Search

Club aims to expand membership

PUBLISHED: 12:48 08 May 2008 | UPDATED: 10:19 07 July 2010

Sculthorpe bowlers extend a welcome.

Sculthorpe bowlers extend a welcome.

Sculthorpe Bowls Club is aiming to reverse a trend of recently falling membership so that it can celebrate its 70th anniversary on its present ground next year as strong numerically, if not competitively, as it was a decade ago.

Sculthorpe Bowls Club is aiming to reverse a trend of recently falling membership so that it can celebrate its 70th anniversary on its present ground next year as strong numerically, if not competitively, as it was a decade ago.

It is a club where the green is in an area enclosed by a high brick wall that once surrounded a Victorian kitchen garden. It is acknowledged to be one of the most attractive settings of any club in Norfolk. Club chairman John Wilkinson thinks it is hidden gem of a club, unknown to many who are thinking of taking up the game, writes Peter Bird.

The club moved to its present home when the five-rink green was laid in 1938. In its inaugural season, 1939, one club tournament winner was Stanley Gathercole, grandfather of current member, David Gibson. It was the club's boast that they continued to play all through the second world war and therefore have an unbroken record of competition. But the club itself is far older. One photograph in the club records show more than 50 members in front of the clubhouse when the game was played on its previous ground behind the village's parish church in 1927.

Wilkinson, backed by secretary and treasurer Lorna Goodall and committee members Jane Smith, Peter Lloyd, David Gibson, David Rose, Phillip Walker and Brian Hinchcliffe, are keen to see the club regain the strength it had around a decade ago when it could boast among its membership senior international Chris Ward, and under-25 internationals Daniel Page and Neil Moulton. The club was then in Division One, but has now dropped down to Hansells' West Division Three of the County EBA League.

In the 1990s the bowls club, in a village with a population of less than 800, was strong enough to win the county triples and the Jermy Cup, as well as showing depth in strength by winning the county Burnham Cup. It was an era when Mary Negus was the county champion of champions and the men's triples and the ladies' fours teams made it through to All-England finals. Today their lone leading light is Matthew Wilkinson, who won the Yarmouth Open under-25 singles title two years ago and reached the EBF finals at Skegness last year.

The green, re-laid in 1956/57 by a trio of David Gibson's grandfather, father and George Greeves, was looking rather the worse for wear after 50 years of service so was completely re-seeded last year at a cost of around £2,000. The club can now boast a top-class playing surface much used by the current membership of around 40.

The club competes in the county triples and Whissonsett mixed triples leagues, as well as the Hansells' county league. It has a range of friendly fixtures and a club night every Saturday evening.

“Membership has dropped off a bit despite such an attractive setting, friendly members and a larger than average clubhouse with, unlike most outdoor bowls clubs, a fully licensed bar,” said Wilkinson, who is especially keen to attract younger members. Playing or social membership is open to all.

More details can be obtained from Lorna Goodall 01328 823504.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Fakenham and Wells Times

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists