The Northland Club grew out of the fellowship if “The 13 Club”, which was formed in 1948 by Arnold Franks and Ernie Ralls over a drink after work one Friday night at Pioneer Express Cartage’s premises on the corner of Porowini Avenue and Tarewa Road. They recruited 11 more businessmen to make up the 13 members.
The club was based in a similar club in the USA. They met twice a month to allow their group to network with other businessmen within a social but exclusive setting. Each Christmas, wives and partners joined in the social activities and by all accounts, much fun was had by all.
In 1955, a confidential letter was sent to 27 people asking them to attend a meeting held at the Whangarei Cruising Club to discuss the formation of a social club. During the meeting, which lasted over 2 hours, they discussed the dearth of chartered clubs in Whangarei compared to other similar-sized towns. In forming a social club, it was deemed necessary to discriminate in its members, limiting membership to “commercial, middle class, businessman type of people”. Such a club was needed, they said, it would advance the social progress of the town.
A working committee was elected, possible venues were discussed and supper was served. All present were asked to nominate 10 people as potential members. Messrs Ralls and Woods were charged with opening a bank account, into which the initial one pound per member donation was to be deposited.
The first meeting of the not-for-profit, as yet un-named social entertainment club closed at 10.40pm, with those in attendance described as foundation members.
The next several meetings were largely taken up with the legalities of club formation and the advantages or otherwise of leasing or purchasing premises for the club.
A bungalow was bought from a Mr Caplin for three thousand pounds. The vendor accepted one thousand pounds cash and a mortgage of two thousand pounds at five percent for five years. Repayments were six pounds per week (principal and interest). The cash was made up of 10-pound debentures at four percent, payable within four years.
At the end of May 1956, the Northland Club held its first general meeting and too posession of the premises at 8 Porowini Avenue on Friday June 1st.
One of the first tasks was to provide the lockers necessary to house each member’s alcohol. Membership was around 100, capped at 200, and the entrance fee was five pounds five shillings.
By the 1957 AGM, membership stood at 178 and the club premises provided a billiards room with lounge nook, a large main lounge with a modern indoor bowling rink, a reading room, a visitors room, members’ locker room, an office, shower box and adequate conveniences as well as a self contained caretakers flat.