Frensham RBL Bowls Club

Using information gleaned from the Bowls Club’s hand-written minutes the following is a brief account of the Club’s formation and history over the last 88 years.

The bowling green had been constructed in 1928 by the Frensham Parish Council on ground that was formally owned by the Hollowdene Estate which later gave the rest of the meadow that is now known as Hollowdene Recreation Ground. Originally the bowling green and tennis courts along with a small clubhouse (now the Bowls Club equipment shed) were all that was there. Cricket and football were played in the grounds of Pierrepont House at Millbridge.

By 1935 there was enough interest in playing bowls amongst the British Legion Club members that a meeting was arranged under the chairmanship of Maj. Gen. Sir Alfred Blenkinsop and a proposal was made by Mr H J Baker and seconded by Maj. Marsden that a British Legion Bowls Club be formed. Prior to the meeting a letter had been received from Frensham Parish Council offering the use of two rinks on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. and Saturdays at 2.30 p.m. exclusively for a bowls club at the cost of £3:3:0 for a season.

The Secretary of the Legion Club proposed that the Bowls Club should have its own Secretary and Mr Wally Dadson was proposed, seconded and elected. Mr Harold Morby was elected Treasurer and Mr Harry Baker as Chairman. Two further Committee members, Austen Eldridge and Tom Osbourne were elected and the Bowls Club was up and running on May 2nd.
The following week on May 8th the Committee met and the rules of the Club were established: Club would be called Frensham British Legion Bowls Club but members who were not Legion members would not be excluded; Annual membership 4/- or 5/- if paid monthly over 5 months; Visitors could play accompanied by a member at 3d an hour; AGM would take place in January; Club would be managed by the Committee who would also settle all disputes and select teams.

Fixtures were confirmed against Elstead and Hindhead and by May 17th the membership stood at 26 with Maj. Gen. Sir Alfred Blenkinsop being elected President.The Club went from strength to strength both on the green and financially with Wally Dadson being Secretary for 13 consecutive years and Harold Morby , Treasurer for 26 years unbroken! Mr Edward Hunter became President in 1936 on Sir Alfred’s death and continued in that role for 20 years. He presented the Club with the Hunter Cup in 1939 to be competed for annually by village clubs that Frensham played against. This competition has been running for 75 years (2014) and the first winners, Liphook won it again for the second time in its anniversary year! Frensham have had successes in it over the years in 1940, 1948, 1959, 1964, 1981, 1984, 1992/93 and 1997.

Other notable events and personalities over the years include: 1940 and 1942 Frensham won the Surrey British Legion Cup; 1949 Joe Heath becomes Chairman (10 years in office); 1950 Capt. Young elected Secretary (8 years in office); 1952 Affiliation to Surrey County Bowling Association; 1954 First female Bowls Club member; 1963 Official document from Frensham Parish Council allowing use of newly built Len Heath Memorial Pavilion; 1977 Dorothy Poulsom President, Mrs Petrovitch (daughter of Edward Hunter) Vice-President, Don Bone Chairman and Treasurer (33 years service in latter); 1981 Serious shortage of players; Dennis Ling joins greenkeeping team (25+ years in office); 1987 Mick Peters elected Secretary (14 years in office); 1995 Ian Rogers takes over Chair and sees Club into 21st Century as well as organising many Club Tours; 1997 Sue Baldwin takes over as Treasurer (retiring in 2017); 1999 Ted Ambrose and John Chuter share President and Vice-President roles for several years; 2003 Clubhouse extension Committee formed under Chairman of Derek Eyre; Anthea Dore and Gordon Haytree instrumental in getting plans underway and by 2006 extension finally opened to include toilets and mixed changing facility. 2021 Robin Dibdin steps down as Chairman after nearly two decades in office and Sheila Haytree steps down after 2 three year terms as President and over 15+ years in various roles as Fixture Secretary, Captain and Vice-Captain.

There have of course been many, many other members down the years who have contributed to the well-being of the Club and it is impossible to mention them all. However, it is thanks to each and every one of them that the Club still exists today in its 89th Year.