Frankton Junction unveils ‘the Dome’

Over the years, the suburb of Frankton Junction in Hamilton has dropped in and out of noteworthiness.

A hundred years ago, it was one of the busiest transport hubs in the country … where the main trunk railway junctioned with the east coast line to Thames, Waihi, Te Aroha and Rotorua … and where the railway station tearooms provided a take-it-or-leave-it selection of food and drink served on chunky Crown Lynn tattooed with a blue NZR logo.

When the railways waned, Frankton Junction waned.  It wasn’t until 2008 that the suburb again enjoyed a moment in the sun, when it became the site for the New Zealand leg of the V8 supercars race.  Unfortunately, that brief moment ended in 2012.

But Frankton Junction is now one of the places to be watched again.  Sure, not enough to distract people from the fabulous Hamilton Gardens down the road which are a must-see for even non-gardeners.  But for the lawn bowls community, the magnificent new roof at the Frankton Junction Bowling Club has made the club a ‘must-visit’.

Affectionately named ‘the Dome’ the recently opened roof has been some time in the making.

“Talk started about a roof about 4 years ago,” says Frankton Junction Bowling Club President Brian ‘Oz’ Osmond (pictured above).  “Not here at Frankton Junction, but across the railway at Frankton Railway Bowling Club.  They already had a covered facility, but it was showing its age and was still lumbered with a mortgage the club had to service.”

“They came to the conclusion that they’d be better to sell up, and build a new roof at a combined facility here at Frankton Junction.”

Two years ago, the two clubs merged, and the Frankton Railway Club land was sold, releasing funds to build the new roof at the Junction.

“Building the new roof was far from easy,” adds Oz.  “What started off as a $1.3million project escalated into something much more.  After Cyclone Gabrielle, stormwater requirements changed, and we were required to install massive underground water retention tanks.”

“Originally the contribution to council development costs was going to be $243,000, but at least we managed to reduce that with a lot of negotiation.  But what we couldn’t reduce was the $50,000 needed to transport the excavated contaminated base dirt all the way up to Pokeno.”

“Some of the requirements made no sense … there’s a gap between the roof and the roof of the clubhouse, which allows the weather to come in.  Apparently that’s so we don’t have to have a firewall.”

“However, we’re all done now.  And we can put all those frustrations behind us.  It’s a fabulous facility, and we’re already seeing new members joining the club as a result.”

in Mid-March the club held an official opening.

“The local iwi carried out a dawn blessing,” explains Raewyn Chalklen, Secretary of the club (pictured above with Os), “And then we had a more formal opening at 11:00am with the Mayor, Paula Southgate; the President of the Workingmen’s Club, Brian Simpson, the Past President of Frankton Railway Bowling Club, Doug O’Brien; and the Chief Executive of Bowls New Zealand, Mark Cameron.”

“Pat Weekes, a Past President of Frankton Junction had the honour of rolling the first bowl, while Bowls New Zealand's Club Support Manager Martin MacKenzie threw down the first jack.”

“That was followed by a luncheon, and bowls were left out for anyone who wanted to have a roll-up and try out the new carpet.

As expected, there’s already a lot of demand for ‘the Dome’.

“The Centre’s already made bookings, and we anticipate that Bowls New Zealand will put its hand up when there’s a national tournament in the Waikato,” says Raewyn.

“We co-manage the facility with the Workingmen’s Club, and that’s working well … both the workingmen’s club and the bowling club are getting the roof when they want it.”

Next time you’re in Hamilton, pop into the Frankton Junction Bowling Club.  They would love to see you there.