The initial Founding of the club
Prior to the founding of the club, the green existed and was maintained by the local parish council who charged a greed fee for anyone wishing to play on it.
In 1955 a group of locals who played regularly at the park decided to form an official club so that they could enter a team in the local bowls league, and at 7:45pm on September 13th 1955 they held the inaugural meeting in the Park Hotel Chaddesden which was attended by a total of 29 people.
At this meeting the club was officially formed, a committee was elected, annual subscriptions were agreed on and they decided to enter 1 team into the South Derbyshire Amateur Crown Green Bowls association.
While there are no official records prior to this inaugural meeting there is evidence that the members had been meeting regularly to play bowls and had formed an unofficial club as the following details were extracted from the minutes of the inaugural meeting.
- At the meeting the elected treasurer reported that £17-07-00 had been subscripted by intending members of the club.
- At the same meeting a cup had been presented by a local person for an annual competition and thanks were expressed to the green keeper for the condition of the green which they said had improved 100% over the previous year.
- The minutes also included thanks to ladies who had provided refreshments for a friendly match with Celanese.
- There was mention of Mr T Duerdin (who was not present at the meeting) being the winner of the club championship in the previous year.
From the inaugural meeting onwards the minutes have been recorded in various minute books which have been retained and handed down to each succeeding secretary throughout the history of the club. It is from these minute books that this history has been extracted.
From these early minutes it was clear that the aims of forming the club were to promote the game of bowls to members of the parish and for the club members to increase their bowling ability and to ultimately represent the club at the highest possible levels.
The Early Years
In the early years the main meetings of the club were the Annual General meeting in October/November of each year and a pre-season meeting in February/March of the following year, all members were encouraged to attend both of these meetings and between these meetings the committee met on an ad-hoc basis as thought necessary.
This format of holding two main meetings each year has continued and The Pre-Season and AGM are still the only meetings at which club rules can be voted on and amended.
These early years only had 2 or 3 committee meetings per year but as the club grew these became more regular and at a committee meeting on 14th May 1980 it was decided that the committee should meet on a monthly basis, a practice which we still try to follow.
The early years of the club were a hand to mouth existence, in 1957 the club decided to form a second team but with 10 members needed per team and an average of 22 members attending each AGM this did not leave a lot of room for expansion or fund raising.
In these early days there was lots of mention of getting the name of Chaddesden Park Bowls Club known within the league and for promoting the club locally. Members were encouraged to take part in external competitions and there was talk of sponsoring players in some of the national competitions if they were good enough.
There were also few amenities in the early years, while there was accommodation for the park keeper, there was no official accommodation for club members and refreshments consisted of members bringing flasks of tea or coffee. There was no shelter from inclement weather and toilet facilities only existed until the park keeper went home at approximately 8:30.
The Wilderness Years (I couldn't think of a better name for them)
The years from 1958 up to 1978 were not particularly exciting for the club as we existed with no more than two Men's teams running in the South Derbyshire league and for many of these years keeping the club going was the main order of the day.
While the club had some individual successes and one or two team victories to report, the main issues were the condition of the green which had been the cause of several members resigning and the general lack of facilities at the club.
A major turning point for the club was in 1979 when a group of ladies asked to join the club and form a ladies section. The ladies brought with them new male members and the club was able to enter new teams in the South Derbyshire Men's leagues and Ladies leagues.
In 1982 after much campaigning from committee members, the club eventually got agreement from the council for extensions to the facilities at the club, the work on the park pavilion started in 1983 and was eventually finished in 1984.
The Later years
From the opening of the park Pavilion in 1984 the club started to grow and attract many new members. With only one green, availability was limited and from the AGM in 1988 to the AGM in 1990 the club had a limit on membership numbers.
The limit on membership numbers was removed at the AGM in 1990 as we had been promised a new green and this promise was eventually realised in September 1991 when work on the Willow Green Started. The turf for this green was eventually laid on 17th March 1992 and the green was available for use several weeks later (once the turf had been allowed time to knit).
The opening of the new green gave us additional capacity and we applied for membership of the Belper League and submitted teams to run in the Saturday Singles, Wednesday Doubles and over 55's leagues.
An irrigation system for the Park green and Willow green was installed in 1992 and in November 1993 the scoring hut was erected on the willow green.
We currently run 18-19 league teams, we hold 19 internal competitions each year and countless numbers of round robins and friendly competitions.
The future of the club is unknown however for the club to continue it must attract new members and therefore this is always our number one priority.
The future of Bowls is more of a certainty, Bowls is a social game where players of all ages, sexes and abilities can partake and compete against each other individually or within teams. We may be seen as a game that attracts the older members of society but the truth is that many of our better players started when they were youngsters and once you start playing it is rare for anyone to completely give up the game.
The future of Bowls in the county however is a concern as there are many clubs who operate from Council owned greens, the costs of running these is starting to become an issue with the Council asking for £2,000-£3,000 per year in licence fees. Due to these increased fees many smaller clubs are having to combine with other clubs or fold, leaving their members with further to travel to continue playing the game they love.
While the initial aims of the club was to promote the game of bowls to local parishioners, it appears that 55 years later, if we are to continue, we are still faced with the same basic aims of promoting the game and our club to other members of the community and trying to improve our game.