Plymstock Bowling Club was founded in 1936 by four enthusiastic male bowlers who leased the ground, and after recruiting about 33 members, they built the Green and the Clubhouse.
The original clubhouse stood for 47 years gradually being enlarged and improved, eventually housing a kitchen and a sun lounge. Most of the money was raised from the members by the way of interest free loans. The original lease expired in 1951, and was renewed for a further 15 years, and a fund was raised to buy the freehold, but a Mrs Bootyman, the widow of one of the founders, bought the land as a gift for the club in memory of her husband with a proviso, that if the club was disbanded, the land should revert to the local authority for recreation purposes.
The present clubhouse was built in 1984. It has since been improved and extended, and is looked after by a Maintenance Teams, made up of some of the members.
The Green was maintained by the members and various specialists until 1984, at which time a full time green keeper was employed.
Since then it has reverted back to being looked after by the members under the direction of the Green Marshall, with some specialist help as required. The Green and clubhouse are much admired by visiting teams.
The Men’s section plays in the local leagues, national, and county competitions. They also play in club competitions and friendly mixed games jointly with the ladies.
The Ladies section was started in 1947 with 15 ladies playing Tuesday/Thursday afternoons only, and since it was formed, has produced four county presidents, and has recently celebrated its diamond jubilee. Now the ladies take part in the local leagues, and national and county competitions, as well as club competitions and mixed friendly games, with the men, against other local and touring bowling clubs.
Additional information from Fred Burch [former Club President]
It was the club’s Golden Jubilee Year in 1986 and the Chairman at the time Hugh Lidstone, produced a booklet for the occasion covering the history of from 1936 to 1986.
Hugh Lidstone instigated most of the improvements to the club and this is why The Lounge is called The Lidstone Lounge.
It can be seen, from some of the old photographs that the clubhouse was just an old shed, which served the club for 47 years. Over the years various additions were made, a kitchen and sun lounge were added in 1976 and in 1976 the addition of a bar. The old building were finally demolished in 1983.
The existing pavilion was completed in 1984, with some financial help form |The Sports Council. The main capital being raised by members loans totaling £40,000.00. At the start of the 1986 season there was just £9000.00 of the loans outstanding. The improvements meant that the club could be used for Short Mat Bowls, Bingo, Darts and Social Events at weekends.
At that time the bowling green had the unenviable reputation of being one of the worst greens in Plymouth. The Vice-Chairman, at the time, made a proposal that a synthetic surface be laid. The cost was found to be in excess of £50,00.00, so the Management Committee decided to find a contractor who could bring the green up to an acceptable standard. Up until this time, all work had been carried out by club members using hired equipment [sometimes at their own expense].
The front door, at that time was in the middle of the wall facing the green with a path running along in front of the club.It was decided to build a sun lounge along the length of the building to assist spectators who wished to watch the games from inside the club building.
This was done under the direction of the then Building Manager, and the Saturday workers to build it, during the 1987 closed season and this completed for opening day in 1988.
In 1989 it was proposed by The Management Committee to extend the club and provide a lounge area with comfortable seating, a new bar, toilets and men’s changing room.
Plans were drawn up, submitted to The Planning Department and passed. The project being completed in 1990 at a cost of £45,000.00. Once again the club had gone to its members to raise the money and The Treasurer, at the time, soon had the required cash. One of the members was Area Sales Manager for Bass Breweries and he managed to negotiate an interest free loan to cover all outstanding loans.
The walls, which had been wallpapered, were covered with wood effect paneling. All work being carried out by club members.
After all loans had been repaid, the club had an amount of money available, so it was decided to install a built in watering system for the green. The system being used, at the time, was hydraulic and labour intensive. The system had to be dragged across the green, connected to the water main and then gradually moved across the green. It normally took at least an hour to cover the whole of the green. In 1998 a wall was built around the green and The Pump House. A company specialising in irrigation systems installed the system in time for the start of the 1999 season.
In 2000, the Green-keeper at time retired and a proposal was made, at The AGM, to form a Green Team, who would carry out all of the required work on the green, under the direction of The Green Marshall. This was passed and The Green team was formed. It was suggested, at the time, that it would never work using volunteers. The Green Team still look after the green with great success and have saved the club many thousands of pounds.
A new scoreboard was built and new machinery acquired along with a shed to keep it in. The furniture in the lounge was reupholstered, in a new colour and new carpets were fitted throughout.
The club has always had a good group of volunteers, who carry out most of the work needed, usually on a Saturday morning. Long may this continue.
Throughout the closed season 2021 -2022 volunteers from Plymstock Bowling Club, under the guidance of John Bunker, completed a new covered seating area and storage building.
Funds for this project were provided by Government Covid 19 Grants topped up from club funds.
The group of dedicated volunteers worked Saturdays, Tuesdays and Thursdays to complete the work in time for the opening of the 2022 Lawn Bowls Season.
Pictures detailing the progress, from start to finish, can be found in the “Gallery” section of the club’s website.
To be continued:-