In the beginning, as all good stories start, was a discussion by local folk interested in finding a place to play bowls – and that was in February 1928.
The Story spans the years of dedicated effort by its members who continue to volunteer their precious time, year on year, their professional trades and management skills in maintaining the Green and Club House.
It talks of the members and their playing achievement, in the Sport of bowls, in Middlesex and Hertfordshire.
Enjoy reading ‘Ends without End’ – for the whole story.
‘ENDS’ WITHOUT END
A HISTORY OF POTTERS BAR BOWLS CLUB 1929-2003
The years 1929-1989. Written by Jim Sales. Edited by Desmond Morse.
The years 1989-2003. Written by Graham Marriner.
Jim Sales thanks Mr. & Mrs. Desmond Morse and Mrs. June Hake for their help in compiling the years 1929-1989.
Graham Marriner thanks Bob Whittle for his valuable contribution to the years 1989-2000.
There comes a time in life when the past seems to take on greater significance than hitherto, creating a desire to discover origins and establish roots. A similar urge must have been felt by Jim Sales when he undertook the daunting task of distilling from sixty years of records, a history of Potters Bar Bowls Club, appropriately for publication in this Diamond Jubilee year.
‘ENDS’ WITHOUT END effectively traces the ongoing story of the foresight, tenacity and endeavour of members from all walks of life who have, in many varied ways, professionally, financially and otherwise, contributed by giving of their time and expertise to the formation and development of the Club; from its struggling birth in 1929 to its present successful and thriving state. As all of this service was voluntary, credit is liberally given throughout the text to individuals who made contributions of note. There is, however, one name understandably omitted; that of Jim Sales himself.
This history would be incomplete without a tribute to the unique part Jim has played in the management and development of the Club, For the past thirty years he has served continuously on the Management Committee; five as President: fourteen as Chairman; one as Captain and nineteen as a Trustee of the Club. These statistics give only an inkling of the influence he has had on the Club during his long years of service: a service which is unlikely to be surpassed. In 1983 he was presented with an inscribed Silver Salver to mark his twenty-five years on Committee.
In response, and true to his devotion to the Club, he presented the JIM SALES SALVER, to be awarded annually, not for a new competition, but to that bowler with the best record in match-play for the Club throughout the year.
Members are all aware of the debt of gratitude we owe him for his past service, Now that his talents have been extended to authorship; we are further indebted to him for what must be his crowning achievement, namely, the writing and publications of this history of the Club. As a result, members, I am sure, will now be more aware and appreciative of the work and dedication of those members in the past who founded and built up the Club which we have inherited and now enjoy. Hopefully it will also encourage present members to continue the development of the Club in keeping with the times, so that it may continue to provide the social and sporting facility of Bowls, which it has done so well for the past sixty years, within the community of Potters Bar.
WHY A HISTORY?
This brief history has been produced to mark Potters Bar Bowls Club’s Diamond Jubilee in 1989. By any standards, sixty years is a long time for a club to remain in existence. When a club, after that length of time can also claim to be successful and thriving – as Potters Bar can – then there is a double cause for celebration.
Writing the Club’s history provides an opportunity to recognize the work of those members both who laid the foundations of the Club in its formative years and who contributed to its later growth; their successors owe them a considerable debt of gratitude.
One more thing might perhaps be mentioned here. Anyone setting out to write the history of a sixty-year-old club faces a fundamental difficulty; it is extremely unlikely that any of the founding or early members will still be around to tell the tale! This is certainly largely true of the present history. Denied therefore the benefit of members’ personal recollections of the Club’s origins and early days (apart from those of the then very young Jim Catchpole). I have had to delve into its surviving written records (mainly Minutes of Committee meetings) in order to weave my story. Indeed, my reliance on documentary material has had to cover a significant part of the Club’s affairs.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
The Club’s first Annual Report provides some information about how it came into being. The Report is somewhat light on detail, but it appears that preliminary discussions started in February. 1928. However, it was not until a full year later, in February 1929 that a public meeting was held at which it was decided firmly to proceed with the formation of the Club.
A suitable piece of land was identified (the same site the Club occupies to this day) adjoining the Cricket Club in The Walk, Mr. Tilbury, a well-known local figure, owned the freehold, and the Club began negotiations to obtain a lease.
The Club’s appointed Trustees were not however able speedily to agree terms with Mr. Tilbury’s solicitors. To enable matters to proceed, pending the successful conclusion of negotiations for a full lease. Mr. Tilbury agreed to the Club initially taking a yearly tenancy.
Work on the Green started in November. 1929; and it was ready for opening on 4th June, 1930 by when the Club had thirty-eight paid-up members. Even at this early stage in the Club’s history, a handicap competition was held. The winner received a pair of woods presented by Mr. Hunt of Barnet who I am sure was the well-known retailer of leather goods and a saddler. Five matches were played during the season, all of which were lost but the following paragraph in the Annual Report showed optimism:
“Figures are not available, as apparently some rinks tore up their score cards, but so rapidly was the margin of defeat narrowing that it is mathematically certain that, with another match, would have been ours”
The first recorded Minutes of a Club Committee meeting are dated 3rd December 1930. At that meeting, Mr. H.J. Butcher (manager of Barclays Bank in the High Street and a well-known local historian) was voted to the Chair; Mr. J.C.Brighwell was elected Secretary; and Mr.H.R.Pluck Treasurer; other members present were Messrs W Smith, F.Munro and F. Worboys.
Negotiations over the signing of the lease became very protracted. The main complication appeared to be that the Club’s Trustees, Mr. H. Butcher, Mr. R. Knighton and Dr. Hayes, were also the Trustees of the Cricket Club, and Mr. Tilbury (who also owned the land occupied by the Cricket Club) objected that, in that capacity they had given an undertaking not to increase their responsibilities by acquiring further land.
However, resolution seemed to be in sight when the matter was discussed at a Special General Meeting held at the village Hall (at the end of Cotton Road, now occupied by the British Legion) on 22nd April, 1931. It was reported that Mr. Tilbury had suggested that the Trustees, in representing the interests of the Bowls Club, should take only that piece of ground in which the Club was directly interested that is, the Green itself. It was expected that this technicality would enable the lease to be agreed within a few days. It was not to be, however; and the Club received a shock when a letter was later received from Mr. Tilbury in July stating that he was not happy with some of the proposed terms and was not therefore willing to sign the lease. At the Committee meeting called to discuss the situation, feelings ran high. Mr. Fluck resigned as Treasurer, saying that, in the belief that the lease would be granted, he had worked hard to increase membership of the Club.
He believed that an apology was due to him from Mr. Tilbury, since he had been made to appear guilty of misleading members by a mis-statement of facts regarding the lease. Mr. Tilbury, who was present, refused to apologize and left the meeting. However, there was evidently no irrevocable rift, because discussions continued.
The problem over dual-trusteeship was eventually removed by the Club’s original Trustees’ decision to resign, following legal advice. Messrs J. W. Catchpole, H. Tolman and F. Jarvis were duly elected to succeed them. And finally, following many meetings between Mr. Tilbury and the Club’s Officers, at a further Special General Meeting on 22nd April, 1932, Mr. Cutting – the Chairman – informed the meeting that a lease would be granted and the terms had been virtually agreed. Mr. Tilbury was thereupon thanked for his practical and financial assistance. The lease, at an annual rental of £12 was signed by the end of the year. It ran for an initial term of twenty-one years, with an optional extension for the same length of time.
THE CLUB GETS INTO ITS STRIDE
With the problems over the lease resolved, it was now evident that the enthusiasm of the founder Committee members was beginning to bear fruit and the Club’s efforts became concentrated on the game itself, and on a drive to recruit additional members. In pursuit of these aims, Mr. W. Smith presented a cup for a singles championship; Mr. J. Stockall presented a shield for competition; and advertisements for new members appeared in the “Barnet Press” and the “Baptist Messenger”.
Enjoying its new security of tenure, the Club also lost no time in erecting its first Pavilion; this was provided in fact by the following season’s Opening Day – 29th April, 1933. The cost has not been recorded, but it will have undoubtedly put a strain on the limited finances of the still fledgling Club. But it was an act of faith and confidence in the future. The Committee recorded their thanks to Mr. J.W.Barker (grandfather of Philip Barker, a playing member of today’s Club) for his “unremitting efforts in the erection of the Pavilion”.
Although finances were very low at this time. the generosity of some members ensured that the Club was still able to operate: Mr. Barker offered to pay off the bank overdraft of £84.19s.ld: Mr. F.Jarvis offered to settle the rent arrears (later in 1933. as Club President, he made a further gift of £50); and three members, who wished to remain anonymous, offered to pay the rent for five years. In addition. Mr. Tilbury made a loan to the Club of £135.19s.6d at 2% interest.
By 1934 a great deal was happening.
Application for affiliation to the MCBA (Middlesex County Bowling Association) was made, and granted. The first Club delegates to be appointed to the MCBA were Mr. Jarvis and Mr. Brightwell. In the same year a member offered to defray the cost of construction of the north and south banks of the Green; and the Club undertook to complete the east and west sides to conform to County requirements, at a cost of not more than £9.10s.0d.
Two new cups were inaugurated: Mr. Chris Day. the proprietor of the Barnet Cinema – now occupied by a super-market in the High Street – presented a silver cup (the “Chris Day Cup”, after its donor) for competition between Barnet, East Barnet and Potters Bar Clubs; and a cup was also presented by Mr. Hicks for a singles’ competition (twenty-one points, four woods). Mr. Hicks expressed a wish that the first member to win the cup three times – not necessarily consecutively – should hold the cup for good. The two cups are still competed for today, and very hand-some cups they are.
There was only space for eight name-plates on the shield presented earlier by Mr. Stockall and it was therefore decided that the member who won it most times by the end of the first eight seasons should retain it permanently. Membership had increased rapidly by now so much so that it was decided to limit the numbers to one hundred. The original Green Committee was abolished and Mr. J. W. Catchpole was appointed Green Ranger.
The following year, 1935, saw the first five-rink match against East Herts. Vice Presidents’ Association – an 18-end evening match. The Club, although Potters Bar was then in Middlesex, decided to apply for affiliation to the Herts. County Bowling Association but was informed that this matter could only be decided by the EBA (English Bowling Association). The latter body ruled that a club could not affiliate outside its County boundaries.
There was a substantial increase in the number of matches being played by this time, and in 1936 forty-four games were played, and fixtures included the familial names of Friary Park, Grovelands and Finchley Victoria.
The generosity of the President, Mr. F. Jarvis, was again evident in this year when he undertook to bear the cost of the construction of a glass-covered verandah to be erected in front of the Pavilion, so as to enable meals to be taken in more pleasant surroundings and to permit visitors to view play in poor weather. A Sub-Committee comprising Messrs Pearson, Monro and Brightwell, was formed to assist Mr. Jarvis in an advisory capacity, but there is no record of the verandah’s construction. The Hicks Cup, mentioned previously, was won in 1937 by Mr. Larcombe for the third time, and he therefore won the right to retain the cup as his own. Mr. Larcombe however expressed his intention to hand the cup back to the Club, to be played for annually as a perpetual trophy. This was a very generous gesture by a very popular member and a fine bowler.
In the late 1930s, ladies were pressing strongly for playing membership of the Club, but their application was refused on the grounds that there were no “retiring rooms” for ladies.
At a Committee meeting in June, 1938, the possibility of laying down Cumberland turf for the Green was first discussed, and a Special General Meeting was held on 23 August, 1938, to obtain members’ views on how such a project might be financed. It was agreed, after a long discussion, that an appeal should be made to members for loans; and one hundred leaflets were accordingly printed and despatched to members.
By the next committee meeting in September, £280 had been received; and at the Annual General Meeting in October, 1938, members voted unanimously for the project to go ahead, against a tender from Messrs Hart at a price of £536. Work commenced immediately, and the new Green was completed by Opening Day, 1939. This act of faith was well justified, for by this time the sums loaned by members had risen to a total of £538!
Considering the marvelous response by members to the appeal for loans to finance the scheme and the watchful eye kept by Committee members on the leveling of the Green, it is surprising that there does not appear to be any mention in Minutes of how the Green played on Opening Day. Equally surprisingly, there is also an absence of recorded comment on the general appearance of the site – which must have been greatly improved, as Mr. J.W.Catchpole supplied bedding plants along with others which were purchased, as were four dozen rose bushes. On a personal note, there is an interesting item in the Minutes of a Committee meeting on 18th April, 1939; a letter was read from Mr. J.S. (Jim) Catchpole thanking member for their gift on the occasion of his marriage to Margaret. (So, it is not only the Club that has had an anniversary to celebrate in 1989!)
At the same meeting Mr. Jarvis again made a generous offer in expressing a wish that a loan of £200 he had previously made to the Club should be considered as a gift.
A new Rule was instituted by the Committee at the Annual General Meeting on 4th November. 1939, regarding the admission of new members. That Rule, in principle, still exists today and is still Rule 13.*
THE WAR YEARS, 1939-1945
The Annual General Meeting in November, 1939, was the first full meeting of members following the outbreak of War, Much discussion naturally took place on the Club’s future activities in the light of the new circumstances.
Immediate decisions were:
– Only twelve matches to be arranged.
– No annual dinner to take place during the War years.
– Expenditure to be kept to a minimum.
– One copy only of the Rules to be printed, and posted on the notice board.
– No fixture cards to be printed.
– A simple membership card only to be issued to members.
At that stage, recommendations from the EBA and MCBA regarding County matches and competitions were still awaited with interest.
Under War conditions, particularly following the fall of France in 1940, peace time pursuits naturally took a back seat. The first priority was the National effort and this left limited time for other things. None the less, in spite of all the problems and difficulties, some dedicated members kept things ticking over so that the Club would be in a state of readiness to resume full activities once the War had ended.
As time went on there was a decrease in membership, due no doubt to members’ other preoccupations, such as fire-watching duties. Home Guard and so on. The drop in membership and restriction of social activities of course meant a fall in income. Indeed. Club finances became a cause of concern, and the services of the Greenkeeper could not be retained after August. 1940.
One impact on the Club’s site brought about by the War was that seed potatoes, given by Mr. W. Field, were planted around the borders in place of plants as a small effort in the “Dig for Victory” campaign. In 1941, Club finances continued to be a source of worry to the Committee, and to help matters cash prizes presented to winners of competitions were all returned by the recipients, Mr. Jarvis again demonstrated his generosity, and paid off the Club’s £15 overdraft at the bank.
* The current Rule 13 says; ‘The admission of new members, both Playing and Social, shall be subject to election by the Committee after the name and address has been exhibited on the Club Notice Board for two consecutive weeks together with the names of the Proposer and Seconder who must have been Playing Members of the Club for at least 12 months. Elections after 1st March are subject to payment of Subscriptions and Entrance Fees within 21 days.”
In this year Mr. Jarvis also presented the Club with a silver cup, to be competed for annually by Northaw & Cuffley, North Mymms and Potters Bar Clubs, and the Rules of Competition were the same as those operating today.
At the Annual General Meeting on 25 October, 1941, members were told that Mr. Tilbury had offered the Club the tenancy of the adjoining field (believed to be the ground now occupied by the Gas Board), but it was felt that the Club had financial difficulties enough without committing itself further in the prevailing conditions, It was therefore agreed that Mr. Tilbury should be asked if he would hold his offer over until circumstances were more favourable.
It was not surprising that the War was causing problems in every club or society, and the Bowls Club was no exception. Although by 1942 Club finances had improved to the point at which it was again possible to employ a Greenkeeper, members had to revert to cutting the Green by voluntary effort when he was called up to work on munitions. Around this time, membership had fallen to forty-two, but all matches and competitions were completed on the dates arranged; and (a sign of the times) a match was also played against the Home Guard. The 1942 Annual General Meeting was attended by thirty members, and Mr. Jarvis, on being elected President, spoke of the game being of great benefit to members under difficult circumstances.
By 1943, the Club – like many clubs – having undergone a long period of adaptation, was settling down to organizing its events under War conditions: difficulties of course continued, but more matches were played (twenty-seven were arranged for the season) and the Club won both the “Jarvis” and the “Chris Day” Cups. Spoon drives were also held in aid of the local hospitals and children’s homes, when various articles were sold by auction. However, because of traveling difficulties, it was decided not to submit entries for County competitions.
Individual members continued to contribute in various ways to the Club’s development: Mr. Hayward made a gift to the Club of a fine copper teapot (which gave magnificent service and was used extensively until 1984, when it was considered too heavy for the ladies to handle, given that over a hundred cups of tea would often be served in the course of one afternoon); Mr. Partridge presented a silver cup to the Club, to be competed for annually in a handicap competition; and Mr. Troake presented a silver cup with the original idea that there should be a competition for rinks, in order to improve rink play.
At the 1943 Annual General Meeting, Mr. H. Rodwell decided not to stand for reelection as Secretary, a post he had held for seven years. He was thanked for his excellent services and presented with a sum of money subscribed by members.
The keenness of members wishing to serve the Club is reflected by the report in the Minutes that nine names were put forward for five vacancies on the Committee. For the first time since the Club’s formation, serious friction between the President and some Committee members is revealed at the Committee meeting in April. 1944. As a result. Mr. Jarvis the President, after expressing certain criticisms unhappily resigned from membership, and said that he wished to have no further connection with the Club, The meeting was resumed one week later, when the Committee did not support Mr.Jarvis’s views, and decided to call an emergency meeting of all members to inform them of the situation. When this took place, a vote of confidence in the Committee was passed unanimously by the meeting. The Secretary was instructed to write to Mr. Jarvis accepting his resignation with regret, and thanking him for his past services and generosity to the Club.
This was a sad ending to Mr. Jarvis’s devoted service to the Club over a period of nearly fifteen years, which – along with his numerous generous donations to the Club – had always been appreciated by members.
Functions in aid of charity have always been a feature of the Club’s activities and these were apparent during the War years. As an example, a charity match was arranged for 9th September. 1944, with the local Council, then the Potters Bar UDC when most – if not all – of the members were local residents, as were most of the staff. The chosen charity was, appropriately, St. Dunstan’s. The Council, local traders, and other well-wishers, all helped the Club to publicize the event. Posters were printed locally, and others were obtained from St. Dunstan’s for display in local shops. The Ritz Cinema, then situated on the site now occupied by Tesco’s also publicized the event on screen for two days free of charge; a painting of the “Blinded Soldier” was displayed in The Walk; and at strategic points in the district signs were displayed; “To The Bowling Club”. Members were generous in giving up their rations, and general support was excellent. Everyone’s efforts were eventually rewarded, and a sum of £100 was made on the day; a praiseworthy endeavour.
A number of Vice Presidents were elected at this time both playing and non-playing members, but at the Annual General Meeting in October. 1944 members voted against the election of non-playing Vice Presidents.
At this meeting, Mr. Tilbury, our landlord, offered the Club, rent-free, the piece of ground adjoining the Green and next to The Walk which was then occupied by an agricultural camp. The Committee met Mr. Tilbury at a special meeting to discuss this generous offer, when it became clear that he was taking a long-term view of the matter, as it would be some years before the land became available. However, Mr. Tilbury was keen to ensure that the land should be used for bowls, rather than any other purpose. Indeed, at a further meeting it transpired that Mr. Tilbury had it in mind to offer the Club the freehold, and he outlined the action he thought the Club might take. This included;
– The laying of another green.
– The erection of a pavilion large enough to accommodate a two-rink indoor bowling green.
– A hall for meetings and social events, provided with kitchen, dressing rooms, toilets etc.
The cost was estimated to be in the region of £5.000 and Mr. Tilbury undertook to be responsible for £1.000 of the capital required if the above scheme were adopted. The Committee met to consider the above proposal and after lengthy discussion in which some members doubled the wisdom of committing the Club to such liabilities, it was decided to ask the Secretary to draft of letter for the Committee approval, containing the following proposals:
– The land should be used not only as a bowling green, but also – if desired – as a putting green, or croquet lawn.
– The bowling green should be laid as soon as the ground was available and the Club was in a financial position to do so.
– The Club should erect a pavilion as soon as circumstances permitted.
The letter was approved and sent to Mr. Tilbury. But although discussions continued for some time – they went on, in fact, until 1946, or thereabouts – the Club never obtained access to this additional land.
Membership during the latter War years was very low, and various ways and means of attracting new members were discussed, including advertising on the Ritz Cinema screen. However, apart from the unavoidable difficulties under War-time conditions already mentioned, the Minutes reveal no serious problems in this period, apart from the occasional request for rationed commodities to assist in catering. While the Club was apparently not exactly flush with funds, even the financial situation had come to be considered as satisfactory: the £130 still owing to loan holders was repaid, and the Club started the 1945 season £136 in credit. It appears, though, that replicas of cups or plaques were still unobtainable, and cash prizes were being presented to winners of the various competitions.
With the end of hostilities in Europe in May, and soon afterwards in the Far East in August, 1945, the Club organized two spoon drives to celebrate the Allied victories. A more ambitious event (mentioned below) was envisaged for later on.
So, the War period ended in reasonable order so far as the Club was concerned. The considerable efforts made by so many members to hold things together had paid off and the Club was placed in a reasonable position to get quickly into its post-war stride.
PEACE AGAIN – EARLY POST-WAR YEARS
Although the Chairman, Mr.Stapleton, suggested a Victory Dinner in 1946 to celebrate the end of the 1939-45 War, similar to one held at the Salisbury Hotel, Barnet, by the Barnet Club, that hotel turned out to be fully booked- Unfortunately, no venue in Potters Bar could accommodate the numbers it was expected would attend, so the Club’s plans for this event were eventually thwarted.
It was hoped by the Club that, during this year, the printing of fixture cards could be resumed, as in pre-War years. (The price quoted for cards was £5.5s.0d. for seventy-five.)
In this first post-War season, County competitions were in full swing again and in addition to singles’ entries, the Club also entered two single rinks and one double rink. A match with the local Council was also arranged, with the proviso that a food permit could be obtained from the Food Office. Knowing a little about the issuing of food permits, I am sure this was no problem!
A Gala Day was also arranged, 1946 austerity-style, but with the attendant restrictions lessened by the helpfulness and generosity of a number of people. The Green was divided into five rinks for bowling competitions, each with a prize of 5s.* There was an entrance fee of 3d.* for each competition for every attempt, Donations of l0s each were received from Messrs Tolman and Ben Collings, and 5s from Mr. W Larcombe. Various side-shows were arranged, and crockery and cutlery items hired from Mr. Tilbury.
Negotiations with Mr. Tilbury over the piece of land between the Green and The Walk, begun in 1944, were continuing, but after a further meeting between the Secretary, Mr.Pearson, and Mr. Tilbury, no tangible result was achieved: and there the matter came finally to rest.
At the November 1946 Annual General Meeting, Mr. Bert Hayward presented the Club with a silver cup – to be known as the “Hayward Cup” for a pairs’ competition, to be competed for annually. This was a further example of the generosity of Bert Hayward. Who had made several gifts to the Club in previous years.
Damage to the Green by rabbits – the four-legged ones! – was causing concern early in the 1947 season, and wire netting was suggested to eradicate this nuisance. Mr. J Medlock presented a silver cup to the Club, and it was proposed that it should be competed for annually in two-woods, singles’ competition of fifteen ends. Plans went ahead immediately to invite entries on these lines, at an entrance fee of 1s.
It seems hard to believe, but it is nevertheless true that in 1947 the EBA borrowed from the Club the metal score-stands – which we discarded ourselves a few years ago, for use at Mortlake for the EBA finals, and sent the carrier £1. 0s. 0d for delivering and returning them.
In 1948 the question of concrete edging around the Green was discussed, as it was noticed that any wood reaching to within a foot of the ditch was bound to roll in and become ‘dead’. The Green Ranger. Mr. Willis offered to deal with this problem and was warmly thanked for his generous offer. The estimated cost (based on 180 yards of edging. 1% inches thick x 5 inches deep x 4 feet long, at 1s. 11d per yard dimensions which will interest ‘metric’ youngsters), was £17.5s.0d. The work was completed in time for the opening of the 1948 season, and the whole Green was then reported to be in first-class condition. This was a relief to all concerned following criticism by bowlers visiting the Club during the previous season to play in County competitions.
Conditions in general were noticeably improving in these immediate post- War years. A pleasing event was the Club’s success in winning the Jarvis Cup, It afterwards arranged a celebration match with North Mymms and Northaw & Cuffley followed by a supper at which presentation of the cup took place.
* For the benefit of younger readers. 5s = 25p in decimal currency and 3d = 1.25p!
The Annual Dinner was also resumed and held at the Brookmans Park Hotel tickets were priced at 12s.6d.
In the following year (1949) Jim Catchpole was selected to play for Middlesex against Norfolk, and the Committee expressed their great satisfaction at this selection. The late1940’s turned out to be a very important period for the Club in securing the future of its site.
At some stage, Mr. Tilbury expressed anxiety that the Club would eventually come under the control of the LPTB (London Passenger Transport Board), who had been granted permission to use our Green for inter-garage matches and competitions, but he was assured by a Club deputation that there was no likelihood of this happening. This fear was in any case dispelled when the LPTB later notified the Secretary that they would not require the use of the Green from 1950 onward.
Then, with that hurdle overcome, a more fundamental development occurred. At a Committee meeting on 18th August, 1950, the Secretary informed the Committee that an area of land adjoining the hospital, owned by Mr. Tilbury, which included the bowling Green and cricket field, had been given by him to the North West Regional Hospital Board. This information was gleaned from the local press and was a shock to all concerned, but was later confirmed to be a fact.
In these changed circumstances, following further correspondence between the Secretary and Mr. Tilbury on renewal of the lease, it was agreed that all future negotiations should be between the Hospital Board and Club representatives. At this stage, Mr. L.W.Brown – then one of the Trustees – suggested that Mr. Male, a local solicitor, should act on behalf of the Club. This he did, and eventually the Hospital Board offered the Club a lease for an initial three-year term, renewable on a yearly basis, at an annual rental of £12. Mr. Brown was evidently not satisfied with this proposal, and due largely to his efforts, the Board eventually offered the Club a twenty-one year lease, again at a rent of £12 per annum.
Two major points were discussed at a Special General Meeting regarding the ‘Future of the Club’ before the signing of the new lease. These were whether it should contain clauses to allow:
- The sale of intoxicating liquor.
- Sunday play.
There was general agreement to allow for Sunday play, but it was decided to hold a referendum to establish members’ views regarding item 1. Members returned sixty-nine of the ninety notices that were sent out and of these a clear majority some 70% were in favour. In view of this result, a Wine Committee (comprising Messrs L. Leake, T Martin, W. Pond and J. Catchpole) was appointed to organize the fitting of a bar and to fix the hours of opening.
The Hospital Board proved ready to incorporate the two clauses above in the new lease, and this was eventually signed on 3rd February 1951.
DECKS CLEARED – FULL STEAM AHEAD
So, by the early 1950s, with a long-term lease signed and settled and membership standing at a healthy seventy-one, the Club was able to plan a programme of activities with confidence. As allowed by the lease, the Bar was brought into operation, and Sunday matches were now being arranged (play was permitted after twelve noon).
The Club badge, which had been the subject of discussion over a long period, was put on view for members, and all were very satisfied with the design.
At the Committee meeting on 27th November, 1952, the Secretary reported that the Club had been elected to membership of the F&DBA (Finchley and District Bowling* Association), Mr. W. Pond attended the Association’s meetings as a delegate; and the Club competed in the League the next season.
Jim Catchpole and Norman Bennett were now being selected regularly for County games; and Jim and Bob Leake reached the quarter finals in the County Pairs. The social activities of the Club were very much in evidence in these years. Reports show that the Annual Dinner was regularly well supported by members, and one hundred and twenty was an average attendance figure. Whist drives were held during winter months in the Village Hall and the “Winter Club” held many fund-raising functions – very necessary, as Club funds were low. The whist drives were exceptionally well-attended; over thirty tables were in use on most occasions, and one week a profit of £16.4s.0d was made – a lot of money at the time. (The Club’s seriousness about all this was demonstrated by the fact that it invested in twenty packs of cards!).
The Minutes of the Committee meetings and Annual General Meeting indicate that things were now running very smoothly. Members were very keen to maintain and improve the general appearance of the Club. Typifying this spirit, two members made a gift of sufficient privet plants to renew the north side hedge, and the Club provided a further one hundred and fifty plants to renew the west side.
Obtaining a drinks licence had proved to be an excellent move and the Bar was now a popular addition to the Club, Terry Martin, the first Bar Chairman, was an enthusiastic and popular member who, with his Bar Committee (Bob Leake. Bill Harman and Jim Catchpole), worked up many a thirst in their efforts to ensure that the Bar was a financial and social success.
The F&DBA requested use of the Green for a six-rink match in July. 1955 and permission was readily given. In 1956 the Club accepted an invitation from the same Association to participate in a Bannerette (for the uninitiated, a pennant awarded to the winning side) game and this 18-end event took place on Friday evening. 17 July. A new competition was organized this year, thanks to the generosity of Bert Sawyer, who presented a silver cup to the Club to be called the “Sawyer Cup” and played for in a three-woods, point’s competition.
This year, too, the Club won the Jarvis Cup; and also retained the Cup he following year, 1957.
Following a visit to the Club by Mr. Lappage, the County President, it was hinted for the first time that our Green might soon be the scene of a County match. A compliment, indeed, for Bert Tolman, Wally Claydon and Peter Osborne, who had put in many hours of hard labour to bring the Green to such a recognized level of excellence.
Of seventy-one playing members at this time, forty-nine shared in match-playing during the season, a satisfyingly high proportion.
In 1958, the Club was awarded a County Bannerette game, and we did well to beat the County side by forty-two shots. The County side included their President and other County celebrities, who all spoke highly of our Green and our facilities in general.
1959 saw the first visit of the “Neuters” (a County group), captained by Mr. Lappage. The Club was now really on the bowls map, with the County and F&DBA regularly applying for use of our Green for matches. Bob Leake, Jim Catchpole and Bill Pond had become regular members of the County team, and more of our members were entering County competitions.
On the suggestion of Terry Martin, a letter was sent to the BBC and ITV suggesting that County match on our Green be televised, but alas this could not be arranged. With Terry Martin as President in 1959, it was to be expected that improvements in the Club’s facilities would be in the forefront of his efforts during his year of office. Improvements to the Bar and Kitchen were agreed, and to meet the cost of the work an appeal to members for interest-free loans in units of £l raised £184. These enhancements, plus new floor covering and wallpaper, gave the Pavilion a new look, much appreciated by members.
A piece in the “Barnet Press” of 24th June, 1959, suggested that land adjoining the hospital, which included that occupied by the Club, would soon be surplus to the formers requirements. Enquiries were made to the Hospital Board about the possibility of the Club acquiring the freehold interest in our site, but the Board’s response was that it had no immediate intention of disposing of the land.
The Club Pavilion suffered severe damage by fire on the night of Wednesday 10th August, 1959, and even more serious damage was prevented only by the prompt action of John Martin (son of Terry) and Ivan Evans, a member, when they sighted smoke and flames coming from the Club premises.
The job of repairing the damage caused by the fire was given to two members, Bert Sawyer and George David. Bert was a local builder, and George a first-class ‘chippie’. In the event, they not only repaired the damage but extended the Pavilion and Bar; and what is more carried out the work expeditiously. Both gave their services free and were warmly thanked for their efforts to get the premises back into use again so quickly.
Even with essential restoration completed, much work remained to be done; renewal of Honours Boards; sixty-three new lockers to be assembled; and general cleaning of the premises. Members responded magnificently to a call for volunteers, I can personally vouch for this as 1960 was the first occasion on which I had the honour of being elected President.
The restored new-look Pavilion was much appreciated by members and visitors alike, and support for all Club activities was most encouraging, Terry Martin and Bill Harman were two members who notably worked hard to foster a friendly spirit among all sections of the Club.
The Green on match days was always full to capacity, and indeed it was not always possible to accommodate all who wished to play. Certain clubs were eventually contacted with a view to arranging three-rink matches, home and away on the same day, so leaving members three rinks for spoon drives, or “roll-ups”. The clubs responded positively, and the resulting arrangement proved a satisfactory solution.
The increase in the number of matches played necessitated the formation of a Catering Committee, and happily there was no difficulty in enlisting ladies to carry out the important function of satisfying the ‘inner man*!
On the social side, winter events proved so popular that stag parties and dances were held at the Robin Hood Hotel,
Another trophy was presented to the Club in 1962 by Councillor Jack Jones, to be known as the “Jones Cup”, and to be competed for annually by members of sixty-five years of age and over, subject to numbers being available – something which has never been a problem in practice.
Application for affiliation to the London and Southern Counties Bowling Association was made (and granted) in 1963 but support from members was disappointing due mostly to distance of travel.
Extensive drainage work was carried out on the Green at the close of the 1963 season under the supervision of Nev Mathews, Green Ranger, and always a Club enthusiast. Six slit-trenches were dug to a depth of two feet on the east side of the Green, and drains were laid to take water first into the ditch and then into a sump, dug out in the road near the entrance gate. It was all very much a team effort; the digging of the ditch and sump was carried out by Italian labourers, supplied by Nev Matthews; the turfs were expertly cut out and re-laid by Mick Connolly our Greenkeeper and the digging of the trenches was the responsibility of Club members, in the guise of temporary labourers, who – on Sundays – after some hard ‘graft, in between numerous cups of tea and a final drink at the Bar walked home a little weary, but with a healthy appetite for their usual ‘roast’, well-satisfied with a good morning’s work well done. The work was completed by the end of November after which Sunday mornings seemed very dull! An electric pump was necessary to empty the sump periodically and this was loaned to the Club by Claude Beaton.
With the increase in membership, additional matches and competitions, there was inevitably ever-increasing work to be borne by the Officers of the Club. It is always difficult to pick out certain individuals from a willing band of helpers, but there are some names from this period that I feel must be mentioned:
Wally Pulford, Secretary 1957-1966, who walked miles during his period of office to deliver correspondence to members. His reports were always correct in detail and interesting; a cheerful and lovable character. Bob Leake was a strict disciplinarian, particularly in green etiquette, but he was always willing to assist members at every opportunity. Indeed, there are members in the Club today who have benefited from the knowledge and experience they gained from Bob. Bob was awarded his County Badge in 1961 and was Club President in 1966. Arthur Palmer, Treasurer 1964-1976. As one would expect from an accountant of Arthur’s standing, he served the Club well. A terrific asset to the Club, particularly during the period of the introduction of VAT, He was Club President in 1972. Reg Russell, Secretary 1968-1971; a Committee member for many years, during which his contribution to debate was always constructive.
The Club won the Jarvis Cup again in 1965. This was also a peak year for Reg Griffiths, when he won the Hicks Cup, Club Championship, Sawyer Cup and Lewin Shield. Not bad for a single season!
The year 1966 marked a change in Club policy, when applications from six ladies for playing membership were accepted, under certain conditions.
In that year, the then recent Government revision of county boundaries caused some concern to the Committee regarding the impact on bowling clubs and, in reply to a letter by the Secretary to the EBA, the EBA ruled that “we continue as in former years, with the boundaries as they have been for the last fifty years, and you are still in the County of Middlesex”.
The Committee, always alive to the necessity of improvements to the Club premises, appointed a sub-committee to examine the situation and submit proposals.
Those put forward, and accepted, were:
Improved changing accommodation for home and visiting players; provision of a general store and bar store; an extended, modernized kitchen; and an extension to the Greenkeeper’s shed. The cost was estimated at £750.
It was agreed that, on completion of the above work, it would be necessary to provide new furnishings such as chairs, tables and floor coverings, plus a new score board; and that this should be done, within a total cost limit of £1,000. The construction work was carried out by Mr. Walter Cook, who was both a member and a local builder of distinction. On completion of the main structural alterations, the installation of new electrical fittings, and the purchase of new furniture, much voluntary work, such as decorating, was still necessary in order to finalize the facilities; and the ‘two Claudes’ (Messrs Beaton and Sirey) were specially thanked for their efforts during the whole operation. To add to this list of improvements, a new score board, complete with numbers, was made and erected by Dennis Holland, and his work was much admired both by members and visitors.
Wally Pulford’s services to the Club have already been mentioned. His resignation as Secretary after ten years’ service was received with regret at the 1966 Annual General Meeting. The meeting passed a warm and unanimous vote of thanks for the very great services he had rendered to the Club.
The highlight of the 1967 season was our hosting of the six-rink match between the F&DBA and the EBA to celebrate the formers twenty-first anniversary. The Club was complimented on the organization which ensured such a successful day.
The enthusiasm of members for the entire Club’s activities was reflected in the attendance of two hundred members and friends at the Annual Dinner, a record attendance.
In 1968 the Club through the SDC (Sports Development Council), made enquiries about the possibility of indoor bowls in Potters Bar. The response from the Eastern Counties SDC was that grants would only be available to counties where no indoor rinks already existed; and Potters Bar did not therefore qualify for a grant.
This year, Jim Catchpole and Reg Griffiths were again selected for the County, and Reg received his full County Badge. A further success was that a rink composed of Bob Leake, Nev Mathews. Claude Beaton and Jim Wickens won the Coronation Cup at the Friary Park Invitation Day a popular event to which the Club is always invited.
Among everything else, attention had also to be paid in this period to renewal of the Club’s lease, somewhat in advance of its expiry date in order to secure the Club’s long-term tenure. This was important in view of major Club developments already then being mooted. After prolonged negotiations, solicitors Male & Wagland, acting on the Club’s behalf, informed us that a new twenty-one year lease had been drafted, and was ready for signing. The Trustees, Messrs R. Leake, A. Palmer and J.H. Sales duly signed the lease on 25th March. 1969, at an increased but still modest rental of £58 per annum,
The installation of two fruit machines in 1969 turned out to be a popular addition to the Club’s amenities, and the additional income they provided was also most welcome. The introduction of “pre AGM” meetings in the latter part of the season proved to be a welcome feature in the Club’s programme. Informal discussion on all Club matters was encouraged on these occasions. No voting took place but items discussed were noted and followed up at the monthly Committee meetings,
THE CLUB PAVILION: OLD AND NEW
The early 1970s turned out to be an important period in the development of the Club’s facilities.
Hardly a year had passed without some alterations and improvements in the Pavilion, and the start of the decade. 1970 was no exception; sliding doors were fitted in place of the north wall so enlarging the Pavilion space, and thereby improving faculties both for Social functions and the provision of meals when six-rink matches were held; the Pavilion door also needed stabilizing, and this work, ably supervised by Dennis Holland, was completed entirely by voluntary labour. It was an illustration of the point, stressed by Reg Russell in his Secretary’s report, that the response by members to requests for volunteers for various jobs was by far the best he had known.
It had become obvious by this time that a Council grant towards the cost of an indoor bowls green was out of the question unless the Club could put up an equal amount This idea was therefore abandoned. Instead, the Club decided that it would be desirable to provide a new Pavilion, and that raising funds for this objective should command its full attention. The building of a new Pavilion became therefore the main consideration of the Committee, and at their meeting in February, 1973 the Chairman reported that he had arranged a meeting with the Treasurer of the local Council to discuss the raising of funds, either by a grant or loan.
Meetings were also arranged with the Architect of the SDC (Sports Development Council) and sketches of a possible scheme were submitted to the Committee for consideration. The Architect had obtained a quotation which suggested a possible cost of £32,000 for the building. This was very discouraging, since it appeared at that stage that perhaps no more than £15,000 would be available in one form or another from the Council, and the Club would thus be faced with the problem of funding a substantial balance. However, after further meetings with the Council’s Treasurer, Mr. J. Turnbull, and considerable help from his secretary, Mrs. Joan Player, a loan of £22,000 and a grant of £5,000 was arranged – later improved to a £20,000 loan and a £7,000 grant, operative from 1974. The somewhat reduced loan eased the situation for the Club, which was faced with obtaining Sureties for the sum borrowed, which had to be repaid over a period of sixteen years (albeit at a very favourable low interest rate of one-eighth of one per cent). Initially, twenty-one Club members agreed to act as Sureties, and most of them further agreed to assist repayment by loaning the Club units of £100, free of interest. However, it was felt that the burden should be shared more widely among members, and there was a good response to an appeal to the remaining Club members to enter into interest-free loans in varying sums ranging from £25 upward.
The total sum of £27,000 available from the Council matched closely an alternative quotation for the building obtained at the instigation of Ron Dann. The way was therefore clear for work to proceed, and a contract was eventually placed with the firm concerned.
A sub-committee was formed to deal with the proposed new building. Members were Messrs D. Holland, A. Hutchinson, R. Dann, J. Mouland, G. Pond, G. Stoke and E. Watts, and I as Chairman. Tom Richardson was also appointed to the sub-committee to deal with the extra secretarial work involved, so relieving of this additional burden Jack Yardley, Club Secretary, whose work was increasing every year.
An approach was made to the North West Regional Health Authority, previous the Hospital Board, for a ten year extension of the lease to the year 2000. Given the Club’s loan commitments to the local Council, this extension was very important.
Happily it was granted in March 1975, as was the deletion of the original three-year’ notice clause. The rent was also increased to £125 per annum.
On 18 March 1974, a Special General Meeting was held to discuss the plans for the building of the new Pavilion. After a full resume of all that had taken place, a motion giving the Committee authority to go ahead with the building was put to the meeting and carried unanimously.
In preparation for the erection of the new structure, the demolition of the old Pavilion and clearance of the site was undertaken by volunteers during the close season, with terrific enthusiasm tinged with a little sadness, as so many happy hours had
been spent there over the years. But as some of us know, advanced age often reveals creaking joints, and the old building was no exception! There were many helpers, and the demolition and removal of the old timbers was ably supervised by Harry Collins, the ‘ladies loo’ the object of many jokes and at times uncomplimentary remarks by our own ladies and visitors alike, was the last item to be removed, much to the amusement of all.
In parallel with site preparation, the sub-committee very quickly organized groups to deal with various tasks to be undertaken by members in fitting out the new building, Len Theobald was responsible both for the purchase of all electrical equipment and the choice and design of type of heating; Dennis Holland designed the kitchen; and Jim Mouland, as always a great help, advised on the ordering and supply of materials needed for the project.
The new pre-fabricated Pavilion was delivered on 6 January. 1975. Once the shell of the building was erected, members who had volunteered to work on the electrical installations and the fitting out of the bar and kitchen were called upon and responded willingly. Charlie Slane was in charge of the lighting installation, Eric Batchelor and Eddie Wood, together with Dennis Millership and Tom Richardson all worked unselfishly from start to finish under difficult conditions to ensure that lighting and heating were operative as quickly as possible. Dennis Holland made available his skills as a carpenter, and showed confidence in his design by building the kitchen as well! The work was hard, the weather cold and yet every day, including week-ends, members have their time to ensure the Pavilion would be ready by opening day of the new season.
Once the heating and lighting were functioning, the ladies were called in to make curtains, and Nancy Millership did a first-class job in enlisting helpers, organizing, supervising and working at this specialist job. Sewing machines were set up in the Pavilion, and the ladies seemed to enjoy every minute of their endeavors,
As the whole project took shape, and completion was in sight, excitement ran high. Snags there were but the good humour, hard work and desire to bring everything to a successful conclusion, of all those involved in this most ambitious project in the history of the Club were the main factors in the whole operation.
The new Pavilion was well and truly launched on President’s Opening Day, held on Saturday 26th April 1975. Two subsequent social evenings were arranged to celebrate its opening the first on 17th May attended by playing members of the Club and their wives or husbands, was also when the Pavilion was officially open by our local Member of Parliament, Mr. Cecil Parkinson and the second, on 24th May was attended by representatives from the MCBA and F&DBA plus members and their wives from thirteen neighbouring clubs.
THE SEVENTIES – OTHER ACTIVITIES
Although the new Pavilion naturally dominated the Club’s development in the early 1970s, progress which deserves mention also occurred on a number of other fronts. The Club continued to enjoy a satisfactory level of achievement ‘on the green’ and in 1972 reached the final of the Prentice League, winning the Cheal Cup; it was also successful in that year in winning the Jarvis Cup.
This period saw a big development in the ladies’ activities. As part of a steady growth in Club membership, by 1972 the size of the Ladies’ Section had increased to sixteen members. They consequently became keen to play more matches, and the Chairman and Secretary met them to discuss both getting them established as a playing unit and the election of Lady Officers. Events moved fast, and the Ladies’ Section ran two competitions in 1974 for cups presented by Jim Barker and Ralph and Ethel Hodgkinson, to be competed for annually. This, too, was the year in which the Ladies’ Section held its first Annual General Meeting.
As we move into the second half of the decade, the Club’s story continues to be one of consolidation and growth.
In 1976 the receipts from bar sales and gaming machines increased dramatically with great use being made of the new Pavilion, not least by the social members, now formally admitted by the Club. Consequently, the Bar staff- under the Chairmanship of Ron Dann, were working at full-stretch nightly, especially at weekends. One immediate benefit of the increased income from these sources was that it put the Club in a position to refund to members the interest-free loans they had made to help repay the money for the new Pavilion borrowed from the Council The popularity of these facilities also brought its own security problem, and a strong room was built to house the gaming machines, wines and spirits. Again, the Club was fortunate to enjoy the services of a willing volunteer, and the necessary bricklaying was completed almost entirely by Geoff Stokes.
Other improvements in 1976 were the purchase of new furniture (at a cost of £1,400) and a new flag (at a cost of £65 – plus VAT!). In this year Jack Yardley presented a cup, to be known as the “Yardley Cup” to commemorate his year as President, to be competed for annually on Gala Day (two-woods, mixed triples).
At the Annual General Meeting in 1977, Jim Catchpole was offered Life Membership in recognition of his membership of the Club since its foundation. Len Theobald also presented a cup to the Ladies’ Section for a two-wood competition.
Following the tremendous effort put into the construction of the new building and all that it subsequently entailed, it would appear that we relaxed a little this time.
However, it was not entirely a case of ‘marking time’, for membership continued to rise reaching a playing strength of ninety-three men and twenty-six ladies; there were also two hundred and twenty four paid-up members on the Social Register. With the influx of both playing and social members, it was hardly surprising that every social function was well supported and therefore a financial success. The Club’s healthy financial position contributed of course to its ability to improve its facilities still further. Apart from the new furniture, already mentioned, new carpeting was purchased for the Pavilion and a pool table costing £600. But the most important item was a complete new watering system, comprising a 3,000 gallon water-tank, electric pump and equipment, enabling the whole Green to be watered efficiently and easily. Nev Mathews was influential in contacting the firm to supply and connect up all this latter equipment.
A sadness was that Jack Yardley gave notice at this time that he would not seek reelection as Secretary at the following Annual General Meeting, It is impossible to catalogue all the extra work which had fallen on the shoulders of the Secretary during Jack’s seven years in office. But undoubtedly the building of the new Pavilion and the general increase in the Club’s activities had placed a huge burden on his shoulders. However, they were broad enough to cope and we owe a deep debt of gratitude to him for his excellent services to the Club.
In 1979, our Golden Jubilee year, many attractive events were arranged to celebrate this milestone anniversary, and the Secretary and Match Secretary, together with their sub-committees, put in many hours making necessary preparations. The programme started with a pre-season supper (the first of its kind), held at the Cranborne Rooms, Hatfield attended by one 120 bowlers and their wives, lady bowlers and their husbands. The local nature of the celebration was emphasized by the entertainment, which was provided by the Little Heath and Potters Bar Operatic and Dramatic Society. The occasion established a new item in the Club’s calendar, for pre-season suppers (on a more modest scale!) have continued annually ever since.
On Opening Day in April an official Club photograph was taken and several events, among many, may be picked out as highlights of a most enjoyable year.
A coach party paid a visit to the Tower of London. After a short ‘fun’ game some of the bowlers were entertained by the ‘Beefeaters’ in the Club Room, after which they adjourned outside to witness the Ceremony of the Keys.
Six-rink matches at home against the EBA, F&DBA, MCBA and the MCB (Middlesex County Bowling) Executive, allowed a large number of our members to play in these events.
A rose show, ably organized by Tom Richardson was held in the Pavilion and the number of excellent specimens that were exhibited proved that either bowler’s worked hard in their gardens, as well as bowling; or their wives spent many hours in the garden while their husbands were playing bowls. The latter explanation appeared to be the more probable! Bannerettes, suitably inscribed, were presented to all the clubs we played during the season, and inscribed ashtrays and pens were presented to every player of these clubs.
A most enjoyable Jubilee year, during which many congratulations were received from visiting clubs and associations on our progress over the years. There was praise too for our organization of events, and the hospitality, which everyone appreciated, due in large measure to the unfailing energy of all our lady helpers. It was therefore appropriate that Dora Holland was offered Life Membership for her untiring efforts in charge of catering for Club functions over so many years.
ONE MORE DECADE – THE EIGHTIES
After a year of Jubilee celebrations, the Committee turned its attention to more mundane matters, but ones none the less essential to the smooth running of the Club. A proposal to floodlight the Green was given the go-ahead, as it was often the case that the last ends of competitions were played in semi-darkness. Thanks to the voluntary efforts of Brian Thurgood and Les Norman, the cost of the installation was kept to only £308. An extension of the bar store, a real necessity, was also completed at a cost of £2,008.
At the close of the 1981 season, Dennis Holland gave notice to the Committee that he did not wish to stand for re-election as Green Ranger at the Annual General Meeting. Dennis had served the Club well in that capacity for fourteen years, and the excellent condition of the Green and its general improvement over the years was to a large extent due to Dennis’s care and almost-daily attention. It was always a pleasure to work with him. not only in his work as Green Ranger, but also in the many other duties he performed so willingly for the Club, Dennis was succeeded as Green Ranger by Bert Wright.
No surprisingly, in view of the further improvements carried out to the Club’s premises, 1982 turned out to be a year of high expenditure: ditches were renewed and brought up to County standard: a new Gents’ changing room was built, and a covered link-up with the main building made the entrance to both buildings very attractive; (Bob Knight fitted out the new Gents’ changing room, and the Club is indebted to Tom Richardson for his dedicated supervision of the project from its inception; it could almost be named “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”!) the kitchen was extended. The original Gents’ changing room was made available for the use of the ladies and additional work was carried out by volunteers particularly Les Norman, Charlie Hannan, Len Theobald, Tom Huke and Ron Dann. The cost of these additional buildings and alterations represented a substantial investment for the Club, was over £10.000.
Just to record the membership position at this time, the numbers at 31st October 1982 stood at men 94, ladies 36 and social 86.
Sunday morning coaching sessions were by now an established and popular feature; new members were taught the basics of the game before being passed as proficient enough to participate in Club events, and all were appreciative of the efforts of George Edwards, Tom Huke and David Westgarth, the Club coaches.
1982 was also a year in which, gratifyingly, the Club achieved recognition in various external circles:
– George Edwards qualified as a Member of the EBA Umpires’ Association.
– Long-Service Certificates were awarded to Arthur Palmer, Tom Richardson, Dennis Holland and Jim Sales by the MCBA they each having served at least ten consecutive years as an Officer of the Club.
– Harry Collins won the Middlesex Area SAGA Singles. He also beat the Kent champion, but was beaten by the Sussex champion – and so narrowly missed the opportunity of competing in the final stages at Worthing. A fine
– In the White Horse League, the Club won the Area League, winning seven out of their eight matches.
The following year, 1983 saw the introduction to the Club of Associate Members when the Committee decided unanimously that Associate Membership should be available to full members of the Club of at least five years’ standing. Applications were to be made to the Secretary, in writing, giving reasons for requesting transfer. Associate Members would enjoy all the rights of full members, other than the right to bowl. The annual subscription for Associate Members was set at £5. And it was also agreed that membership would be by agreement of the Management Committee, who would reserve the right of withdrawal at any time.
Honours did not come the way of Club members very frequently in 1983, nevertheless during the year Ralph Pond, Brian Thurgood and Harry Collins won the F&DBA Triples Championship; Alan Dick was runner-up in the F&DBA Singles and Terry Webb was selected to play for the County. Alan was also honoured by being elected President of the F&DBA.
With all the improvements and extension of buildings mentioned in previous pages, it was decided that a Maintenance Sub-Committee should be formed and under the capable Chairmanship of Tom Huke, this has proved a very sound move.
Its efforts in encouraging voluntary labour for the many improvements both on the Green and in the Pavilion have ensured that the site is always maintained in first-class condition. The composition of this Sub-Committee has changed over the years, but the constant enthusiasm and keenness of its members to keep the whole Club in prime condition is a credit to all concerned.
Some problems that had arisen over the precise definition of the Club’s boundary with Eastern Gas and encroachment on its land continued to cause concern. and the Committee was grateful to Potters Bar Cricket Club, particularly to their Secretary, Derek Dredge for granting us permission to site the water tank in the corner of the
Cricket field, at a very reasonable rent, A similarly reasonable fee was agreed with the Gas Board to allow us to retain the bar store extension in its existing position, (This was. in fact. a ‘holding’ operation, pending final resolution of the matter, as described later.) These arrangements were very satisfactory to the Club, following protracted negotiations, dealt with by our then Secretary. John Magowan with his well-known diplomacy and skill.
In 1984 the Championship Shield, which had been competed for since the inception of the Competition, was replaced by a silver cup, since there was no further space available for winners’ names! Membership now stood at ninety-seven men and thirty-nine ladies, with a waiting list of potential members of five men and 7 ladies.
The Club’s reputation over the years in supporting charities was well maintained, and a donation in this year of £612 to the RNLI was a magnificent effort, as was the £720 donated to the Wayside Centre the following year – a record.
Mention should be made here of the steady progress made over the years by the Ladies’ Section. By 1984, the number of fixtures in their list had risen to twenty-six, an increase of twelve over the preceding ten years.
By the mid-1980s, vandalism and break-ins were causing the Committee some concern, and the decision was made to install an alarm system, with a direct link to the Police. In the Club’s continuous efforts to ensure that its Green maintained its reputation of being amongst the finest in the County, it was considered necessary to carry out certain work. This necessitated restoring the banks to the correct level (following general wear and tear and a stricter EBA ruling), leveling the Green over an area of three yards by fifteen yards on Rink Number One (near the entrance gate) and leveling other areas showing depression.
In 1986 the Club’s collection of trophies was further increased when Harry Collins to mark his year in office as President presented a silver cup, to be won annually in a “Married Couples” Competition. Harry had been elected as President in recognition of years of service to the Club. He was always popular, among members and visitors alike, and there is no doubt that Harry must have played more bowls over the years – including matches, Club and outside competitions – than any other member. He had the further distinction of being a regular winner of at least one trophy on the Club’s Finals Day, year after year.
In order to lighten the load of the Secretary, it was thought desirable at this time to create a new Officer post to fulfill the function of Membership Secretary, and Les Norman was duly elected to this position at the 1986 Annual General Meeting. It was a most welcome appointment; pages could be written on the various jobs Les has undertaken since joining the Club; he is always a willing volunteer, ready to use any tool from a ball-point pen to a sledge hammer!
A popular feature of the close season has long been the Ladies’ Dinner, held in the Pavilion. A colourful scene indeed, with all the ladies in their ‘Sunday best’, and animated chatter echoing around the room, silenced only by the arrival of the handsome waiters (British, too!) with the soup course, all visibly thrilled by the appreciative glances from the lady diners. After the meal, the ‘Chairperson’ calls for the Chef- always Jim Mouland – whom she congratulates on an excellent meal – sentiments which are always received with acclamation by all present.
Membership figures in 1986 rose to a record total of 123 men, 52 ladies, 128 social, and two associate members.
In July, Colin Pink achieved the unique honour of being selected for three Middleton Cup matches, and was awarded his County Badge. All congratulations were due to Colin on a well deserved award.
When Jack Baxter decided to move from Potters Bar to Lincolnshire, we lost an enthusiastic worker for the Club, His keen interest in many aspects of the Club especially social events, with Ethel’s willing assistance was much appreciated by members, and his sterling work on the Green always received a mention by Bert Wright, our Green Ranger.
At the April 1987 Committee meeting John Hastings was invited to attend to discuss his ideas for a Club newsletter. His proposals were enthusiastically received and his offer to produce a newsletter at two-monthly intervals was unanimously accepted. This has now become a regular feature of Club life and its distribution to members is undertaken by a willing band of helpers. Congratulations were due to Renee Layton who was awarded her Certificate under the EBA Coaching Scheme and became qualified to coach beginners,
Terrific keenness was shown by the over sixty-fives when it was announced that the Club had entered the newly-formed C&MVL (City and Metropolitan Veterans’ League), and mid-week triples matches were arranged against the ten other clubs in the League. Bert Wright assumed responsibility for fixtures and team selection, and there was no shortage of names for selection. When the Club hosted a match, those members selected to play also took on the job of serving tea and biscuits and washing-up afterwards. Experience tells in all things, and washing-up presented no problem! Well done, the ‘Oldies’!
Bill Venneear, our popular Treasurer from 1981-87 was offered Life Membership and thoroughly deserved this honour; his willingness to assist in so many of the Club’s activities is well-known and appreciated.
Volunteers throughout the 1988 close season ensured that the whole of the Club, both inside and outside was made spick and span; the Green was rendered immaculate; hedges were trimmed; and borders were made neat and filled with new plants, eagerly awaiting sunshine and showers to provide a mass of colour during the season. How nice to be able to record that the planting was undertaken by a lady – Sheila Frost, wife of Roy – one of Bert’s willing band of helpers on the Green,
Literally, in these endeavours, no stone was left unturned, for the ditches were given a new look! The old pebbles were replaced by ribbed vinyl duckboard, and the arduous task of shoveling-up and washing the pebbles every year thus became a thing of the past.
This year saw the advent of the Club’s first Mixed Gala Day, A Gala Committee was formed, under the Chairmanship of John Hastings, and twenty-one clubs were invited to this event on Sunday. 14 August. The administrative work during the months prior to the event was colossal, and great credit is due to those who gave so much time and effort to ensure the success of this ambitious venture; they have every reason to be proud of their achievement.
In the C&MVL tremendous enthusiasm was shown by our “veterans’. Twenty one players took part in these triples matches, all very competitive, but friendly, under the expert guidance of Bert Wright and we finished the season as League Champions. A celebration lunch was held in the Pavilion on Wednesday 23rd December, attended by the Potters Bar squad and representatives of all the participating clubs, when the Chairman of the C&MVL presented Bert – on behalf of the Club – with a winners’ cheque for £100. An excellent buffet lunch with wine supplied by the sponsors and prepared by Pam Bradley and her helpers, was thoroughly enjoyed by all present, a splendid occasion.
The problem of encroachment on the Eastern Gas boundary, already mentioned, had arisen with the extension of the bar store in 1982, and had been brought to light by our then Secretary, John Magowan. Although he relinquished this post in 1985, John helpfully expressed his willingness to see the matter through to an eventual conclusion. At our last Committee meeting of 1988, John was able to report that resolution had finally been reached with British Gas Eastern; documents had been signed and agreement had been reached that the Club will pay them an annual rental of £10.
In addition to this matter, John had also dealt with the Club’s need to register under the 1984 Licencing Act, and had attended Court on our behalf, when a Licence was granted for five years. The Committee congratulated John on his very efficient handling of these two matters and passed a unanimous vote of thanks to him for his efforts.
To bring my story up to date, at the 1988 Annual General Meeting, Ron Dann was accorded Life Membership for his services to the Club over a long period. (Incidentally, just to record all our present Life Members, I should add that Tom Richardson. Jack Yardley and – if I might be permitted to mention it – myself, are also recipients of this award.) There were changes, too, in some of the Club office- holders; Reg Farrell’s highly successful year as President came to an end and he also stood down as Secretary, a position he had occupied with distinction for the previous three years. The Secretary’s role, conducted mainly behind the scenes without the glare of publicity, is a demanding one. The efficiency and attention to detail Reg brought to his task is recognized by us all. We are fortunate in having Bob Whittle as his successor. Bob has served on the Committee for many years, and had been Match Secretary since 1983. We know he will perform his important new duties with the same effectiveness and courtesy he brought to his earlier responsibilities. Tom Huke has taken over from Bob as Match Secretary; and Chris Parsons remains our tried and trusted Captain. All these appointments augur well for our 1989 Diamond Jubilee year, as does that of George Edwards as our new President. I wish him every success, and hope that it will be a happy and enjoyable year for all, members and visitors alike.
CONCLUSION – A LOOK BACK
In conclusion, may I say how fascinating and interesting it has been collating these snippets of information from the five thousand pages of Minutes that I have read. I regret that I have had to be selective; another volume would be necessary to describe in more detail all the interesting developments that have taken place and to mention all the personalities who have contributed so much over the years. For these omissions, particularly to those I have not mentioned, I can only say “sorry” but space alone has prevented a more comprehensive account of the Club’s history. However, some interesting factors have. I think, emerged which highlight the character of the Club from its very beginning:
- The desire of the Officers to bring together men and women from all walks of life, representing a cross-section of local inhabitants, to play the game of bowls in that truly sportsman-like manner for which it is renowned.
- Our concern as members always to remember those less fortunate than ourselves by organizing functions every year in support of our local charities an activity which distinguished even the Club’s earliest days.
- The generosity of the founders in the early days mentioned in previous pages and the willingness of members to assist the Club financially when appeals for loans have been made over the years, which have enabled us not only to build our own Pavilion, but to ensure that we have at our disposal first-class equipment to make the work of maintaining our Green and premises in tip-top condition less arduous and more enjoyable.
I cannot end without paying tribute to the ladies – bless’em! – who have provided meals for us over a number of years. Some of these ladies bowl, others are wives of members, or widows of late members. All do a magnificent job whether they provide just tea and biscuits for spoon drives or three-course meals for matches and social occasions; we are truly grateful, and echo the well-deserved high praise they receive from members and visitors alike.
We must now look forward to the future, and ensure that we all support the Officers and Committee, who spend many hours to achieve the smooth-running of all the Club’s activities.
We must also hope that could the founders see us today, they would be very pleased and proud of the way their creation has progressed since they formed a small village club sixty years ago.
C & MVL Champions 1988 (Veterans).
‘End without End’ – the story continues with the years 1989-2003
The success of a bowls club is achieved by striking the right balance between a strong history and the preparedness of the current members to continue actively supporting all aspects of the Club.
The story of the Potters Bar Bowls Club first 60 years is told in the booklet “End without End” written by Jim Sales and covered the period 1929-1989. The story now continues with the period 1989- 2003 in looking forward to continuing to serve the people of Potters Bar as the Club enters its 75th Anniversary year.
Completing the year 1989, an important development was the installation of an automatic irrigation system. Bert Wright was the Green Ranger and supervised the installation, ably supported by Bill Goodacre our very loyal Green Keeper. At this time the Club became members of the Sports Turf Research Institute and under their annual inspection and advice, coupled with the help of a band of Club volunteers, the Green showed great improvement.
In 1989 the Club Office was fitted out by John Bowyer and Hon. Secretary Bob Whittle. New technology also arrived in the form of a photo copying machine and dispatch the old hand cranked Gestetner machine to the scrap heap.
1990 heralded discussions on the Club’s move from Middlesex County Bowls Association to Hertfordshire County Bowls Association and whilst there was agreement by both Counties, it would be some years before the move was completed. The year was to prove a critical time for the future of the Club on its present site. The Hospital, formally located on the site now occupied by the Tesco Superstore, was exploring its further development with one of its options to use the Bowls Club site! The Hon. Secretary was out looking for a new home to locate the Club however, after further negotiations with the Hospital; agreement was reach to extend the Club lease until 2000.
In this year members were tasked either to carry out bar duties or work on maintaining the Green and Club House. Two major jobs were carried out on the Green the first was Canada Life funding the removal of tree roots under Rinks 5&6 and Bert Wright supervising the removal of the grass ditches to be replaced with concrete channels and the banks timbered. Volunteers completed the work in single weekend and as testament to their efforts, 13 years on, their work is still in A1 condition.
The second major operation on the Green was based on a recommendation by the Sports Turf Research Institute that the Club should start working on the compaction of the Green. Today a verti-drain machine would be used to do the work, but back in 1990 such a machine was rarely found at bowls clubs. The solution was for lots of volunteers, armed with electric hand drills, to drill 9600 holes! The work took a month to complete but the result was a great success with common agreement that the task was well worth the effort.
1992 marked a mile stone in the Club with Bert Wright, after so many years of loyal and hardworking service, handing over his Green Ranger’s boots to John Smith with Bill Goodacre continuing as Green Keeper. This was the year that the Middlesex County Bowls Association awarded Long Service Certificates to Bert Wright, Bob Whittle and Tom Huke.
In 1995 Jim Mouland was also been awarded his Long Service Certificate and it was also the year that our Ladies Section became full members of the Club.
1996/7 was to see a radical change in the landscape, as viewed from the Club House. It was announced that the Hospital, our landlord, was to be demolished to make way for a new Tesco Superstore and Star House was also to be levelled. The opportunity was grasped to open negotiations with Tesco with a view to connecting the main drainage to the Club for the first time in over 70 years! It was to be a further two years before agreement was reached and part-funding of the work was provided by Tesco.
In 1998 after many years of hardworking and loyal service Bill Goodacre the Club’s Green Keeper retired. The year also provided a major mile stone when Potters Bar Bowls Club finally became members of the Hertfordshire County Bowls Association.
The Club suffered a disappointment in 1999 when its application for a National Lottery Grant was rejected. However, this was to a degree balanced out by the news that the free-hold valuation for the Club was £30,000 +VAT.
2000 was heralded-in with the purchase of the free-hold of the Club House, Green, Service Road and half the Car-Park. With a new millennium the members of Potters Bar Bowls Club were the owners of their estate.
A NEW MILLENNIUM
In 2001 Mrs. Anne Clarke was elected to serve as President of the Ladies. St Albans & District Bowls Association. This was the year that the Club won the Coronation Cup, last achieved in 1968, with the team of Eric Marriner, David Silbery, Graham Marriner and Charles Oates.
Throughout the history of the Club the central focus has been to maintaining the Green so as to provide the members with the best possible playing surface. In 2001 it was decided to employ the specialist company Turfcare Leisure Services Ltd to maintain the Green with the Club’s Green Team carrying out the routine work that included cutting and watering the Green.
Bringing the development of the Club up to date; in 2001/2 a major refurbishment of the Club House was started in the main Hall, Bar and Snug areas. The Honours Boards were removed as part of the redecoration work and replaced with ‘picture framed’ style Honours Boards donated by the late Vice President Ron Dann and Peter Stokes. The change to the new presentational style allowed more members’ achievements to be displayed. The donation of new curtains by Charles Morris added the finishing touch that significantly ‘brightened-up’ the Hall.
All of the Club fixtures, news and results were made instantly available to the growing number of members with Internet access. The Internet site was designed, built and managed by Graham Marriner as a no cost service to the Club. Typical of the messages of support in this development was from Tony Allcock, Chief Executive E.B.A. “Congratulations on your web site and for the initiative. Other clubs should follow your example. All the best for 2003.
On the Green, 2003 was the most successful year since the Club joined the Hertfordshire B.A. The first success came in winning the Bob Vise Trophy, with all of the matches played away from home, winning against the holders Harperbury , St. Albans Townsend and de Havilands Bowls Clubs. In the individual St. Albans & District competitions Keith Ades, Stuart Frost and Richard Pearce won the Herbert Cross Triples Trophy and Richard went on the win, for the third time, the Steve Howe Officers Singles Trophy. The season finished on a high point by capturing the St Albans & District Club Rink League with 41 members of the Club participating in this 10 match competition.
Over the winter of 2003 a new Club Office was created together with additional changing rooms for the gentlemen and lady bowlers. Further redecoration was carried out in the corridor that included enhanced lighting and changes to the door entry points into the Club House. All of the work was carried out by a team of volunteers ably led by Peter Stokes the Maintenance Chair Person.
In 2003 the Club said a sad farewell to the R.A.F.A., having hosted their meeting in the Club House for many years, the Association membership having declined to a level no longer sustainable. However, the social side of the Clubs activities remained as strong with weekly meeting of the Short-Mat bowling, run by Bill Massey, the Bridge Club -now in its 5th year – with meetings held twice a week and a membership of more than 30 players. In addition the Cribb Club met every Thursday evening throughout the winter months. To help the dark winter nights pass more speedily the Club’s Social programme run by Anne Throup and Grace Osborne included Whist, Quiz, Jazz and Game & Games evenings.
2003 ended, as so many years before, with the Annual Competition Awards, Dinner and Dance at the Cranborne Rooms (Red Lion) Hatfield followed in December with the Christmas Lines Draw. The curtain was finally lowered on the Club’s 2003 activities with the New Year Party in the Club House.
This is potted history of the Potters Bar Bowls Club and as such does not purport to be a comprehensive story of the Club and its members. However, readers are invited to add their remembrances of past events and personalities to this document. The past should never be forgotten, its members and their achievement, as we look forward to a bright and challenging future that will provide the best possible bowls and social club to all its members.
To add your input to this document simply chose one of the following:-
- Place your note/information in the Captain’s pidgin-hole at the Club
- Send to: 86 Byng Drive, Potters Bar. Hertfordshire EN6 1UH
- Email: email@example.com
Credit goes to Bob Whittle, Trustee for his input to the text for the years 1989-2003.