Fishbourne Bowling Club
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 old clubhouse 1999
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.

New clubhouse construction 2001
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.

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