Bowling Club
  Est 1912   Club History

1912 to 2014

In 1912 a 14 year lease agreement at £2 2s per year, was reached with Col. Henry Cubitt (later Lord Ashcombe) to secure a small pocket of land at Drill Hall Road in Dorking, to establish Dorking Bowling Club. The expenditure to set up the ground etc was £220 made up of :-

To lay and level the ground £110
Pavilion £60
Fencing £16
Connection of water £12
Roller etc £22

The arrangement allowed only for the building of a pavilion, tool shed and urinal and not to dig up anything other than the ground for the purpose of levelling and laying of a bowling green. They did such a good job of green, that it was said to be the best in the county.

Before the end of the lease agreement in 1921, the club purchased the land for the sum of £250.

The green was officially opened by Col. Cubitt on 30th April 1912 who agreed to be the clubs first president, a post he held until 1943. Subscription charges for the first year was 10 Shillings and 6 pence, which in relative terms was close to one weeks wages for the average person working and living in Dorking.

In 1913 the club adopted the Dorking Cockrell as their emblem and started playing against other neighbouring clubs.

In 1917 a proposal was put forward to allow ladies to be admitted to the club, but despite playing a crucial role helping with teas and cleaning, the proposition was turned down by a casting vote from the club chairman. Another vote held in 1920 had the same result and it was not until 1964 ladies were eventually admitted.

Although the club activities continued throughout the second world war, membership declined due to National Service obligations. After the war, membership failed to increase and by the late 1950's there were only 37 playing and 15 non playing members. When eventually ladies were admitted to the club in 1964 they increased the membership by 13.

In the early 1960's the club was honoured by the appointment of Mr W J Robins a local business man and life time member of the club, as President of The Surrey Bowling Association.

The club had use of the Drill Hall and in 1968 when it was sold to Surrey County Council, it was decided to increase the accommodation of the club by adding a cedar wood extension for changing rooms now used by the mens visiting team.

By the 1970's for the first time the club had over 100 members which still applies today.

Over the years the club has achieved a long list of successes at County level including County level Singles, Triples Champtionships and Surrey Fours.

75 Years Ago (Extracts from the Advertiser 1934)

Should a Women’s section of Dorking Bowling Club be formed ?

That question was debated at the annual meeting of the club held on Thursday evening.

Following an interesting debate in which diverse views were expressed, a resolution was accepted suggesting that names of women who desired to play should be submitted to the committee who should then if there was sufficient demand, call a special meeting of members.

Mr Harrison proposed that a women’s section be formed which was seconded by Mr W Botting.

It was proposed that women should be asked to pay a small entrance fee, a small subscription and a small green fee.

The women would have the use of one rink at certain times probably in the afternoons. The women would run their own section entirely.

The women have no voice in the control of the club.

No male members would be expected to play with the women and the women would not be expected to play with the men.

Some members declared frankly that they would dislike having women on the green.

They preferred to think that when they went to the green in the evenings they would be away from their womenfolk for a while.

“Bowls”  said one member “is one of the last strongholds of the weaker sex as I suppose we must call ourselves”

Other members suggested that the admission of women would increase the clubs revenue.

A fear was expressed that the presence of women players would seriously effect the men’s chances of securing a game when they reached the green late in the evening, it being pointed out that sometimes the green was fully occupied. The reply given to that the women if allowed to form a section allied to the club would play in the afternoons.

Another member considered that a “sporty” game was impossible with women. They could not play a long jack and if a man skittled their woods, he was not acting like a gentleman.

2012 was a special year for Dorking Bowling Club.

It was the centenary of the club at their headquarters at Drill Hall Road. Throughout the season special events were arranged both on the green and off it.

The club was bedecked in special centenary club colours admired by everyone that visited.

In June the club held a week of celebratory events that included a visit by the Surrey Bowling Association.

There were number of memorable events including a river trip at Guildford and a centenary dinner dance at Wotton House.

During the season every member was presented with a gift bag to commemorate the club’s landmark and a history of the club was published in the local paper.

The clubroom itself was given a dramatic make-over to bring it thoroughly up to date and even more inviting for members.

All work was done voluntarily by members themselves and proves what can be achieved. As the club prepares for the 2013 season it continues to grow from strength to strength with a strong bond amongst its many members.

Many thanks to Greta Morley for the Club History