History of Seaford Bowling Club
Throughout the centuries the game of bowls really had a rough ride. The increasing popularity of bowls in 14th century England created the fear by King and Parliament that the practice of archery was being neglected and that the effectiveness of the archers in battle or military operations would therefore be lowered. As a result, various Statutes were passed restricting or forbidding sports such as bowls and tennis during the reigns of Edward III in 1361, Richard II in 1388, and Henry IV in 1409. These Statutes did not prevent the game from being played and the game’s popularity continued to grow.
In 1541, Henry VIII specifically forbid artificers, labourers, apprentices, husbandmen, servants or serving-men, and other "low-born" people from taking part in the game of bowls, except at Christmas on their master's grounds and in his presence. Heavy monetary fines were provided as penalties for non-observance of the Law. Queen Mary took it one step further in 1555 and disallowed the playing of the Christmas games on the grounds that the game of bowls was being used as an excuse for “unlawful assemblies, conventiclers, seditions, and conspiracies". The 1541 Act was in place for another three centuries when it was finally repealed in 1845 under the reign of Queen Victoria.
Seaford Bowling Club
In 2017, it was discovered that the Club’s lease for the land that hosts the Bowling Green and Clubhouse was due to expire. The Club Hon. Secretary, Arthur Feist, spent roughly four months researching and finding the relevant documents depicting club activities from the early years through to modern times and was eventually, with the help of a legal team, able to re-lease the Club – and in doing so, discovered much more about the history of the Club. We also have to hand a small booklet detailing some of the history, that was originally recorded in 1970 by Fred Mitchell.
This is from a map of Seaford and East Blatchington from 1889 showing the Rectory and lands around, including the Farm.
1856 – 1877
Let us start in the 1856 Poll Book for East Blatchington Parish – The poll book shows three voters registered:
Reverend Robert Nathaniel Dennis living as rector (with his wife, Elizabeth King whom he married in Lewes on 26/9/1854.) as freehold rectorial tithes.
William Lambe living at Blatchington Farm as ‘occupier’ of the land.
George Watson, whose place of abode is in Woolwich, Kent but is the holder of the Freehold Annuity which is issued out of the share (Moity) of the Freehold Estate.
Robert Watson whose place of abode is also in Woolwich, is shown as the Freehold Land owner of Blatchington Estate.
Despite extensive online research, we can find no more information about the Watson family. Sadly there are many parts of the 1861 Census that are missing, including, the Kent records for Woolwich, which would have hopefully given us more information about the Watsons.
Handwritten books and other loose pages, representing the collected Recipes & Remedies of successive members of the Lambe family, have been donated to Seaford Museum. These represent, probably, a period of some 200 years from mid/late 18th Century to 1953. The Lambe family were associated with East Blatchington from, at least, 1850 when they moved to Blatchington Farm. Robert Lambe bought the Blatchington Estate in 1877 and the family once lived at Blatchington Court.
In Robert Lambe’s Probate in 1922 it shows he left in his Will a seriously large amount of money.
£74,790 in 1922 is roughly equivalent to the purchasing power of £4.2 million in 2020
In documents discovered by Arthur, on 20th Dec. 1877, the Reverend Dennis was desirous of a Glebe (piece of land serving as part of a clergy-man’s benefice and providing income). Robert Lambe (mentioned above) owned various lands in the area. He conveyed (transferred the title to (property) "no application for registration is required when the property is conveyed following a court order") the meadow of what was to become our bowling green, along with other land and properties alongside St. Peters church to the Reverend Dennis for his and descendants use, for ever.
We were unable to ascertain the price.
1892 - 1918
On 17th February 1892, Reverend Dennis died. His Will was duly proved on 14th July 1892. He left £9,882. 5s 9d (about £1,263,833 in 2020) in his Will according to the Probate Records.
His wife Elizabeth aware there was then no Glebe attached, annexed or belonging to the rectory or Benefice for East Blatchington other than the rectory garden measuring 1 rod and 2 perches, was desirous of conveying the land and assets to the church.
On 28th November 1892, the new Rector of the Parish Church of East Blatchington, Arthur John Richardson, and the Lord Bishop of the Diocese of Chichester, The Rt Rev Richard Durnford, assented and approved of the conveyance for the purposes of providing Glebe land to the rectory. (a glebe is land belonging to a benefice and so by default to its incumbent. In other words, "glebe is land (in addition to or including the parsonage house/rectory and grounds) which was assigned to support the priest)
So, around the year 1900 the site of the present bowling green was a grass meadow with a pond in the middle. The only occupants were a few cows. At that time, no bowling green existed in Seaford.
Around the year 1912 a suggestion was made by local gentlemen that a bowling green would be a useful asset to the town and several men of substance, such as:
John Moore, aged 34, Dairyman of Terminus Buildings, Seaford, (d 30/12/1954
NB. Clinton Place. When this row of terraced buildings was built in the nineteenth century it was named Terminus Place as it was close to the Seaford Railway Terminus. In the 1870s, Clinton Place stopped at the junction with Broad Street.
Apsley William Henry Pawson, aged 33, Ironmonger of Broad Street, Seaford, (d Apr 1950)
William Wilkinson, aged 56, Building Contractor of Airedale House, Seaford, (d Apr 1925)
Courtney James Barber, aged 40, Hosier of Broad Street, Seaford (d Oct 1945) and
Edgar Henry Fuller, aged 47, Solicitor of Chichester Road, Seaford (d Jan1937)
got together to further this plan.
The Rector, Arthur Richardson, and the Lord Bishop of the Diocese of Chichester, the Rt Rev Charles J Ridgeway, agreed that the “Glebe” land should be leased to the Bowling Club for £12.0.0. per year.
The pond was drained and filled in and the field levelled. This work commenced and soon the grass meadow was declared fit for play and although there are no actual records of the official opening, it did function as a grass green from 1912. It was to be called the Seaford Bowling Club and there were no banks or ditches, no hedges and just a few trees.
18 December 1914 – Reverend Arthur Richardson dies, having served as the Rector from 1892 until his death in 1914. The new Rector is Reverend Henry Lancelot Martley.
The earliest Club records to hand appear to commence at the beginning of 1915 when a meeting was held at a lock-up shop/offices held by Mr Hobden - No. 3 Gloster Place, Seaford at 4pm on 11th March. Those present consisted of Apsley Pawson, John Moore, William Godfrey, William Wilkinson and Edgar Fuller. Apsley Pawson was elected as Chairman and Edgar Fuller as the Secretary.
The first matter at their meeting was that they should join the Sussex County Bowling Association and strangely enough, this was both proposed and seconded by John Moore, and carried. The next business appears to be the making of some by-laws; one was, "Each member shall notify the Hon. Secretary at least three days before each match his ability to play in such match if selected" (although so far no matches had been arranged) and another was, "A charge will be made of 1/6 per head for the use of a locker." It was left to Mr. Pawson, the Chairman to superintend the green and overhaul the mowing machine.
During the years of WW1 (1914- 1918) there wasn't much activity, but the first Annual General Meeting was held on 8th February 1916. The membership was 36 and during the previous season the club had played 13 matches and won 5!
And on 30th June 1916 two new members joined: Mr G T Godfrey and Mr. George Kennard - and Mr. Kennard was a member for 50 years until in 1967, he died on the green.
During this time, a Corporal William Netley of the Coldstream Guards, arranged working parties of soldiers to work on the green. (There are only 2 soldiers called Netley to be found on Ancestry.com records and the other, George Netley, was killed in action in 1915.) We also discovered that William Netley married Ellen Bailey in 1916 in Shoreham, which adds to our belief that it is this Corporal Netley who worked on the green. We further discovered that he was promoted to L/Sgt and was discharged from service on 21/3/19 with Trench Feet – having served in France.
After William Netley left Seaford in early 1918, the working parties stopped and the green was neglected and in poor shape so arrangements were made for the Royal Engineers, who were stationed at the North Camp, to supply soldier labour in order to get thegreen back to some sort of playing condition.
Here is the 1918 Kelly’s Directory entry for East Blatchington.
1919 - 1939
At the 4th AGM held on 19th March 1919, it was reported that the war being over, the club had started to arrange some matches and to work on getting the green into tip top condition. The membership was 31 and the balance in hand was £57. 19. 4d
On the 18th August 1922 – Reverend Henry Lancelot Martley along with the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for England and the Lord Bishop of Chichester, The Right Reverend Winfrid Oldfield Burrows conveyed to John Moore of Clinton Place, Seaford, the Freehold Land at the junction of Chichester Road and Blatchington Road, part of the glebe lands belonging to the rectory, for a sum of £650.00.
John Moore raised the lease charge to the Bowling Club to £16:00 per year.
By 1923 the membership had increased to 46 which was too many for the small pavillion to cope with. Mr. W Galloway, a member, informed the committee that he would like to extend the Pavillion at his own expense. This was accepted and an official opening arranged!
Everything in the club seemed to be running smoothly between 1924 and 1928 with plenty of matches. In 1925 G.T. Godfrey was selected for an international match at Glasgow. In 1928 the club was successful in winning the County Double Rink Competition 'Abergavenny Cup' whilst other members reached the County Pairs Semi-final and others, the County Triples Semi-finals!
The photo above may be from around the period between 1929 and 1936 but we're not sure when it was taken
The period between 1929 and 1936 is not documented as the record books were lost or mislaid, however it is known that in 1935 the green was flooded very badly with the water reaching the top of the banks.
31st July 1936 – John Moore of The Coppice East Blatchington purchases that strip of land adjoining The Seaford Bowling green from Thomas Lambe of the Cottage Findon.
3rd September 1939 – World War 2 starts after Germany invaded Poland.
During the war years 1939 - 1945 the club experienced financial difficulties. By November 1939 the membership had dropped from 54 to 45 and the balance in hand dropped to just £75. The Treasurer intimated that it would be difficult for the club to meet the expenditure during the next season as only 22 members had paid their subscriptions. By September 1941, despite economy, it was reported that the club funds were exhausted. He posted a notice asking for donations which raised £23 and enabled the club to carry on.
However, by 1943 the financial position of the Club had not improved and owing to the very small number of members it was found the club could not meet its liabilities and a General Meeting was called. At the meeting on 20th September 1943, with the balance standing at £4.17.4 it was decided to close down for the coming season. Later a donation of £10 was received and it was decided to try to carry on, which they did.
By October 1945 the balance had reached £22.17.3. The receipts amounted to £30 and the estimated expenditure expected to be in the region of £49. There is no doubt that the club was in a very bad state financially and hardly able to survive although the rent had been reduced by the landlord to £12. The annual subscription was dropped to 25/- in order to get some new members, the membership at that time being only nineteen.
At the 1945 A.G.M. only thirteen members attended, and it was reported that only 4 matches had been played, three of which were won. It was decided to hold club competitions if enough entries were received. A Mrs Goode gave the club a small silver mug in memory of her late husband, to be known as the ‘Ray Goode’ Cup, to be competed for annually in a handicap competition.
In 1946 the Treasurer informed a meeting that if they could raise the sum of £15 they would be able to start the next season free of debt. A collection was made on the spot and £14 was raked in and arrangements for 1947 were then considered. During 1947 a Mr W A Kemp was enrolled as a new member.
It was during a meeting in September 1947 that Mr Albert Stevens attended and gave his views on the steps that would have to be taken to make the green into a first class one. This involved removing old turf, laying pipes, gravel, general draining etc. and he stated the cost would be in the proximity of £700.
25TH October 1947 - John Moore of The Coppice East Blatchington conveys that freehold land at the junction of Chichester road and Blatchington Road to Charles Bravery of “Rosedale” Blatchington Street Seaford for the sum of £600.00, together with the Bowling Green Pavilion erected thereon. AND TOGETHER with full right and liberty for the purchaser and his successors and visitors to pass and repass at all times and for all purposes over and along Glebe Drive, Seaford.
This is the same John Moore mentioned earlier. He was quite a rich man when he died in 1954, leaving the hefty sum of £47,000 in his will – the 2020 equivalent purchasing power of around £1.25 million.
At this time, the club had very little money and Mr Bravery, who was at that time President, stated he was going to have the green re-laid to make it a first-class green. He would finance the whole project himself, charging the club a nominal rent. Mr A Stevens was ordered to carry out the necessary work and re-lay the green using Cumberland turf, to ready be if possible, for the 1948 season.
The Club subscription had now been raised to £2.2.0d and through many donations and other offices the club balance had now reached the wonderful figure of £75.10.5d, the highest it had been for many, many years.
It is sad to relate that Mr Bravery, President of the Club, died 24th February 1948 and so after all his good work in putting the club back on its feet did not live long enough to enjoy the benefits of the new turf. Unfortunately, after his death, an acrimonious relationship developed between his son and executors and the club over the terms of the lease the club held with Charles Bravery. The only lasting solution was for the club to purchase the ground from his son Victor and the executors. This would mean forming a Limited Liability Company. A purchase price of £800.00 was agreed. It was decided to invite members of the club to subscribe to raise the funds. The amalgamation of the Seaford Wednesday club, who played at the Salts Recreation Ground with Seaford Bowling Club swelled the number of members. 29 members subscribed.
11th July 1949 – And so on this date the Seaford & Blatchington Bowling Green Ltd Company No.470721 was formed with a share Capital of £1000.00 divided into 1000 shares of £1.00 each, 862 of which were issued.
There were seven directors and members voting rights were 1 vote for every share held. The memorandum and Articles of association gave the directors wide ranging powers.
1st December 1949 – And so it came to pass that the piece of land at the junction of Chichester Road and Blatchington Road was conveyed from C.J. Bravery‘s estate to the company, including the right of access along Glebe Drive. The Company rented the land to the club trustees for £12.00 per annum.
From then on, with the glut of new members things seemed to brighten up for the club generally and by the year 1952 the club’s balance had jumped to £312.11.5d as opposed to £22.17.3d in 1945 and by 30th September 1961 this balance had risen to £574.16.8d.
This was a remarkable recovery from the early struggling days when the club was only kept afloat by the generosity of the members dipping into their pockets.
On 18th April 1951 it was agreed that a bar should be installed as an experiment. The profit in the first year, which included catering as well, was £10.10.0d.
On 23rd November 1956 it was proposed that a Ladies Section be formed provided enough ladies wished to join. In June 1957 thirteen lady members were elected with their subscription fixed at 10/6d and from that time the ladies have played an important role in the life of the club.
They soon got into their stride because as early as October 1957 they arranged their first Jumble Sale. Flo Henty joined in 1960 and in February 1989 was granted life membership in recognition of her service to the club including acting as the Ladies President, and as Ladies Captain. She is still actively supporting the club in 1996.
The Ladies Section affiliated to the Sussex County Women’s Bowling Association in 1968. It is also important to record that for the year 1983 the Lady President of the S.C.W.B.A. was Eileen Banfield of Seaford Bowling Club.
The company had an opportunity to purchase the adjacent Elm Court site for £6000.00. The Company Articles of Association certainly permitted the purchase of lands and businesses, and the taking out of Mortgages. The site was fitted out with Tennis courts and basketball pitches and of course the Elm Court Building. Coupled with the Bowling Club it would have made an ideal Sports facility. However, sadly, the management drive was not there and so the opportunity was lost.
Fred Mitchell, who along with the Green Ranger Mr W Bird was granted life membership in 1970, concluded his account of the history of the club in its early years with the following words “Such are the troubles in trying to keep a Private Club alive. Today, in the year 1970, the Club has a flourishing bank balance of over £800, over 100 members and thanks for all this is mainly due to the early pioneers who had the foresight to turn a cow meadow into a bowling green, and providing the present occupiers of the green are willing to pull their weight and help out occasionally financially when needed, I see no reason why the Seaford Bowling Club should not go on to greater things.”
As the following will show Fred Mitchell’s optimism was not misplaced and the club has indeed gone on to achieve even more during the years since he wrote the above.
From here onwards, there are no more lovely photos-yet. Liz, our webmaster, has spent time during the 'lockdown' period of the Coronavirus pandemic, to research as much of the history as is available online using genealogy sites and other historical pages - we have several 'photographs of past members etc' hanging on the walls of the club, which, once lockdown is over, we will make digital copies of, and add to this History of the Club. In the meantime, apologies for the long read that follows.
A wake up call came in 1976 when the club was burgled, and cash stolen. The club was not covered by insurance and so had to stand the loss.
Denis Shaw took the history further on into the new decade starting in 1970.
Still the struggle to survive as a Private Club remained. The Old Timers would have thought that to start a new season with cash balances of about £2000 and with subscriptions from the playing members to come, the Club must really be situated on Easy Street with financial troubles a thing of the past, but could they have known of the cost in 1970 of labour, of fertilizers and all the sundry expenses, to say nothing of the contingent liabilities for the maintenance of the Pavilion and ancillary buildings, they would have realised how very narrow is the margin on which the future solvency depended.
Denis suggested that biscuits with our match teas in place of the spreads of yesteryear consisting of bread and butter and jam and scones and fancy cakes to follow, might bring to notice the facts of inflation and the shortage of money!
By 1971 with a mixed membership approaching 100 it became obvious that the changing room in the Pavilion was completely inadequate, and so the Committee sanctioned, and Captain Jack Bridger set forth to buy, a sectional building which volunteer members could erect themselves.
A Kentcast concrete prefab was purchased, a concrete floor laid and, with much sweat and toil, the men’s locker room came into being and the old changing room was given over to the lady members.
In 1972 we proudly celebrated our Diamond Jubilee.
During the next five years the club continued to made steady progress but in the mid-season of 1978 some unwelcome excitement occurred. Pot holes the size of half coconuts appeared in the green night after night. The dense undergrowth on the bank was searched by volunteers and an earth and various runs discovered. Experts were called in and badgers (a protected animal) named as the culprits. The two exposed sides of the green were ringed with string, from which rags soaked in creosote were suspended, and a large trap made of wire netting was duly baited and set in the undergrowth near the runs. There were no results from these measures and the pitting on the green continued becoming a serious threat to the bowling.
By now doubts were arising about the badgers and certain signs appeared to indicate that foxes were responsible. Pest extermination officers were engaged and on one bright night they kept watch and shot two foxes on the green and several more on waste ground behind the Esplanade, thus saving the club from yet another but different struggle for existence, albeit at a cost of some £35.
1979 saw further expansion of our premises. The men’s locker room had become a depository for old or damaged articles of machinery and furnishing for which no other accommodation could be found, to say nothing of sacks of sand and smelly fertilizers; so once again it became necessary to create a further covered space.
Following the successful 1971 precedent a concrete prefab garage was purchased and erected by the talents and muscle of certain club members to become a second tool and store shed, much to the benefit of the men in general.
Denis Shaw concluded his account of the 1970s by expressing the hope that “members, and those yet to come, continue to enjoy the game of bowls and, in remembrance and gratitude to those past and present who have made it all possible, carry on in the same spirit to take the club through to yet another decade and ad infinitum.”
In 1980 problems were again arising regarding the club accommodation and investigations into the question of essential repairs and renovations indicated that serious consideration had to be given to the possibility of providing a new building.
In November 1981 a Special General Meeting endorsed the recommendation of the Committee that a new Compton general purpose building be erected in place of the existing Pavilion. The first estimate of cost was £15,000 but as plans progressed this soon increased to £19,000. At that stage the club had but a mere £2,000 in hand but with a lot of courage - albeit of necessity - and perseverance on the part of members who provided much of the funds required it was decided at an E.G.M. on 9th August 1982 to proceed with the project.
August 1982 - Application was made to the sports council, among others, for a contribution to funding. The Sports Council provide grants to amateur sports facilities but not companies.
Advice was given how to overcome the problem. The Company and the club had to return the relationship to that of a landlord and tenant. A lease would therefore be raised between the Company and the Bowls Club, such that the “Bowls Club” would lease all land and facilities from the Company thus establishing its amateur status.
Three Club trustees were appointed, and the lease would be held in their names. And so, on 10th August 1982 the three trustees signed a 35 year lease with the Company for the site and all bowling facilities. The Trustees at that time were: A.E Hammond, D.E. Shaw, and C.A. Oakley
The trustees are wholly responsible to the landlord to observe and perform the provisions and stipulations contained on the lease and are the trustees for the SBC shareholding. They attend the Company’s AGM to observe the interests of the Club at that meeting.
Additional help was received from the Sports Council with a grant of £4,000 and an interest free loan of £2,000, and from Lewes District Council a grant of £5,000. The words of the President, Algy Hammond are recalled when he congratulated the members on their courage in making such a momentous decision.
As plans advanced so did the cost and a final figure of £21,360 was reached but somehow the extra thousands did not seem to be as important as the original figure to members who seemed to grow into it.
Mr Len Howard, a friend of the club, acted as Hon. Surveyor and club representative throughout and members were indebted to him for his expertise and generosity.
Work progressed through the winter of 1982 and throughout the project the organisation and financial control was managed by Cliff Oakley, the Honorary Treasurer and Alan Cann, the Honorary Secretary.
Members had good cause to be grateful to both these gentlemen who worked tirelessly and to great effect on behalf of the club. Several members worked on providing the interior partitioning, lining, and fittings during the very cold weather of the winter and the final decoration was done by more members in the spring of 1983.
The ladies made many and varied efforts to raise funds through the medium of coffee mornings, jumble sales, raffles etc. Ronnie Rendell opened her home to house whist drives throughout the winter. Numerous ‘gifts in kind’ were contributed by other members, carpeting, kitchen equipment, flooring, tiling, mats and the wrought iron gate.
All was ready for the opening drive of the season on 30th April 1983 although the official opening was not until 17th June 1983 when suitable plaques were unveiled by Colonel Harwood, Chairman of Lewes District Council, and a representative from the Sports Council.
It was noted that because the members had provided so much of the labour the whole project had cost much less than similar projects at other clubs.
The men’s changing room could not be provided in the new building so an attack was made upon the existing hut to make it more presentable including the provision of new wall and roof linings and new lockers.
Membership was increasing and the S.C.B.A. had become aware of the improvements together with the condition of the green nurtured by our two Green Rangers, Bernard Kingswood and Joe Selwood, and were obviously delighted with the facilities offered.
Nevertheless, by the end of 1984 plans were already afoot to provide an extension to the new building to provide accommodation for a men’s changing room.
By mid-1985 plans were well ahead to provide the extra accommodation. (Much of this latest work was developed and organised by George Such and members had good cause to be grateful to him – Ed.)
By March 1986, the foundation was laid, and the extension started. With additional interior and external work by members the extension was completed in time for the opening drive at the start of the 1986 season. This extension cost some £8,500, once again provided by members with interest free loans and donations together with fund raising events including a sum of £1,000 from the Ladies Section. The garage which had done service as a changing room was not thrown away but was re-sited at the rear of the clubhouse as a home for equipment.
Early in 1987 an automatic watering system was installed. Thus, the club entered its Jubilee Year after years of struggle for survival and subsequent developments with a fine clubhouse, a well looked after green and a new watering system.
During this year club events were arranged together with invitation events to other clubs and one special match with the English Bowling Association. A new flag was struck in club maroon with the club’s date of birth emblazoned thereon (this had to be replaced with a new one in 1995 having given excellent service in the blustery winds of Seaford). A new flagpole was presented by Mrs. J P Jackson in memory of her husband, “Jacko”, a former Club Captain.
For the next few years attention was focussed on the green and the surrounds. The grass banks and ditches surrounding the green needed attention to comply with E.B.A. regulations so a team of willing helpers, led by George Howell, was set up to provide the labour and during the winter of 1987/8 a concrete bank along the Blatchington Road end was built and faced with an artificial grass surface. However, it soon became obvious that the work was very heavy and would take four years to complete. Thus, the following year the other three sides were built professionally but ‘faced-up’ with artificial grass by members.
During 1988/9 the ‘heavy gang’ of members completed the work by paving the surrounds and levelling the grass bank at the Chichester Road side. More professional advice was obtained from the Sports Turf Research Institute as to the treatment required on the green and at the end of the season the ‘heavy gang’ lifted the turf around the edges of the green and installed a concrete edging support to spirit level accuracy. Again, the project, led by Joe Hope, the President, and George Howell, progressed steadily allowing completion in February 1990.
At the A.G.M. in November 1989, it was agreed that the ladies should be eligible to vote at such meetings. No chaining to railings; no racecourse histrionics; just a simple majority vote by the eligible voters (men) who raised their hands in salutation and recognition of modern beliefs. This was followed by the passing of a new Club Rule which recognised that equality had a price. Henceforth, the subscription of all playing members should equate. Thus, the ladies recorded their first vote in approving an increase in their subscriptions. History indeed.
The committee decided it was necessary to replace the water storage tank for the sprinkler system with a larger one and it was decided to demolish the existing tank house and build a new one. This necessitated excavating a large amount of soil but in the autumn of 1990 the ‘heavy gang’ got to work once more and by the spring of 1991 the project was completed.
The first New Year’s Eve Party was held to herald in 1991 and a similar party has been arranged for members each subsequent year. This venture was organised by the Social Committee which had become responsible for an increasing number of activities such as suppers, barbecues, etc.
In 1990 an ad-hoc sub-committee was formed to consider the future management of the club and on 20th March 1992 an E.G.M. was called to consider its findings. At the E.G.M. it was decided by a large majority to retain the existing management structure with one major exception. Future Club Committees would provide places for two ladies with a consequent reduction in the men’s representation.
On 26th March 1992 the Future Projects Sub-Committee, which then consisted of the President, Joe Hope; the Treasurer, George Such; the Secretary, Fred Tippett; Algy Hammond and George Howell (both life members); reported to the Club Committee the suggestions regarding extensions to the clubhouse to provide additional changing space for ladies, an enlarged clubroom which could accommodate short mat bowling and other improvements which might be possible.
To do so would require the excavation of a large section of the bank at the back of the clubhouse and the re-siting of the machinery store.
On 25th September 1992 at an E.G.M. the members approved a plan to go ahead with the proposed extensions at an estimated cost of around £44,000. Work on the excavation of the bank started in the spring of 1993 and the shell of the 46 foot Compton building extension was in place ready for the start of the 1993 season although the interior work and the re-siting of the store had to be held over until the autumn. The latter work was done almost entirely by member volunteers and included the building of partitions, erection of panelling, decoration and curtaining etc. A special appreciation must be recorded of the drive and energy of the Secretary, Fred Tippett, the help of Ken Norris’s son-in-law and the enthusiasm of the volunteers which enabled the 1993 A.G.M. to be held in the extended clubhouse on 4th December 1993.
The successful financing of the project, a total of some £44,000, was the result of substantial donations made by some members either in cash or in kind; the latter included a gift of some 50 delightful chairs from two members, wife and husband, and a legacy from Maurice Millard covered the purchase of much needed extra tables. Other funds came from grants from the Sports Council, Lewes District Council, the Foundation for Sports and the Arts and the Sussex Playing Fields Association, together with interest free loans from the Sports Council and members.
The rest of the money, some £13,000, came from the Club’s Building Reserve Fund. (Mention here must be made of the valiant work of George Such, the Treasurer, without whose wise and diligent counsel the reserve fund would have been much smaller. Members have cause to be very grateful to him. - Ed.) With intense satisfaction the club presented itself for the Official Opening on 27th April 1994, performed by the President of Sussex C.B.A., George Cummings, in the presence of the Chairman of Lewes D.C. and other visitors.
Whilst all the activity concerning the clubhouse was taking place other improvements were not forgotten. During the winter of 1994/5, the ‘heavy gang’ replaced the fencing along the Blatchington Road boundary, the ditches were cleaned, pebbles replaced, and rubber matting placed over and extensive work on the green continued.
In January 1995 following very heavy overnight rain the green was flooded to such a depth that the water was lapping the doors to the clubhouse. This occurred just 60 years after a similar flood in 1935.
During 1995/6 one of our members, Ken Norris, became the President of the Sussex County Indoor Bowling Association and at the end of his term of office the club honoured him by arranging a special match against the S.C.I.B.A. Very soon after that match Ken, who had suffered ill-health for some time, died whilst undergoing treatment in hospital.
During the summer of 1995, it was decided to obtain professional advice regarding the green with especial reference to ‘dry patch’ and in autumn 1995 Ansell and Randall Ltd. commenced an intensive deep slitting treatment. This, together with the continued hard work of the Green Rangers, Bernard Kinswood and Joe Selwood and the Greens Committee, produced a green which was better than ever during the 1996 season.
It was also in 1995 that the 50th anniversaries of VE and VJ days occurred and, on each occasion, special arrangements were made by the club to remember the two days and all who served during the 1939/45 War.
During the 1996 season the club probably scored a first in the history of bowling in arranging a candlelit drive – great fun for all concerned!
As we looked towards the new millennium it was clear Seaford Bowling Club was in good shape and the aspirations of founder members were being met. The membership was full at 150 members and up to then in the nineties, County Badges had been awarded to D Bibby, T Riley, W Byram and G Durrant.
Although the company continued along. It was in somewhat of a dark place. As the original club trustees deceased, they were not replaced due to lack of knowledge by the club management of the requirement. The company workings became clouded in a secrecy by the company management. Communication between company and club officials suffered. The old 1970’s management style took hold and prevailed well into the 2000’s
However, by mid the 2000’s the company was under new enlightened management in 2014 new trustees were appointed.
Heading toward 2017 and Lease expiry. The lease to Seaford Bowling club expired on August 10th 2017.
A letter requesting renewal of the lease had been sent from the Trustees to the company, six months from the expiry date as required. Leases now must be registered with the land office, and according to the land office there was no record of the Company ever owning the land.
It was still in the name of Mr. Charles Bravery from whose estate the company purchased the land in 1948. The first directors of the company back then had failed to register the land as the new owners. Fortunately, the original conveyancing documents were found and with the help of Lewes Smith (property Lawyers) ownership was proven to the Land Registries satisfaction.
However, the application is now for a lease on newly registered land. Having completed a new lease application to the land office, the bonafides of the new trustees must be established and a paper trail of authorized appointments provided. The new lease was issued on 22nd November 2017, some 5 months from the date of application. The new lease is for 35 years until August 2052.
To conclude, we now have excellent facilities and the green is in fine condition. No doubt in the years to come yet more improvements will be made and members will continue to put into the club as much as their predecessors did in the past.
To be continued in the years to come!