HISTORY OF BATCHWOOD HALL BOWLING CLUB
Batchwood Hall Bowling Club came into existence in 1966 as a result of the compulsory purchase of land occupied by the Conservative and Unionist Club in Waddington Road where you will now see the Drovers Way multi-storey car park and the Marks & Spencer delivery bay. The men's bowling facilities there were known as the Conservative and Unionist Club and the ladies' as Spencer Park Ladies.
As part of the negotiations the Council agreed to build a Green and Clubhouse at Batchwood Hall on land that was then an old orchard. At first 3 rinks were for the Club, and 3 for the public and the Council were to have an employee to issue tickets to the public No doubt due to cost, this arrangement did not last and the duty was soon passed to club members. Later the council allowed the club use of four rinks and more recently this has been increased to five, with dispensation to use all 6 on pre-agreed special occasions.
Originally we were not a mixed club, but one with lady and men members, each with its own committee, separate matches and accounts, and conduct of its own affairs. There was also a Management Committee on which both sections were represented to conduct matters of concern to both sections, liaison with the council and its leisure services, and arranging social events such as Charity Days, Opening Day, Annual Dinner Dance, and mixed matches, played normally on a Sunday.
Over the years cooperation between the Ladies' and Men's Sections has steadily improved and at the AGM on 22nd February 2000 it was agreed that the finances of the two sections would be merged under the Club Hon Treasurer so we are now effectively one mixed Club. However the organisation of Bowls at District, County, and National level makes it expedient to maintain the two sections together with a Management Committee as hitherto.
Whilst many members, both men and ladies, still prefer single sex matches, the number of mixed matches has gradually increased and at last years AGM it was agreed that all roll ups would in future be mixed We also introduced a mixed day triples league. And more recently, a club open evening on Mondays, to which friends, family, and prospective members are invited.
In December 2005 the clubhouse extension began which will comprise new toilets (including disabled facilities), a modern kitchen and a larger social area.
Several events have happened since this history was last updated the main one being an arson attack following the 2011 London riots. The effects of this were that our clubhouse was burnt to the ground causing extensive damage to the green as well as the adjacent Tennis and Golf centre. Some youths were arrested at the time but, despite being in the area, it could not be proved they were responsible.
After various meetings with the council and leisure connections it was agreed that the green be dug up and replaced including the drainage system and ditch surrounds. A new pavilion was also approved but relocated to a new position beside the green. Work on the green and ditch began in 2012 and although the ditch and surrounds were of first class construction the newly laid lawn was not! The consequence was that in August the turf was removed the surface redug, relevelled and finally seeded. Meanwhile the club house design and the location were agreed and sent for planning permission. These being approved, work was expected to start and completion promised for May 1st, however, the plans were late in being sent to the building firm and the completion date being changed to July 31st.
A portacabin was provided for our immediate use until the pavilion was ready, which was a make-do situation. We were fortunate in not losing any members over it.
The new green is excellent to play on and should provide many years of competitive playing.
We also hope it will be many years before this history needs to be updated.
The year 2016 was our 50th anniversary year and many celebrations were planned. As well as ’Bowls England’, ‘Hertfordshire County’ matches and ‘St Albans District’, we played a celebratory match against The Royal Hospital, namely ‘The Chelsea Pensioners’. It was a very proud moment. In all the matches we were lucky with the weather as the sun shone brightly on all occasions
This was definitely a year to remember.
In 2017we hope to increase our membership and the committee is working hard to achieve this.
We are also looking forward to a return match with the Chelsea Pensioners playing at their ‘barracks’.