The History of Amesbury Bowls Club
The Formation of the Club
The building contract for the construction of Antrobus House was awarded to a local builder, Mr HC James. Harry James was interested in the Sport of Bowls and he obtained a lease on the Bowling Green area and laid the green. He became the first President of the Club, a position he held for nearly 40 years. His photograph adorns the clubhouse to this day. The Club was formed early in 1925, the membership drawn mostly from the employees of HC James. The Club became affiliated to the Wiltshire Bowls Association on the 18th April 1925. Harry James became the President of Wiltshire Bowls Association in 1938.
In 1928 a bowls club was formed in Durrington. There was constant rivalry between the two clubs, but interest in bowls in Durrington waned and the club closed in 1976 with a majority of its remaining members joining Amesbury, strengthening the club considerably.
The Green Hut
The first clubhouse or pavilion was a wooden hut erected in the far corner of the green surrounds opposite Antrobus House. It is not clear when it was built, but as it was painted green it became known as the “Green Hut”. During the Second World War the green was closed and the hut was used to pack Red Cross parcels. The “Green Hut” was apparently a favoured watering hole and there were many social members whose main interest did not include bowls. The “Green Hut” remained in use until 1977.
The original green laid in 1924 was extended in 1975 from 36 yards to 42 yards square under the supervision by the then Green Keeper, W.H. (Dickie) Bird. Dickie used turf from the adjacent Tennis Court to achieve this. All the work was done by members of the club. Dickie was the Green Keeper from 1971 to 1987.
In 1977 the clubhouse in its present position was erected on one of the old Tennis Courts. It was opened on the 23rd May 1977. The basis of the building was a surplus sectional classroom purchased from Wiltshire County Council for £45. The club were fortunate to have many skilled in the building trade amongst its membership; Stan Marsh, Horace Cannings and Peter Yeates being the main force in erecting the clubhouse. During the following years the building was extended to accommodate a Ladies Changing Room.
The first phase of a major project by the club was completed in 2005. This was to completely surround the clubhouse with a brick outer wall, replacing the existing windows and doors with UVPC replacements, an extension, a refit of the kitchen, and to extend the width of the clubhouse by one metre. The cost of this was approximately £40,000. The second phase was completed after significant fund raising and a Bowls England loan.
The Formation of the Ladies Section
In 1967 the then Club Treasurer Mr Peter Yeates obtained permission for members wives to be allowed to bowl on the green. One of the first lady members was Peter’s wife, Iris. This led to the formation of the Ladies Section. However, it was not until 1997 that the ladies became full members.
The lady members of Amesbury Bowls Club have made a great contribution to the club both on and off the green:
Mrs Mary Buckle became the first Lady President of Amesbury Bowls Club.
Mrs Pat Sharp has also become one of the main driving forces on getting young people in Wiltshire interested in the Sport of Bowls.
Mr Dickie Bird – President of Wiltshire County Bowls Association in 1959
Mrs Pat Sharp - President of Wiltshire County Woman’s Bowls Association in 2001
Mrs Mary Buckle - President of Bowl s Wiltshire Ladies in 2011
Mr Colin Sheppard - President of Bowls Wiltshire Men in 2012
Mr John Southern - President of Bowls Wiltshire Men in 2017
The Club Rules provide for the election of honorary life membership. This has only been awarded thirteen times in the history of the club. Life Membership has been awarded to the following for their distinguished service to Bowls and Amesbury Bowls Club:
Arthur Marles : Stan Marsh : Horace Cannings : Ron Wilkinson : Peter Yeates : W H Dickie Bird : Frank Mitchell : John White: Pat Sharp : Colin Sheppard : Jim Richards : Mary Buckle: Dennis Shipp
In 2015 the club celebrated its 90th Anniversary.