Windsor and Eton Bowling Club

Club History

 

From a page originally created by Rob Gordon



THE FOUNDING OF THE CLUB
 

Founded as a limited company in 1922, The Windsor and Eton Bowling Club is sited in Goswell Meadow. This area is in the care of The National Trust, having been purchased by public subscription in 1910 in order to preserve the view of the castle from Alexandra Gardens (dating from 1902), which are a short distance further west.


Site of W&E Bowling Club pre-1922

In the summer of 1921 a few enthusiasts and influential sportsmen in Windsor headed by Councillor R.W.Rawkins (Mayor), Mr.Lawrence Lightfoot (Chief Constable), Mr.J.T.Carter and the Editor of the Windsor, Eton and Slough Express decided to explore the possibility of setting up a Bowling Club in the town. 

 

In the autumn of 1921 meetings were held in the Guildhall with Councillor Rawkins in the chair and Mr Bob White (Secretary of the Conservative Club) acting as temporary secretary.

 

The National Trust was approached regarding the leasing of Goswell Meadow and in November 1921, at a crowded meeting in the Guildhall, it was decided to form the Windsor and Eton Bowling Club Company and to issue shares at 1 each. Councillor Rawkins was appointed President with Mr Bob White as the Honorary Secretary.

 

The National Trust agreed to lease the meadow to the company on a 25 years lease and it was decided to use Cumberland Turf for the green. Windsor Town Council and the Trust gave permission for the Club to erect a thatched pavilion at the Thames Street end of the meadow.

                                         
                            Site of W&E Bowling Club 1922                                                           Green in the 1930s

The uptake of the share issue was entirely successful and the club had a membership of over one hundred. After all the initial outlay expenses had been met, the club held a cash balance. 

 

The club played its first matches in the summer of 1922 on what was described as the best green in Berkshire (we believe it still is!).

                                                            
                                
Play in 1930s using the "putting green" area                                                              Green in 1949             

With help from Windsor and Maidenhead Council and the Princes Trust, the pavilion was given a new thatched roof in the spring of 1990.  The building retained a thatched roof until 2006 when prohibitive costs forced the decision to change to a slate roof.

 

In 1991 an automatic sprinkler system was installed.

 

In the winter of 1992, the rear of the club was extended to provide improved changing facilities and a kitchen.

EARLY YEARS OF THE CLUB
To commemorate the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977, the club held a 'Jubilee Bowls Tournament' sponsored by K.P.Foods. The accompanying souvenir brochure for the event gives us an insight to the background of the club, its level of success and  its membership at that time. It indicates that the club was indeed a force to be reckoned with over its first 55 years of existence. 
                                                                                                                                          
The brochure for this Jubilee event gives some brief historical facts about the club. The words from the brochure are worth quoting here as they reflect the high status of the club at that time (1977):

     _________________________________________________________________________________________
  
FROM THE 1977 BROCHURE
"Windsor and Eton Bowling Club was founded by the Business Men of Windsor in 1922. The Green itself, when laid, was of the best Cumberland Seawashed Turf, but over the years some parts have been renovated with Bowling Green Turf, nevertheless the Green remains one of the top Bowling surfaces in Berkshire. With its thatched Club House, surrounding flower borders, Windsor Castle towering in the background and OldFather Thames nearby, the Club is situated in one of the most picturesque settings for miles around.

The Club enjoys a very healthy active membership totalling 120 members of which 100 are active bowlers and  the high standard of bowling which has been achieved over the years has resulted in an impressive and in some instances unique honours list.

During its existence the Windsor and Eton Bowling Club has achieved more honours than any other Berkshire Club, they are:

                  COUNTY
                  County Singles                                16 Times                            
                  County Pairs                                   12 Times                                           
                  County Triples                                  5 Times                                            
                  County Fours                                    7 Times                           
                  County Hon. Sec.                              2 Times                             
                  County Club Championship            7 Times                                             
                  County Double Fours                      6 Times                                           
                  County Benevolent Triples              2 Times                                             

             ENGLISH BOWLING ASSOCIATION
                    1948 Singles  E.Newton
                    1956 Singles  N.C.Butler

              LONDON SOUTHERN COUNTIES BOWLING ASSOCIATION
                    Triples 1957
                    Pairs    1957
                    Singles Lonsdale   1969 & 1974

              LADIES SECTION    
                    County Triples                           1961 & 1962
                    County Pairs                              1965 & 1973
                    County Singles                           1966
                    County Sec. Singles                   1976
                    County Two-wood Singles        1976 

                    English Bowling Association     1961 Triples                           
                                                                                                                     
We pride ourselves on being the only club in the country to have produced 2 individual E.B.A. Singles Champions, 2 Men's' and 2 Ladies' Internationals, the only bowler to have won all six major County Competitions and to have won the LSC Lonsdale Singles on two occasions"

 

    ___________________________________________________________________________________________

 

SOME GREAT CLUB BOWLERS 
At the time of Club's Golden Jubilee in 1972, the Club claimed to be the only club in the country (at that time) to have produced two England Singles Champions, Ernie Newton (1948) and Norman Butler (1956). 

 

* Ernie Newton had lost the national singles final by one shot two years previously in 1946. He represented England twelve times between 1946 and 1949. Arguably he  was the finest player associated with the club. He won the County singles five times, the pairs five times, the triples three times, and the fours on one occasion. He died aged 83 but not before winning the club singles championship for the last time when he was 82! 

 
Ernie Newton 

* Norman Butler was a founder member of the club. He presented the club with a tree which was planted by the Deputy Mayor as part of the club's Golden Jubilee celebrations in 1972.

 

* Tony Hathaway was a great servant of the club and indeed the 'Tony Hathaway Memorial Cup' is contested each August Bank Holiday. He was the first man to win all the available County competitions at one time or another. In 1967 he had an England trial.

 

 


  Tony Hathaway

 

 

CLUB PATRON
Until her death in 2010, Gwen Foreman was the Club Patron. She could have easily been included in the previous section on 'Great Club Bowlers' however she deserves special mention here. The lady is an institution within Windsor and Eton Bowling Club having joined the club in 1932. Gwen is the daughter of Ernie Newton (see above). 

 

In 2002, as a tribute to her 70 years membership of the club, a special match  was arranged between W&E and the E.W.B.A.. In 1972 she served as President of the Ladies Section of the County Bowling Association. She was a National Triples Champion in 1961. At club level she won many titles but notably was ladies club singles champion on nine occasions the last being in 1996 when she was in her 80's.

 
Mrs Gwen Foreman

HONOURS BOARD AND CLUB FLAG
The honours board in the club house dates from 1956 when it was unveiled by the then Mayoress of Windsor, Mrs.Gladys Hanbury Williams. It is recorded that the pavilion was lit by gas at that time.

 
NEW HONOURS BOARD 1956
Right to Left : Tony Hathaway,
Bob Wood, Peter Male, Mayoress

At the same time the Mayoress also presented a new club flag in 1956. This was replaced by a second flag at the club's Golden Jubilee in 1972. This new flag later disappeared having been accidentally left out after a match! The current flag was acquired as a replacement.  (Note from the accompanying photograph that the flag pole once stood at  the corner of the club house).                      

                                                                               
                                          1956 New Flag being raised                                                            1972 New Flag - later stolen!

FEES
The club rules for 1922 (the year the club was founded) indicate that the club offered 'Bowls, Lawn Tennis and any other such games as the Committee may determine.....' . The annual subscription was set at  1 1s 0d . 

 
In 1948 the bowling playing members paid an annual subscription of 2 2s 0d which included the right to play tennis as well as bowls.

 

By 1971 the annual fee for playing members was 3.50.....non-playing members 50p!

 

Playing member fees in 2019 are 85; with "Social Members paying 15 and Juniors just 10.


    
CLUB SONG
In the 1950's, Tom Farr, a past Secretary and President of the Club, wrote the song "Bowlers Who Bowl for Windsor". Tom Farr died in 1976 whilst holding the post of Club President. The words of his song are set out below and should be sung to the tune of the Eton Boating Song:

                                                        Bowlers who bowl for Windsor
                                                        Are always very keen
                                                        To play the game together
                                                        Both on and off the green
                                                        And when the game is over,
                                                        And off to the bar we go
                                                        It's drink, drink, together
                                                        Alike both friend and foe.

                                                       And when the time is come
                                                       For us to say "Good bye"
                                                       Good luck, good health, good bowling,
                                                       Is sure to be our cry
                                                       And this is no exception
                                                       For I say to you my friend
                                                       Good luck, good health, good bowling,
                                                       Until we meet again.

Other clubs took up this song as their own but it is claimed the song originated here at Windsor and Eton.