DW4_WBCLtd



 

In the early 1980's indoor bowls was just taking off. Many of us were members at Egerton Park Bexhill and used to do a 50 mile round trip for an evenings bowls. Others from our area played at the Preston Club Brighton, The Angel Tonbridge, Grattons Crawley and Eastbourne.

Ken Tomlinson was Director of Technical Services for Wealden District Council and had been hoping to build an indoor bowls centre on the former army camp at Maresfield.  He approached the county bowling authorities to run the project but they turned him down saying there would be no support in the area.  Ken Cunningham heard rumours of Ken’s thwarted ambition and arranged to meet him.   He agreed that if we formed a limited company the council would help us with financial grants and provide a long-term loan to build an indoor club.

On 8 December 1983 at a public meeting in Uckfield attended by about 150 bowlers from all over Mid-Sussex a steering committee was set up.  It included members from Buxted Park, Crowborough, Maresfield, Newick, and Nutley bowls clubs.  Frequent meetings in the then semi-derelict and freezing cold gymnasium which is still our neighbour soon led to the formation of the Wealden Indoor Bowls Club Limited. The initial directors were Ken Cunningham (chairman), Irene Scoble (secretary), Don Scoble (membership secretary), Eric Fielden (treasurer), George Davidson and Gordon Stone (Newick), Jim Thorne (Maresfield) and from the council Richard Pace (their Director of Finance) and, of course, Ken Tomlinson.  A completely separate but equally vital Management Committee  of Club officers usual to most clubs was set up to run the bowling activities. 

A degree of panic set in shortly afterwards when restrictions on local government spending meant that we lost our council loan and had to borrow a quarter of a million pounds from the NatWest Bank.  However, we swallowed hard and pressed on.  We set about recruiting bowlers who on providing a loan of £50 each became members of the company with personal liability limited to £1.  Ken Tomlinson and his WDC staff provided all the architectural services and we contracted with Cygnet, who already had experience with Eastbourne and Grattons, to be our builders.

So in the Spring of 1985 work started on the site, leading to our opening on Wednesday 20 November that year.  WDC’s chairman, Councillor Herbert Smith, a former outdoor county triples winner, did the honours ably supported by the then King of Bowls, David Bryant who, on the club’s behalf, presented Ken Tomlinson with his first set of bowls. 

Since then, thanks to the hard work of members and officers, the club has gone from strength to strength.  We started with all of the work being done voluntarily by members.  There was a cleaning team every Saturday morning.  Now we franchise the catering and have contract cleaners, and a part-time administrator.  Green-stewarding and bar stewarding is still dependant on volunteers.   Directors, Club Officers and other members continue to put in hours of unpaid work on which our financial security is based.  With our first quarter of a century behind us we look forward to the future with confidence.

 

 

 

Wealden Bowls Centre

The Centre - Historical Notes