For those of us who like to remember birthdays, it was on 28th July 1922, when 18 gentlemen under the chairmanship of a Mr.F.Bennett met at the Infants School, Walton, and decided. to form the “Walton-on-Thames Bowling Club”. Mr.A.Perring was elected Hon.Secretary and Mr.E.S.Lemarchand Hon. Treasurer; the entrance fee was set at 2s.6d. and the annual subscription 2s.6d. paid in advance. The Elm Grove Bowling Green then came under the W.o.T. Urban District Council who charged members of the public 3d an hour.
The Club soon grew to about 70 members and Club Competitions were held – Championship, Singles Handicap, Novices and Pairs with cash prizes, £1.l0.0 going to the Champion. 1926 saw fixtures with local Clubs – Oxshott, Whiteley Village, Horsell, Hersham, Chertsey, Oatlands, Hindhead and Annondale. Transport for away matches was hired from the Walton Motor Car Co., who were also engaged later for the once-a-year fixture to a seaside resort.
It was resolved in 1923 to hold a “Ladies Day” – mixed doubles, 5 ends on the “Drives” principle, with 2 prizes – to the 1st and 2nd lady – value of both not to exceed £1. This became a yearly fixture and no doubt, relations with the “Wornens Club” were very cordial. They had to be. The Club loaned their crockery, relied on them heavily for providing teas at home matches, and occasionally used their Club room for holding Committee Meetings. A slight coolness developed in 1943 when it was found necessary to draw the attention of the Council’s Surveyor to the practice of some ladies playing on the green after 5 pm. Alas it transpired. that the ladies were within their rights (except for some reason on Wednesdays and Saturdays).
The performance of the green did not in the early years reach the high standard we are now accustomed to. The U.D.C. was asked to improve the surface, square off the corners and provide ditches around the green, which in due course they did. A seat was purchased and presented to the U.D.C., and in 1930 an outbuilding was rented for lockers for the exclusive use of the Club. In 1932 a new Pavilion was formally opened by the Council. This lasted. for over 30 years until in 1964 the Council replaced it by a larger and more impressive Pavilion. Unfortunately it met its demise in the small hours of a morning in 1973 when it went up in flames – cause unknown – subsequently to be replaced by the Pavilion we have at present.
In the post-war years, serious consideration was given to opening up a new Cumberland turf green at Stompond Lane, but not surprisingly it was turned down on account of cost. The U.D.C. agreed however in 1955 to reconstruct the existing green completely, and – after some dislocation – the new green was duly opened in the summer of 1956. As with most things new, there were teething troubles, and in 1960 the U.D.C. re-laid parts that had sunk, and carried out top dressing and levelling.
The Club has always been indebted to the high motivation of its Officers, and just a few are mentioned at the risk of omitting many others.
Mr.Ambrose Ayley J.P., a founder member and a well-known and respected figure in public affairs, was known as “The Commodore” to his friends, and he served on all the Committees of the Walton-Weybridge Council and on many others. Club Secretary from 1927 until 1958, he was a very enthusiastic bowler, and he donated to the Club a silver bowl known as the “Commodore” bowl.
Mr.Hugh Jarvis, a local builder, joined at the Club’s inception and his widow presented in 1935 a silver plate the proceeds of the competition to go to local charities; Mr.W.S.Boddy, another founder member donated a Championship Cup, and in 1930, Mr.Oakley of “Kim” Winchester Road, presented the Kim Cup – a competition open to public services employees including the police, gas, electric light, fire brigade and municipal undertakings. Mr.R.Phillips, J.P., was a Chairman and presented the Hospital Cup – proceeds to Walton Cottage Hospital. At that time, Mr.Montague Robinson was Vice-Chairman, both serving the Club for many years, and when they and Mr. Lernarchand (Treasurer) all passed on, in 1941, Mr.K.G.Durrant J.P. became the Club’s first President – a post he held continuously until 1962.
Mr. Jock Nicol, an ex-professional footballer and Guildford resident, served the Club well for many years as Secretary and as Councillor on the Executive Committee of the Surrey County Bowling Association and has done much for sport generally in the area.