A SHORT HISTORY OF WARMINSTER BOWLING CLUB
(This text is derived from a longer account of the Warminster Bowling Club History)
The origins of the current Warminster Bowling Club can be traced back to 1898 when its original location was adjacent to the current Warminster Cricket Club in the Sambourne area of Warminster. The original membership were responsible for laying the first ‘green’ and maintained it as such through until 1922 when it was moved to the Pavilion Gardens in Warminster.
This move appears to have been in response to both a growing interest in the game and also a desire to maintain standards with other local clubs who, often, had their ‘green’ laid professionally. The finance for this appears to have been provided by Warminster Urban District Council who subsequently leased it back to the Club. It is worth noting that while the Club only remained at this location until 1928 the original bowls lockers are still located within the Pavilion.
In 1927 a substantial injection of money was required to maintain the premises and rather than inject this funding and remain tenants the Club membership chose to finance a private facility rather than a public entity. In 1928 a General Meeting endorsed this decision and 3 local sites were surveyed – the original site at the Cricket Club, and two owned by Mr Tanswell (a Club Member) – one that is now the Car Park behind Morrisons Supermarket and a second site at Ash Walk. The landlords of the Cricket Club would not sell and the ‘Morrisons’ site had the old River Swan piped below it and also a sewerage system in place!! This left Ash Walk which was bought for £50 and has been the Clubs home since that year. A further £750 was spent on developing the facilities which were completed in 1929 with the first match being played in June 1929.
At this time there were only 33 Members (11 of them in the Ladies Section) who the accounts show generated an annual income of £35 from subscriptions and other funding activities. The groundsman, Mr Wade, does not appear to have drawn a salary – most likely funded directly by Club Members. Such was the quality of the new green (Cumberland turf) that records show County matches were played at the venue against Hampshire (July 1931) and Dorset (July 1932).
During this period the Clubs major benefactor was Mr Stratton who regularly made significant donations to the Club and on one occasion settled club debts directly when it was threatened by litigation. Significant efforts were also expended over a prolonged period by Mr AB Pickford who served as Secretary & Treasurer for 22 consecutive years and Mr AJ Field who served similarly for 12 years. Mr & Mrs AJ Dale are credited with keeping the club viable during the War Years and maintaining the green as best they could over that period – without those efforts the green could well have ‘reverted to nature’.
In the early 1970’s the Club found itself unable to afford the upkeep of the facilities and on 29 March 1974 a lease was signed for 21 years with the Town Council who subsequently leased it back to the Club with an agreement the Council would maintain the green at a subsidised rate. On 1 Jan 1995 the Club regained control of its facilities and began a series of projects that now form the basis of the current layout at Ash Walk.
The current Clubhouse was financed by a Sports Lottery grant, local sponsorship and interest free loans from Club Members and Bowls England – it is a facility we are rightly proud to make available within the community. In return for the Lottery Grant we have undertaken to promote Bowls in the area for all age groups, ethnic minorities, the socially disadvantaged and the disabled. We are delighted that all outstanding loans were successfully repaid by the end of 2009.
In common with the majority of Bowls Clubs around the world we are indebted to the efforts of all those who have gone before us. Without those un-documented efforts we would not enjoy the facilities available to us at present. This précis of the Club History recognises those efforts and the absence of many named individuals does not diminish their efforts but celebrates them on our behalf.