History of the club
Rotorua Bridge Club was started in 1955, with the first recorded AGM in November 1957. The founders were Mr Ib Thulin and Mr FR (Bobs) Cowper. Ib Thulin worked at The FRI and there have been many club members from this institution through the years.
In 1957 the first Annual Tournament was held at Brent’s Hotel, with players from many other North island clubs represented. The Club membership in these early days was around 50 and yet the average number of tables per playing night was 10. A very active membership!
The first venue, other than private homes, was the Women’s Club in Hinemaru Street but by 1958 larger premises were being considered and mention was also made of building our own clubrooms - 20 years before the idea was realised. In the intervening years the club used several different venues, including the Soundshell, the Bowling Club Pavilion and the Blue Baths.
The ‘Bay Pairs’ competition was started in 1963. Originally played at four clubs - Kawerau, TePuke, Opotiki and Rotorua, the inaugural event was won by Mrs Phillips and Mrs Smith. Jean Phillips went on to become a life member of our club, playing club bridge and tournaments into her nineties.
In the early seventies the club was playing at the Blue Baths, but the membership had grown to 188 and efforts to own our own clubrooms had begun in earnest. In 1976 the club negotiated with the County Council to secure the site at Neil Hunt Park where our clubrooms now stand, and from then on things moved quickly. By November 1978 we were installed in our new purpose-built rooms.
In 1979 the club launched itself into the computer age with the purchase of a computer and printer to help with the scoring - due probably in no small part to the fact that Alan Dick was by now President of the club. It was paid for by a raffle of a colour TV!
After buying our first computer for scoring, the next big change to the way bridge sessions were organised was the dealing machine, was purchased in 2000.Owning a dealing machine and supplying hand records for all sessions made a huge difference to running tournaments.
Rotorua runs several successful tournaments each year, and when the Tokoroa Club decided that their popular Christmas tournament would be held for the final time in 2000 we quickly applied for the date. This proved to be a huge success, often so popular there are waiting lists to get in.
In the new century the club has continued to embrace the technological changes that have come, introducing Bridgemates in 20??. In recent years we have faced the same problems as many other clubs of falling membership and the difficulty of getting learners from the classes to join the club. However, we continue to have a strong membership, with many players participating at a high level in tournaments around the region.