Fishbourne Bowling Club



  A brief history of the Club

The Club has existed as Fishbourne Bowling Club since December 1984. However, that is by no means the start of things. The Club’s history goes back to 1933, when the Singleton Bowling Club was founded, playing on a bowling green at the back of the Horse and Groom pub in Singleton. Unfortunately little is known about the history of the Club in the pre-war days as no records survive. However, at least one of our current trophies dates back to those days.

At some time during the Second World War, the Singleton Bowling Club closed and the Green was used in 1944 as a camp for American soldiers. On Monday 5th May 1953 a Public Meeting was held in the Horse and Groom at Singleton “to consider the prospects of reviving the Bowling Club.” Ten people attended the meeting, including H A ‘Chub’ Smith, who was elected Secretary and Treasurer in 1954. He remained in that office until 1985. We still have a seat donated by him at our Green.

The meeting decided to revive the Club and at a further meeting held on 18th May, Officers and a committee were elected. The Landlord of the pub was invited to become President and this tradition was continued until 1984. Despite having difficulty finding sufficient members the Club struggled on and even managed to enter a number of County competitions. However, in 1984 a new Landlord came to the Horse and Groom and relations became less cordial. At the start of the season, the annual rent was increased from £100 to £260, although this was subsequently reduced to £170. At the end of the 1984 season, the Singleton Bowling Club was asked to leave.

At the AGM, one of the members, Charlie Smith, was elected President and the Club became a bowling club without a bowling green. They considered becoming a nomad club, playing away matches only until a new green could be found. However, Charlie Smith had contacts at Fishbourne, where a new recreation ground, which had been purchased in the 1970s from a local farmer for the benefit of the village and surrounding area, was now being administered by the Fishbourne Playing Fields Association (FPFA). They were offered a plot of land upon which to construct a new green.

The FPFA needed a regular income to provide funds for the upkeep of the land and decided to set up a social club. However, because it was a registered charity (No. 305369), it was not allowed to be involved with running a licensed premises. The Fishbourne Club was therefore established and all members of the sports clubs on the playing field were also required to be members of the Fishbourne Club.

After a considerable amount of work by the members a four-rink green was ready for play in 1985 and this was increased to six rinks by the following season. An Open Meeting was held at which it was decided that the name of the Club be changed to the Fishbourne Bowling Club, although it was clearly stated that this was a change of name only and that the Club should be considered as having been in existence since 1933. New members were recruited, including Bill Adams, Dudley Galliard, Bob Blackie and Fred Lewis, all of whom were to play an important part in the development of the Club over the next few years.

The original Green was nothing more than a field with the grass cut short and it sloped from corner to corner with a fifteen-inch drop. It remained a challenge until a new purpose-built green was laid in 1995. Interest-free loans were offered by members in order to provide the necessary funds for the green to be professionally constructed. It was laid by the Havant Borough Council, with 50% of the cost being provided by the Foundation for Sport and the Arts. By this time the membership had reached 100, rising to a maximum of 120 by the end of the decade and the members’ loans had been repaid by 1998.

The Clubhouse was a portacabin, which stood on the north side of the green. By the year 2000 it was clear that it was no longer adequate for the thriving bowls club and members were once again asked to provide interest-free loans so that a purpose-built timber pavilion could be constructed. This was built by Solent Construction in 2001 at a cost of approximately £18,000, with 25% being covered by a leisure grant from Chichester District Council. It included changing rooms and toilets, with emphasis on providing facilities for the disabled. The work on finishing the interior of the building was carried out by members, thus saving an additional £3,000. Once again, the members’ loans were repaid within three years.

old clubhouse
The old Clubhouse 1999

new clubhouse 1

New Clubhouse under construction 2001

new clubhouse 2

Part of the agreement with the FPFA was that all refreshment such as after-match teas, had to be taken in the Fishbourne Club. Although severely restricting the activities within the new pavilion, this arrangement worked well until the Fishbourne Club was closed in 2009. A new Community Centre was to be constructed with the help of a sizeable Lottery grant and it became clear that after-match refreshment would no longer be available from the Centre. The restriction regarding catering in the pavilion was therefore lifted but the building was not large enough to seat up to 48 players plus guests, nor did it have any kitchen facilities. For the third time in ten years, members were asked to provide interest-free loans in order to finance an extension to the pavilion.

The first few months of 2010 were cold and wet and the area once again became a building site, as the pavilion was extended by approximately one-third of its floor area. With the inclement weather and several setbacks, the green opening date was put back by one week, by which time the major part of the work was completed. With much nail-biting and a great deal of hard work by members, the extended pavilion was ready to accommodate the first touring team of the year in May, when over 50 people sat down to enjoy after-match refreshment.


Later in 2010, a mixed County team played a six-rink match against the Club to celebrate 25 years at Fishbourne.

Mixed county team
The SCWBA and SCBA Presidents with Club Captain Bernard Wallsgrove (left)
Club President Brian Henham (centre) and Club Ladies Captain Audrey Saunders (right)
at the match to celebrate 25 at Fishbourne

At the present time, the Club plays 65 friendly matches against other clubs, both home and away. We also enter the National Top Club; County Double Fours; Holbrook Cup; and the Midhurst Cup competitions.
Fishbourne won the Holbrook Cup in 2003 and 2004 and were runners-up in 2006. On the County scene, Marcellina Knott and Sonia Heil won the SCWBA Pairs in 1999 whilst the Fishbourne Ladies were runners-up in the SCWBA double fours in 2006.

Holbrook Cup winning team 2004

An internal league competition is held on Tuesday evenings throughout the season. We also play in the BM Mixed League, having been the prime mover in setting up the league a few years ago. Fishbourne won the Division 2 championship in 2011 and currently play in Division 1.

Three one-day internal competitions are held each season, together with eight knockout competitions.

The history of the Club is reflected in many of the trophies currently in use, as described below.


Finlayson Trophy:  A one-day competition for drawn two-wood pairs, the trophy was inaugurated in 1977 in memory of ‘Chiefy’ Finlayson, who bowled at Singleton from 1955 until his death in 1976.

Sparks & Pardoe Trophy:  A one-day competition for drawn rinks, the trophy was inaugurated in 1978 in memory of two former landlords of the Horse & Groom and Presidents of Singleton Bowling Club.

Captains Trophy:  A one-day competition for drawn triples, the trophy was formerly the Chairman’s Shield from the Singleton Club.

Captain v President Trophy:  Formerly the Captain’s Shield from the Singleton Club, the shield was presented by Percy Farmer in 1981. Percy was honorary green-keeper at Singleton and Captain for several seasons.

Mens’ Singles:  Formerly the Singleton Bowling Club Challenge Cup, the cup dates from at least 1955 and may well have been played for since the formation of the Club in 1933.

Two Woods:  Presented by W E (Bill) Smith (brother of ‘Chub’ Smith) in 1982. The runners-up trophy consists of two lignum woods owned by ‘Chiefy’ Finlayson which were mounted on a polished wooden base and presented by Jack Thompson in 1986.

Club Pairs:  Presented to the Singleton Club in 1972 by C E (Charlie) Smith.

Mixed Pairs:  Known as the Charles Smith Trophy, it was inaugurated in 1990 in memory of C E (Charlie) Smith MBE, DCM, Chairman at Singleton from 1978 to 1983 and the first President at Fishbourne from 1984 until his death in 1989.

Tony Conway Trophy:  Presented in 2001 by Stan Woodward (former Treasurer) and Brian Henham (former Match Secretary and later President) in memory of Tony Conway, much respected Club Captain and well-known local sportsman, who died in October 2000. The trophy is open to first-round losers in the Mens’ and Ladies Singles and is played as the best of three sets.