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Leisure Isle Country Club 1963 to 2011

The following is the story of the L.I.C.C since its founding in 1963
(written by Peter Thomas):


Before recording the starting of the Leisure Isle Country Club, the story must begin with how Leisure Island came about.


The romantic story of an uninhabited Island developed by one man, Mr. George Cearn, who arrived in Knysna in 1925.

He and his wife (who he married in November 1903) had travelled the world and Knysna was to be their final stop.

George Cearn decided to develop Steenbok Island which belonged to the Duthie Family of Woodbourne Farm. It was cut off from the mainland (other than at low tide) and was used for cattle-grazing and accommodated herds of Steebok and flocks of wild birds.

He bought the Island from the Duthie’s for R22,000 and employed Mr. Dantjie Keyter at R1 per day to build a wall around the Island and a causeway for access to and from the mainland.

Rock was mined from a quarry on the mainland (at the end of Armstrong Drive) and transported via a coco-pan rail line. Some 55 labourers were used and 3 years later the job was complete. The Island was surveyed and declared a township called Leisure Isle. Cearn decided to hand the island over to the Divisional Council.

In 1948 Leisure Isle was approved as a local area under the control of the Divisional Council which was guided by the Leisure Isle advisory board.

The board was guided by their chairman General B. F. Armstrong DSO who features prominently in the LICC Bowls, Tennis and Social sections.

In 1967 the Knysna municipality took over Leisure Isle.



By now Leisure Isle had a golf course with a nearby hotel which was used as a clubhouse. The missing links, namely a bowling green and tennis court were being built opposite the hotel. A committee had been elected to run the affairs of the above.


The committee as at 29 November 1963 comprised:
President: General B. F. Armstrong DSO
Honorary Secretary/Treasurer: Mr. W. J. H. Louw

Mrs. Lucy Wiles, Mrs. J. Cornell, N. Lacey, L. Lauwners, R. Hart, H. McDonald,
Judge De Villiers.

The committee decided on subscriptions and fees which were as follows:

Annual charges:
Leisure Isle Residents – no entrance fees
Subs – Men R5.00, Ladies R3.00, Married Couples R7.00, Juniors R50c
Non Residents of Leisure Isle – Entrance fee R4.00 per member
Married Couples R6.00, Subs R6.00, Ladies R4.00, Married Couples R8.00
The following subs and fees covered bowling and tennis sections:
Non-playing members R1.00 per person
Bowling members to pay a green fee of R10c
Bowling visitors to pay a green fee of R25c
Tennis playing fee of R75c per month or 25c per week
Juniors playing fee was 25c per month
Casual visitors (am or pm) 15c

The committee also decided on the club flag and club pocket badge.
There would be ‘tabs in’ on Wednesdays and Saturdays with ‘arranged games’ on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The green was closed on Mondays and Fridays.


The opening ceremony of the Leisure Isle Sports Club was on the 30th November 1963 at 14h00 and this was attended by well over 100 guests, bowlers and tennis players. In his opening speech General Armstrong paid tribute to the late Mrs. Cearn who, in her will, provided finance for the building of the clubhouse (which would become the section where the ladies cloakroom is, the clubhouse has been extended over the years), the bowling green and all weather tennis court.
Mr. Robert Hart was thanked for supervising the building of the green and clubhouse.


General Armstrong asked Robert Hart to bowl the first bowl and declared the Clubhouse open. Bowls and tennis were then played on 7 rinks by 56 bowlers and 8 lady tennis players. Unfortunately it would be some time before the green could be used to its full potential. (Soon after the official opening only 2 rinks were used.)
Water was the main problem and, despite the hotel running a hose across the road when they were not using their ‘spike’, the grass battled to grow!
Labour was provided by the Divisional Council in the form of 1 labourer who worked 4 days per week. In 1965 he was employed by the club at a daily wage of R1.25


In January 1966 a motor mower was purchased for R40.
In June 1966 a ‘spike’ was installed near the 9th golf green (ie: near where Links Drive and Thornley Drive meet) and this water was pumped into a storage dam (now a flower bed, situated near the existing tool shed.) and, from there onto the green. This was the year when the green became 100% playable.


Club competitions were played for the first time in 1966 and the men’s singles cup was presented by Captain Carter. The ladies singles cup was presented by Mrs. D. Davies. The drawn mixed-pairs cup was presented by Mrs. Swanevelder. During this year the clubhouse was extended and a shed for fertilizers, machinery etc. was built (where the existing shed is now positioned).

The 1966 Financial Statement as presented by the Honorary Treasurer reflected the following:


Subscriptions R  348.10 Tools & plant R 156.22
Greens & Tennis fees R  316.25 Fertilizer R 106.78
Sale of picture R   50.00 Maintenance  R   70.88
Wrong ‘bias’ fines R     4.63 Tennis court R   88.45
Hat bands & tabs R   22.85 Electricity R   19.00
Competition fees R  11.75 Fees R   63.76
Jumble sale R 100.43 Hat bands & tabs R  24.83
Refund ((overcharge)  R    17.89 Clubhouse R 225.69
  R 871.90 Stationery R   10.67
    Sundries  R   19.25
    Donations R   23.80
    Hedge Plants R     4.25
      R 813.59
    Excess Receipts R  58.59
Cash in the bank R 142.78 Over expenditure R 871.90


At a special general meeting on 2nd October 1967 it was decided that the Leisure Isle Country Club be created with it’s constitution and that the bowls section and the tennis section would each have their own constitutions.
On 1st January 1968 the Leisure Isle Sports Club would cease to exist and the L.I. C.C. would come into being with the bowls and tennis sections operating to their own constitutions under the L.I.C.C. umbrella. The social side of the club would fall under the L.I. C.C.


In April 1968 the construction of the second tennis court was started using money raised by donations and cost R1475 to build before it was brought into play.
In 1969 the Leisure Isle Bowling Club entered a team in the SA Nationals (East London) for the first time.
In October 1971 the George Bowling Club suggested that a league be started amongst the Southern Cape clubs.
General Armstrong (who, it appears, had ruled the show with a rod of iron) died on 22nd of December 1971. He had a great deal to do with setting the foundations of the club as we now know it in 2011.


At the LICC Annual General Meeting held on 20th February 1973 (10 years after the club had started) the number of members were:
LICC 127, Bowls 55, Tennis 74.
During this time Cearn Hall played a significant role in the social activities of Leisure Isle. This was used for rate payer’s meetings, Christmas parties, the Bridge Club, Table Tennis and also a venue for bowls and tennis section meetings.


Unfortunately, minute books from the 70’s to the mid 80’s were destroyed. It is that the Bowling Club continued to have problems with the green during this period. Green keepers changed at regular intervals with many ‘experts’ giving advice!


However, the club continued to expand and the decision was taken to build a second bowling green which was opened in January 1984.
The clubhouse was altered during 1983/1984 and a third tennis court was also built during this period.

The Bowling Club needed an injection of bowlers and, fortunately, a band of Knysna golfers suggested to the club that they were keen on starting a ‘Friday afternoon bowling school for golfers. They would become members of the Bowling Club and the ‘Friday School’ commenced on 2nd March 1984 with some 28 bowlers supporting the club on Fridays.


The LICC did not have a Liquor License, however, the Leisure Isle Hotel was just across the road and club members used this licensed facility after bowls on a regular basis.
The Friday bowls started a ‘locker system’ for their liquor requirements and this worked so well that the golfers donated a fridge to the club and this system was used by all LICC members. The LICC then applied for an official and, after a temporary license was allocated, the full liquor license was finally granted on 5th May 1993.


The ‘Friday School’ continues strongly today (2011) and works with an informal committee of three who invite new members into the school. The competitiveness of the school of some 35 men enjoy themselves. Many of them participate in the ‘tabs in’ bowls as well as representatives of the club in national and district bowls tournaments.


In July 1986 the club became part of the Knysna July festivals by making a green available to the Knysna Bowling Club. Today Leisure Isle provides two greens and Knysna Bowling Club (host club) provide three greens.


It seems as if this was the first competition of 4 days that Leisure Isle became involved in. It was also the forerunner of the sponsored tournaments that Leisure Isle run with great financial success.


In 1992 the Leisure Isle Bowling Club changed the constitution that the President may only serve two consecutive years at any time so that the President may be elected to serve another two years.


In 1993 the LICC bar was built as it is today in 2011.
In January 1993 the Leisure Isle Country Club signed a new 50 year lease with the Knysna Municipality for the ground it leases. (This ends in 2043).
In 1994 the Bowling Club had 200 members.
Membership of the 3 sections of the LICC in 2011 are:-
LICC: 52
Bowls: 114
Tennis: 47


It has been an interesting experience in putting the bits and pieces together. It is hoped that, in the years to come, somebody continues with a record of the club.
It will be noted that, other than the foundation committee members, no names have been mentioned.


In 1996, Bowls South Africa decided to discard the positions of both a male and female President and, since then, only one President is elected at a time.
(Leisure Isle elected its first lady President in 1998).

General Island history items

The attached scanned items show some of the press coverage during it's colourful history.........


Island Hotel MIlestones


The attached scanned items show some of the press coverage and documents related to Leisure Island Hotel.........





Leisure Gardens press coverage


These scanned images reveal interesting milestones in the development of the senior citizen's retirement village now known as Leisure Gardens.




Municipal matters on Leisure Isle


The scanned press releases below relate to some municipal articles related to Leisure Island....