BALMORAL CYCLING CLUB INCORPORATED.
A Short Club History.
The Club was formed in 1946, among a group of workers in the Hawthorne and Balmoral areas of Brisbane. There is one tale which tells of a meat-worker’s strike in the local abattoirs at the time which was prolonged, and it is said that the Club was formed to give the laid off workers something to do!
Be that as it may, the Club went from strength to strength, rapidly gaining members, (60 by 1948), and developing a series of road races and cycling excursions around Brisbane. The races were held on local streets in the Hawthorne area, and it is said that when cyclists from other clubs came to race, local knowledge gave the Balmoral boys a distinct advantage!
At this time the Club did not have it’s own colours, and as most of the members were from a working class background, not many could afford to buy special cycling jerseys. Thus it was decided that the Club colours would be a simple white “T” shirt, as most members had one of those anyway.
From this came the Club motto: “WHITE SHIRT WINS IT!”
After a couple of years, during which the Club developed further, both in the cycling field and on the social front, thanks to the families of several members, it was thought necessary to find a suitable track for racing. Several of the other Brisbane cycling clubs had their own tracks, or at least access to such a facility, but for Balmoral the answer was simple: build their own!
A parcel of land at Hawthorne was selected and, with the aid of the local Alderman, Mr T. Holmes, a founder member of the Club, the work was put in hand. Fill was obtained from sewage trenching works then being undertaken in that part of Brisbane, and with the labour being supplied by the Club members, this was used to build up the track and bank the corners at each end. The completed track was opened in December 1948. In a few years a wooden building was also constructed at the track, to serve as a headquarters, press box, and a canteen, manned by volunteers from among the member’s families.
Racing continued at Hawthorne until the land was resumed by the Brisbane City Council in 1988 to provide a public park for the Morningside area, when the Club moved to it’s present home at the Murarrie Reserve.
Here, a track was constructed by the Council on the site of a disused rubbish tip that had been partially converted for use as the archery venue for the Commonwealth Games. For the Games, the Brisbane City Council laid down a horse-shoe shaped road around the Reserve, added a car park off Wynnum Road, and a large block of amenities.
Following the closing of the Games, the Council offered the Murarrie facilities to the Balmoral Club in exchange for their land at Hawthorne Park, and, after a good deal of discussion, - and not a little soul-searching, it must be said, - the offer was accepted, and the club moved to it’s new home.
The Council had agreed to complete the sealed road around the Reserve so as to make an oval criterium circuit, and this forms the basis of what we use today. When the Club moved to Murarrie, they brought the wooden building from Hawthorne Park, and it was used for many years as the headquarters and a storage shed, it is still there to this day, having survived intact, despite the occasional determined efforts of vandals and the like.
The Reserve has undergone some changes during our tenure there, including a complete capping and sealing operation to stabilize the site, and reduce the leaching of contaminated water from the underlying rubbish dump. These days, the water that collects at various places around the circuit after heavy rain is at least relatively clean!
During the late-90’s the Club moved consolidate it’s tenure at the Murarrie Reserve when it began work on the clubhouse project.
This started life as an idea one day, during a discussion at the circuit, and developed into a four-year effort involving the then board members in long hours of planning and discussion. In some respects erecting a building something on Council land was a unique proposition, and it was made more complicated by the fact that the site was on an old rubbish tip, and many meetings were held with various ‘interested parties’ before all the problems were sorted our, solutions found, and the essential money raised.
As one of the Club members involved, I must acknowledge the assistance given by the various Brisbane City Council departments with whom we had to deal, as they did everything possible to assist us in bringing the project to a successful conclusion, and arriving at the clubhouse we have today.
Over the years the Club has produced some notable cyclists, not the least being Mike Victor, current President of Cycling Australia; Danny Day, and Chloe Jack, who both took part in the recent Goodwill Games in the Australian Track Team, and, going a little further back, Des Gustavson, who began as a junior rider with the Club.
Bill Heseltine was another prominent Club rider who took part in the Commonwealth Games in Auckland in 1950, when he won gold in the 10-mile track event.
There have been many other people closely involved with the Club over the years, most of whom have not gone on to become house-hold names in cycling, but have worked hard to keep the Club going, and also deserve recognition for their efforts.
The names, and in some cases the pictures, of some of them are displayed in the clubhouse for current members to view.
Oh, and another item on display in the clubhouse is a framed copy of the old rules for racing at Hawthorne Park; so have a look one Saturday morning when you’ve finished your race, and are downing a celebratory coffee!
Balmoral Cycling Club
Mrs Victor (senior)
Mrs Graham (senior)
Bill Heseltine (senior)
V W Klassen