Author Alan Bousher
Egham Bowls club was officially founded in 1922, but in fact was called Egham and District Bowling Club; it is unclear as to when the name change took place.
The Club was originally founded by a small group of Egham Business and Professional men. The original land, which was used for grazing, was leased from the owners (Baron and Baroness de Worms), who were also the first Presidents of the Club and their photograph can be seen at the CIub, along with others who have held this office since.
In 1948 the opportunity of being able to purchase the freehold of the site came along and the Committee at that time decided that the only way forward was to set up a Company and issue loan notes to fund the purchase. These loan notes were gradually repaid and fully redeemed in 1969.
The old Club House was situated where the car park is now located, with the front elevation being along a line near the fence that separates the car part from the outdoor green. This Club House was of a very basic construction and was only really suitable for summer use and had been extended piecemeal over the years.
It is unclear as to when the Bar was set up which was signed and known as the '22nd end'. It is thought that a licence to sell alcoholic beverages was obtained during the war thus making it a little easier to obtain supplies.
Some can remember spending a winter's Friday evening just getting together for a sociable drink. It has also been said that this building had an ambience that generated a feeling of warmth and that only good times could be had under its roof. Many were sad to see it demolished at the end of the outdoor season in 1985. There are some photographs with the old Club House in the background on display at the Club.
Life at Egham continued with each summer passing and members going to Hounslow or Wey Valley to play indoor bowls during the winter. The land to the East of the green was overgrown and was like a wilderness. In the mid-seventies the committee of the day suggested that members might like to have an allotment thus putting the land to good use. Many took up the challenge and some fine plots were soon to be seen, some members even sunk a pipe into the ground with a hand jack pump to provide water, as it was a rule that water could not be taken from the Club's supply. In 1976 the jack pump run dry and allotment holders had to bring water from home, some even on bikes!!
In 1982 the Sports Council made it known that there was £50 000 available as a grant for the construction of an Indoor Bowls facility. Egham was the only club in the district that had land of sufficient size that such a building could be built on but of course had no access to it, other than via the pathways around the outdoor green.
By good fortune, the surrounding land had changed hands and was bought by Amey Roadstone to extract gravel, they were approached and agreed to a land exchange size for size with costs being met by Egham Bowls Club thus enabling road access for possible building and services. Interest was expressed by Egham members and by other outdoor clubs in the district for such a facility to be built at Egham, a steering group was formed and feasibility studies were carried out, which concluded the project should go ahead. Before the project could proceed and, to prepare for the hand over to a Management Committee, the constitution of the original Outdoor Club was changed. This resulted in the formation of the present constitution that describes both the Outdoor and Indoor Sections of Egham Bowls Club.
A Special General Meeting was called and the proposal was put to members who, after much discussion, voted in favour with only one against. The Sports Council made it a condition that before the £50 000 could be released Planning Permission had to be approved, this took some two years and when the Sports Council were approached they 'turned turtle' by saying Egham was too late as they had moved on and were no longer funding Bowls Projects.
The struggle for funds was now on, Lombards agreed to provide the major part of the loans needed, Courage Brewery made a loan and an overdraft was agreed with Barclays Bank but this still left a considerable shortfall. The only way this shortfall could be made up was from members and some local clubs making loans or donations, life membership was offered to provide capital funds which was taken up by some. Members offered loans to the Club at varying percentage rates, starting zero.
Osborne Construction had already been appointed to provide a design and build service, and building commenced in May 1985 and was opened to members in October 1985. With the Club now open and operating, the loans had to be repaid, which was quite daunting but with thanks to strict fiscal policies the Club survived and prospered, the last of the loans being finally cleared in October 2000 and the Club is now currently debt free.
Egham Bowls Club
Affiliated to Bowls England, SBA, WSBA, TVBA & NWSBA
Manorcrofts Road (off Wesley Drive), Egham TW20 9LX - 01784 435209