THE BOWLING CLUB’S HISTORY
[Based on an original article written by Maurice Jones in 1984, and updated by Adrian Robinson in 2011]
A fascinating insight into the history and success of the Comberbach Bowling Club, the founding members, the donation of the land, the magnificent trophy, the high standing of the club within the British Crown Green Bowling Association, and the club’s impact on the regional bowling club circuit.!
After the 1st World War, 1914-1918, Lord Barrymore who lived at Marbury Hall donated a piece of land to the village for the War Memorial, bowling green, and children’s playing field. In those days the Marbury Estate owned a lot of land in Comberbach.
In 1919 a Memorial Committee was set up to raise funds and organize the layout of the land. The original Chairman of the Memorial Committee was Mr. Edward Cowap who went on to become the bowling club chairman for 25 years. On the 4th August 1919, a Peace Celebration event including a procession was held in the village to raise funds, and prizes were awarded for the Best Decorated Cottage and Garden (15 shillings first prize), 10 shillings for the best-decorated horse, and 5 shillings for the best-decorated cycle. In the summer of 1921, the war memorial was erected and the bowling green was laid by Fred Evans Senior and Albert Lever. On 27th August 1921, the grounds were officially opened by Lord Barrymore and Mr. Roscoe Brunner, who lived at Belmont Hall and was a Director of Brunner Mond & Co, later to become ICI. Works continued on the grounds in 1922 including the erection of a bowling pavilion, fencing, and paths. The bowling club committee was formed at the start of 1922 and Lord Barrymore was the first President of the bowling club. Lord Barrymore presented a silver cup to the bowling club named after his wife and it was first played for in 1922. The first winner of the cup was a local bookmaker, Mr. Joe Atkinson.
As always money was required to improve things and donations were received from Lord Colum Crichton Stuart, one guinea, who was the Member of Parliament for this district. Also, £100 was received from Mr. Roscoe Brunner, who was one of the first Vice Presidents of the club.
As things progressed, a team was formed to play in the Mid Cheshire League and in 1936 the team won the 2nd Division. A photograph of the team is displayed below.
Photo: Rear left to right: J M Jones Snr, W.Hartley, G. Plant, J E Jones, W. Evans, A Davenport
Front left to right: E Hatton, H Ledward, F Emery, F Jones Snr, A. Lever, J Atkinson
The green was closed during the 2nd World War from 1941 to 1945 although the bowling club committee continued to meet. After the war voluntary help armed with scythes, shears, and even a pair of horses and mowing machine was used to cut the long grass and gradually the green recovered.
The original bowls pavilion was erected in 1922 at a cost of £69 pounds 16 shillings and 7 pence. Committee meetings were held around the fire but it could get a bit smoky particularly if a bird had decided to nest in the chimney. Later on, the old pavilion was used as a storeroom for the Bowling Club and Comberbach Memorial Hall. When the new village hall was built in 2002 the old bowls pavilion building was demolished and a new store built adjacent to the new Hall.
The present bowls pavilion was erected in 1963 and with the interior fittings cost £1,000. Toilets were added in 1981 costing over £2,000. The extension to the pavilion, built-in 1984 cost £6,000. A small bar was installed in 1980 and was initially run by a sub-committee under the guidance of J. Roberts. The bar has been extended and re-positioned in the pavilion in 1993. G. Kellett manages the bar and over the years the income from the bar has provided a valuable asset that has been used to maintain the bowling green and undertake improvements to the green surrounds and pavilion.
The floodlights were completed in 1974 and most of the money for these was raised by a sponsored 24 hours continuous bowls match. Those taking part were C.Peters, G Kellett, J Kellett, D Jones, P Jones, R Agnew, R Gregory, D Thurlwell, and S Hubbard. The bowling started at 12 noon on a Saturday and played throughout the night until 12 noon on the following Sunday. The bowlers all aged a bit when a figure dressed all in white appeared from behind the bushes at 2 am! Was this the “Marbury Lady”?
Throughout its history, the club has been lucky to have dedicated officers some of whom have been long-serving. Mr. Edward Cowap was Chairman for 25 years, followed by Mr. J Blain for 23 years, Mr. G Robinson for 26 years, Mr. A Parker for 12 years, Mr. G Kellett 3 years, and the present Chairman Mr. A Robinson since 2009. Mr. J M Jones Snr was a committeeman for 40 years, 16 of those as Secretary. Mr. F Jones was the Secretary for 30 years. Mr. F Jones Snr helped in the making of the green and was a committeeman for 35 years. Mr. J Mather was the Treasurer for 20 years and also a local councilor and Mather Drive is named after him. Mr. J M Jones was the Treasurer for 50 years, starting in 1960, and also Secretary since 1988. The current Secretary is Mrs. C Thurlwell and the current Treasurer is D.Jones.
The club has been lucky also to have good financial support from its Vice Presidents and Presidents. Mr. T.Woodcock has been a VP since 1946 and Mr. H Woodcock was a VP for 20 years and the President from 1966 until 2003. The current President Mr. P Ford took office in 2003.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the club held an Open Floodlight completion at the end of the bowling season which had an entry of 256 players every year. The competition was organized by the member, Colin Peters, and attracted bowlers from Cheshire, Lancashire, North Wales, Derbyshire, and the Midlands. The competition had various sponsors including Northwich Glass, Moore And Brock, and Harrisons Poultry. The competition enhanced the reputation of Comberbach as a bowling club. The winners of the Open Floodlight Competition are recorded on a prize shield which is held in the club pavilion.