Downton Bowling Club - how it all began
The Bowling Club is celebrating 40 years since it was established at its current Wick Lane site. At the recent AGM, one of the founder members of the club, Bob Dymott, was invited to talk about the club’s history.
Prior to 1983, people got together to play bowls on a piece of the Junior school playing field. They would meet and set up the boundaries to a ‘green’ using lengths of guttering and bits of string. Although at first many participants were not knowledgeable about the sport, one of them was - established bowls player and administrator - Ralph Bentley. Ralph had been a previous President of The English Bowling Association and he became Captain of the Club in 1980 for three seasons. Mr Lunt, of the Downton Tannery, was the President.
Bowling on the school field
Club members did occasionally enjoy the experience of playing on the club green at Alderbury, and under Ralph’s captaincy in 1982/3 an opportunity arose to build their own green at what was to become the Brian Whitehead Sports and Social Club, Wick Lane, Downton. At the same time the football club was establishing the upper part of the land. Many of the Bowling Club members helped to erect the original facilities.
When a building was needed, Bob Dymott himself, and Les Cousins moved a redundant village hall from the Broad Chalke area - piece by piece - to Downton. This construction is what you see as the bar area in the Social Club today. As well as Bob and Les, others helped with the roofing, including Jim and Dave Galpin. Vic Bryant, Don and Ron Moody were involved as was Ralph’s son-in-law, Mike Hallam. Ralph organised contractors to produce a bowling Green to the required standard - and Stubby Sherwood also devoted a lot of time and resources to this project.
Downton Bowling Club will never forget Ralph Bentley as his portrait hangs in the Clubhouse and an annual competition is played in his honour. He and many others worked hard to establish Club, but unfortunately, he died without actually playing on the precious Green. Bob Dymott took over as Club Captain and Vic Bryant was the first Greenkeeper.
If you have any more anecdotes / information about the early days of the club, then they would like to hear from you. Contact Alan Waters 512531.
New Green & clubhouse, 1983
Downton Bowling Club, 1983
The new season is well underway and the club has started with some very good victories in the Men's New Forest League, and the Bournemouth and District League. Rain meant that the playing surface was too soft for the annual match against Downton Football Club so a game of skittles was organised instead. Honours were even.
If you would like to have a go at bowling, then get in touch with Mike Hallam on 513359, or Alan Waters on 512531, or email@example.com. The club is also on Facebook and twitter or website www.downtonbc.co.uk.