History of the Cambridge Contract Bridge Club
Contributed to by Alyson Clay, Marie Wilson et al
Following a conversation between two nurses Rosemary Stephenson and Betty Taylor, one of whom was taking bridge lessons in Hamilton, they wondered why there was not a Bridge Club in Cambridge and from there they decided to see if there was interest within the community to establish one.
A public meeting was advertised in the local paper and held in the Intermediate school hall to ascertain the level of interest. There was a very good attendance of enthusiastic people and from this meeting a steering committee was organised. In March 1976, after a lot of canvassing of prospective members, an inaugural bridge night was held in the St Andrews church hall. The room was packed with card tables and 72 players. This show of enthusiasm gave the committee the confidence to formally form the Cambridge Contract Bridge Club.
Rosemary Stephenson was elected as the first President with Graeme Wrigley the Treasurer. Bridge tables were purchased, Henry Davys made two sets of 28 boards to hold the playing cards and later a trolley to hold the card tables so they could be easily stored.
Originally there was one club night a week. Results were recorded and handed in for scorers to analyse. Players were rung the next day with the results. ACOL was the only system played and Sue Wrigley, who was an experienced player, was the only director for many years.
For a short while club nights were held in the St John building which had some limitations (concrete floor, cold and noisy) but later moved to the more suitable Alf Walsh room at the Cambridge Trotting Club. The club used this venue for about seven years.
From the formation of the club, the committee had a vision to purchase its own premises and money was set aside each year for this purpose. The committee investigated many avenues, including the possibility of purchasing the old court house. In the early 1980's the idea of owning a property jointly with Federated Farmers was explored but that did not eventuate.
In 1982, following legal advice, the club became an Incorporated Society. That same year the Cambridge Borough Council was approached regarding the purchase or lease of the section in Fort St and a lease was signed in 1983. Money for the projected building was to be raised by $13,000 cash from club funds, $7000 from gifts, $10,000 in debentures from club members (as these matured many were gifted to the club) and a $10,000 loan from the Bank of New Zealand. By March 1983 plans for the building of the club rooms were finalised and a contract with John Grayling for $37,596 was accepted. Funds for furnishing the rooms were raised by many initiatives including dinners, raffles and hard work by all members. Members also purchased chairs for the club.
By the early 1990s there was a need to upgrade the kitchen and toilet facilities. Club funds and a generous grant from the Lottery Board enabled the project to begin in January 1995.
In the past few years there has been a huge response to the club’s free lessons and due to the enthusiasm, skill and energy of club members, we continue to increase our membership.
We have a reputation of being a friendly vibrant club and we look forward to the people of this district enjoying this fascinating game for many years to come.