Essex County Bowling Club – A Potted History

More in-depth history is available from the club on request.

In 1906 a group of bowls enthusiasts formed themselves into a club and in May of that year the Essex County Bowling Club was established with an original membership of 78. Full use of the green at Chalkwell Park was made in 1906 and it became obvious that, with an increase in membership, improved and larger accommodation for members and visitors would be necessary.

For this purpose the Essex County Bowling Club Limited was formed with many members of the Club as shareholders and the present ground in Imperial Avenue. One green measuring 120 feet was laid with Cumberland turf at a cost of £250 and the original pavilion was built at a cost of £350.

On 6th July 1907 the South Green was officially opened in perfect weather and in the presence of 300 members, visitors and friends. It was soon apparent that with the increase in membership a second green was required. The following year on 8th May 1908 the North green was completed and officially opened.

On Sunday, 12 August 1917 a bomb fell on the adjoining tennis court and the south green was smothered by debris without serious damage being caused to the green.The North and South greens were both re-laid in 1922 at a cost of £1450.

In November 1924 the pavilion was damaged by fire, the present pavilion was built on part of the ground then being used for tennis and croquet and opened by the Mayor on Presidents day in June 1925.

In July 1931 the international matches of the English Bowling Association were played on the greens with teams from Scotland, Wales, Ireland and England, engaging in keen rivalry for three day- Wales being the eventual winners. Touring clubs from New Zealand, South Africa, Hong Kong, Canada and other parts of the Commonwealth have also been entertained here.

In 1956 the membership was 180 Full Paying Members and 60 Social Club Members.

In the mid sixties a number of members of the club, interested in playing Indoor Bowls during the winter months, got together with leading members of local clubs and negotiated a licence from the Essex County Bowling Club Limited and also obtained a Bank Guarantee from the Company which, together with monies raised by loans and bonds, enabled the E.C.I.B.C. to be formed as a separate club. Play started in the newly erected Indoor Green in January 1968.

In 1975 the club’s Cadet Section was formed.

In 1975/76 ECBC’s P. Goyot, S. Hooper and A. Thorpe were the National Indoor triples champions.

In June 1977 the Club office was destroyed and the pavilion was seriously damaged by fire. The pavilion was re-roofed and repaired and brought back into use in December 1977.

In 1980 the Indoor Club did not renew its licence so that as from 1st May 1980 all bowling was administrated by the E.C.B.C. as one Club divided into sections, i.e. Men Outdoor and Indoor, Ladies Indoor and Social.

In 1981/82 ECBC were the Yetton Trophy National Champions

Further major improvements took place during 1985 when the new Bar was built, the Indoor Bowling Pavilion and Lounge area were linked, carpeted and furnished and the Indoor Pavilion Ceiling was insulated all at a cost of £44000.

In 1986/87/89/90/91/92/93/94/95 Evelyn Schooling was selected to represent England in the Indoor British International series.

In 1987 a further extension was added to the facility by the enlargement of the Men’s changing room, which enabled the Ladies to move into a larger room, leaving their old room to be used as a conference room. Following this, the severe storms and gales damaged the indoor arena roof resulting in major repairs being undertaken. Thankfully by this point the fillip given to Bowls through T.V. coverage had resulted in Full Membership and waiting lists for the Indoor Section which enabled the Club to look towards the future with confidence. It also meant that through all these improvements and repairs the club never had to borrow any money.

In 1989 Paul Maynard & Dave McCathie won the Outdoor National Pairs Championship at Worthing. 

In 1989/90 Richard Hart won the National Champion of Champions and ECBC were again the Yetton Trophy National Champions.

In 1991/92 Evelyn Schooling was the English Women’s Indoor Bowling Association President.

In 1995 ECIBC were Egham Trophy National Champions.

In 1998 the indoor AGM carried a proposal to require the Club to embark on a major restructuring by lowering the ceiling, installing diffused lighting, improving the heating system, installing new carpeting on the viewing area surrounding the rinks.  The entire project was managed by a steering committee and the entire project cost exceeded £135,000.

In 2005 the old clubhouse was renovated, inside and outside by volunteers from the members, at a cost of £35,000. Work was also carried out by members in refurbishing the existing clubhouse in readiness for the clubs centenary in 2006.

In 2006, during the Clubs Centenary year, a number of top class events took place against Associations, clubs and guests. The indoor arena was decked out as a restaurant, for 120 guests, to hold the centenary dinner and entertainment.

In 2006/07 Evelyn Schooling was the English Women’s Indoor Bowling Association President for the second time.

In 2008/09 ECBC’s John Andrews, Bobby Locke, Jim Bunce and Martyn Jackson were the Indoor National Over 60’s Fours champions.

In 2009, following an unsuccessful trail the previous year, Edward Morris was called up to the U25 National Trial where he was successful in gaining a place in the Junior England team.

In 2010 club member John Stewart arranged for the National Police Association to hold their Championship at the club, with players from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales participating. This event continued to be played at the club until 2015.

Club member David Johnson became President of Essex County Bowling Association.

In 2010/11 ECBC were National Denny Plate winners.

In 2012/13 Jim Bunce was the Essex County Indoor Bowling Association President.

In 2013 with the inauguration of the Equality Act and a falling in the outdoor member’s numbers after one hundred years plus the membership agreed to set up a Ladies Outdoor Section.

Lloyd Sabatini & Edward Morris won the Outdoor National Pairs Championship at Worthing. They both received call ups for the England National Trial following this success.

In 2014 a Ladies Outdoor section was created with an initial membership of 2 ladies which increased very quickly over the following years.

Edward Morris was once again called up for the England National Trial and James Fuge was called up for the Under 18 National Trial.

In 2015 was a great year for the club with Edward Morris being called up once again for the National Trial and he was successful in gaining a place in the England team – playing the British Isles International Series in 2016 in Llandrindod Wells, helping England to win the title - defeating Wales in the final match by 1 shot. James Fuge was called up for the National U25 Trial and he too was successful in gaining a place in the England team.

In 2016 Edward Morris was called up to represent England in tournaments held in Hong Kong and China in March.

During the summer months of 2016 the Indoor arena undertook a total facelift, spending in the region of £160,000 on: -

  • upgraded electrical supply
  • installation of air conditioning in the arena, restaurant/bar area and the office
  • replacement LED lighting
  • a new blue carpet
  • walls & panelling re painted
  • surrounding carpet cleaned

In 2016/17 John Stewart was the National Over 60’s Singles champion.

In 2017 Sue Kemp and Edward Morris teamed up with Elaine Score (Springhouse BC) and Mark Nullmeyers (Wanstead Central BC) to win the National Mixed Fours.

James Fuge, Aaron Lyons, Neil Jackson and Edward Morris were in the Essex squad who lifted the Balcomb Trophy.

Edward Morris and Elaine Score were runners-up in the National Mixed Pairs.

Following these achievements Edward Morris was awarded the title of Bowls England Bowler of the Year - the first bowler from Essex to win this prestigious award.

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