1910 to 1950
Crewkerne Bowling Club was founded in 1910 by a group of business men from the town. Mr John Tompsett a Wholesale and Retail grocer along with others supplied the initial finances to form a bowls club.
On 13 June 1911 a lease agreement was put in place with the Crewkerne Fair and Markets Company Ltd stating that from 25 December 1910 a piece of land which was part of the Cattle Market would be used for the purposes of a bowling green. The following year this land known as Chubbs Lawn was adopted as the green. Mr Tompsett provided the club house complete with thatched roof and gas supply.
A General Meeting was arranged for 24 January 1930 attended by twenty gentlemen most of whom had been previously involved with the club. It was unanimously agreed that the old club would cease to exist and a new club would be formed and registered according to the rules and regulations submitted by the Registrar of Friendly Societies. To enable the envisaged development and club extension to take place further subs were needed.
Twenty nine members made loans and donations amounting to £323, each one them became a shareholder. A strip of land was purchased from Fred Stoodley’s garden 26ft 6in x 156.6in for £100. A deed transfer from The Crewkerne Fair and Markets Company was signed by the trustees and presented to the club.
In 1931 a ladies committee was established, a Ladies Day which was an annual event took place in June. Men organised prizes and tea was served at 4.30pm.
By the end of 1934 the bank overdraft had been cleared. The fund raising, whist drives and bridge was going well.
County honours in 1935 went to Mr J Manley who was selected to play for the County against the South Africans.
In May 1939 a Ladies Club was formed. They were allowed to play on rink four except on match days, they could use other rinks on afternoons when they were not being used.
The war years took their toll with many members being called up for military service. The club came close to closing, a number of members made interest free loans and donations to keep it going. They paid for maintenance and upkeep as well as County fees. In 1949 the annual rateable value of the green reduced from £14 to £9.
1950s and 60s
The fifties recorded a great deal of success on the green. Gerald Isaacs and Jim Manley won the County Pairs Competition. Gerald was the County Champion in 1955, he played for Somerset when they won the Middleton Cup. He also played for England against the home counties at the Belfast Internationals in 1956.
The Somerset County Bowling Association were invited to play at the club for the 50th Anniversary celebrations.
By the 1960s the neighbouring cattle market had closed and Crewkerne Urban District Council turned the site into a public car park.
In 1968 following the deaths of two long standing members Jim Manley and Hubert Gibbs a memorial fund was set up and money was raised to make improvements to both the pavilion and the kitchen. The building was re-roofed and the front was extended by about three feet as a memorial to Jim Manley.
The club tie was introduced in the early sixties and in 1969 the District Council gave permission to the club to incorporate the town coat of arms in a club blazer badge.
Another major change in 1969 was the connection of an electricity supply replacing the gas that had been used for lighting and heating since 1910.
1970s and 80s
1970 was the club’s Diamond Jubilee year. To celebrate the 60th anniversary a match was played against the Somerset County Bowls Association Executive, the Exec won by 16 shots. The Jim Manley Memorial seats were presented to the club and the pavilion extension was officially opened.
An extra general meeting was held on 11 May 1972. It was decided to withdraw registration from the Friendly Societies and reconstitute the club as a private club. A new set of rules was drawn up by the committee and adopted at the following AGM.
During 1975 long term plans were put forward for the green to be expanded to six rinks and a pavilion to be erected that would include full facilities for refreshments, men’s and ladies’ changing rooms and toilets. In 1977 the year of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee the east side extension to the green was progressing and planning approval was granted to extend the building.
During the building extension a retaining wall was built and the steps were resited. The clubhouse extension was a sectional building which the members were required to erect and complete the interior work.
In 1981 a proposal was put forward to bring the green to full size by lengthening each end, the widening of the west end would entail the purchase of extra land from Yeovil District Council on the car park boundary. During 1987 in preparation for the green extension the hedge and garden on the car park boundary were removed. With the help of volunteer club members the work was finally completed early in 1988. The hedge was replaced by a chain link fence and a metal gate.
The next major project was the building of the toilet block and ladies’ changing facilities. Again a small area of land was purchased from Yeovil District Council and an easement agreement for the drainage to connect to the public sewage system was implemented. Following a number of changes to the original plan the project was finally completed in 1991. Members and friends rebuilt the machinery store and renovated the roof of the club house.
1984 was the year that our current President Mike Harwood joined the club.
On the green the club saw success with members winning the Somerset Singles and Pairs Championships.
This period saw major changes to the club house and facilities. The Hurle House Yard end had a face lift and the Venns Electrical workshop and store were converted into cottages. On the green side the sagging roof was raised and the local stone walls were repointed.
Meanwhile the club still enjoyed success with tournaments including the Open Triples.
An extraordinary general meeting was called in 2000 and it was decided that the club house, kitchen and changing rooms would be replaced. Planning permission was sought for a sectional timber frame building measuring 70ft long x 14ft wide.
Work started in November 2001 when the existing buildings were removed, after the ground works were completed steel girders were placed in position to take the new structure. Members carried out much of the installation works including electrical, dry lining, decorating and kitchen fitting. The project was financed with a grant from South Somerset District Council and an interest free loan from the English Bowling Association as well as club funds.
The new club house was opened in April 2002 by Norman Thomson the ex-president of the English Bowls Association, many local officials and bowls representatives from the county attended. The icing on the cake was the long awaited licensed bar making it a truly celebrated event.
2003 brought more changes when the Palace Cinema/Madisons nightclub was demolished and replaced by twelve new town houses. The old sheet metal fence between our green and the new houses was replaced by a new wall with pillars and wrought iron panels.
The President Derek Lush was elected County President for the year 2006 having been a member of the club for twenty years.
2010 was a very special year for Crewkerne Bowls Club when members celebrated the club’s centenary.
To commemorate the event Ron Cannons donated the wrought iron gates that adorn the entrance to the club.
One of the centenary highlights was a match between Crewkerne and the Royal Windsor Household that was held in Windsor.
In the intervening years Crewkerne Bowls Club has continued to thrive with increasing membership and has achieved success in both county and national competitions.
With thanks to Mary Spurway for the Club’s historic information that was obtained from her booklet “Crewkerne Bowling Club Centenary.”