The Reserve at the top of Pirie Street near the bus tunnel has been a recreation area for many decades, and is also the site of the Victoria Bowling Club.
While it has been used for recreation for many years, for some time the playing of games on Council-owned land was prohibited on Sundays. This restriction was apparently not always observed, however, to the dismay of some locals. In 1929, an A Joynt wrote to the Mayor:
Dear Mr Mayor,
At the Pirie Street playing ground there is a notice stating the playing of games on Sunday is prohibited. Up to within a few weeks ago this has been fairly well observed, but during the last few Sundays, in the mornings, football is in full swing up to noon. Of course, there is perhaps nothing in the kicking of a ball around the ground, but when the players get into “scrums” and “rushes”, the excitement grows, and with it a torrent of blasphemy and filthy remarks which, on a quiet morning can be heard all over the neighbourhood, so that one can not sit in one’s garden without one’s ears being assailed with the verbal muck. May I respectfully request that better supervision be given so that this annoyance will cease. On no other ground, over which the Council has jurisdiction, can playing be seen on Sundays, so why this one?
The area started to see more organised use for recreation with the construction of a pavilion for the Mt Victoria Croquet Club in 1930. Then, in 1931, a playing area of about 2 acres was proposed by The Education Board of the District of Wellington for the proposed new Clyde Quay School. Work for this was carried out under the Unemployment Scheme No. 5.
It continued to be booked by many groups for events, however, from Girl Guides to Indian sports clubs. One of the more interesting ones was a booking by the Friends of the Soviet Union in 1935. Miss LM Puckridge of the Friends sent the programme for the day to the Council along with her request for a permit to use the reserve:
The following is a programme for the Children’s Fete we propose to hold in Pirie St Reserve on Sat. Nov. 9th
1.30 Races, including sack, egg and spoon, skipping races
2.0 Baby Show
3.0 Competitions in character and Highland dancing
Ice cream and soft drink stall
Punch and Judy
Please will you grant us a permit for the use of the Reserve. I enclose 5/-.
In 1955, croquet gave way to bowling and the Council approved land for the development of bowling greens for the Victoria Bowling Club and the Victoria Women’s Bowling Club.