until donations of proper tables and later the purchase of tables.
Howick’s first officers were Tom Everatt, President, Phil Van de Paverd, Secretary, and Ray Drake, Treasurer. Table Money was 2/6 (25c) Subs 1 pound, 1 shilling ($2-10).
Decimal Currency arrived, and in the same month our first Tournament was held in the Pakuranga College - 42 Tables!
Tom Everatt died, and Frank Pratt was elected President in December. Frank was a great advocate of "Teams of Four", and many games were played, not only in the club, but against other clubs, many early members were brought up on "Teams of Four"!
"6 O’clock closing" ended, which meant that we could no longer use the downstairs rooms of the RSA. Here again, with the co-operation of the RSA, we were offered the upstairs rooms, gratefully we accepted. We owe such a lot to the RSA for those early years
Friday sessions started. Daisy Miller directed. Anyone who played then would know that come a "feed in" board, there would usually be a slam! Daisy was a great one to "fiddle" the hands!
The Club held the Main Centre Pairs and because of the numbers it was held at the Intercontinental Hotel (now the Hyatt Regency) in Auckland. There were 63 Tables! - 3 Sections of 21 Tables, 3 Sessions - Sat afternoon, Sat Night and Sun Morning, plus Afternoon Tea, Supper, Morning Tea and Lunch!
President Daisy Miller, the search for our own Club Rooms commenced in earnest. August 1970 we held our second largest tournaments on one day in the Fencible Lounge, held on a Sunday, Open 21 Tables, and Intermediate 46 Tables.
Approach made to Howick Council, for financial assistance to build Club rooms. This led to the famous term used by one of the councillors, "Bridge players are middle class bingo players" and "council should not lend money for a bingo hall"! As well as writing to the local paper President Athol Agnew and Bob Robinson, spoke at a later Council meeting explaining Bridge and a site was granted on the Recreation Complex at a "pepper corn" rental - and this is where we are today! Fund raising over the years, in the form of newspaper collections, trading tables, raffles and street stalls, raised over $22000.
First plans of the building were drawn up by member John Built - knocked back by the Council—they wanted them to blend into the Operatic Club. We had to employ an Architect, who drew up more elaborate and acceptable plans. Tenders were called—3 received—all way above what we could look at - $20000 to $30000 too much! Member, John Gillgren, offered to build the Rooms at a figure, which with the chattel requirements would cost about $89000 - within our reach!
Building started. Many members’ efforts went into working bees, donated items, debentures and loan guarantors to keep the cost down and get the Club rooms ready for opening
Club rooms opened by Morrin Cooper, Mayor of Howick.
Computer scoring - Time consuming manual scoring consigned to history!
The beginning of the "No Smoking Saga". There was much division in the Club, until settled at half hour smoking - half hour non smoking!
Wednesday night attendances - 38 tables!
Grading introduced to spread attendances.
"Silent" bidding pads introduced. This meant the end of the opening "1C" or "A Club" ambiguity! As well as the way in which 4 Clubs was spoken!
A Non Smoking night on Fridays was introduced.
Smoking was now permitted after supper!
Our first computer was bought.
Clubrooms now became totally Smoke Free - What a breath of fresh air!