Bruce Hensell

BRUCE RAYMOND HENSELL – 1937-2019

In some remote outpost of the bowling world there may be some poor soul who has never played with or against a ‘Henselite’ bowl, but I doubt it. For in no other sport has a name reigned so supreme for so long. 

It was in 1918 that Willam D. Hensell first developed a rubber bowl for the Dunlop Rubber Company and, with his son Ray, went on to overcome the problem of expansion in extreme temperatures by experimenting with a new, more stable material called phenolformaldehyde, thus creating the first composition bowl in 1931. The ‘Henselite’ was to revolutionise the sport worldwide and supplant a centuries-old tradition of ‘woods’. But it was Ray’s son Bruce who made the Henselite company into a global business which touched the lives of millions of bowlers in every country where the game is played. To date over seven million sets have been produced.

A Victorian to his bootlaces, Bruce spent his entire life in Melbourne but visited every country where the game of bowls is played, and introduced the game to many of them.  Although he dabbled at the game himself, his real hobby was motor cycling, not in competition, but touring with friends throughout Australia and in different parts of the world.

A shrewd businessman, a gentleman, a loving husband and father, and for those of us who were lucky enough to call him a friend, a kind and generous soul who will be sadly missed. His contribution to our game is immeasurable so, the next time you step on the green spare a thought for Bruce Raymond Hensell who sadly passed away last week.

Bruce is survived by his wife Jenny and sons Mark and Alistair, and the Hensellite Company enters its second century and fourth generation in the care of Mark. A memorial service takes place on Thursday 11th April.

David McGill