History of the Game of Bowls  go to Links

A    Patron’s Potted History
of
Den Bowling Club
Teignmouth

The Usual Excuses

 

In compiling this history I have made no attempt to record past or present members, except where relevant to the Club, as I do not want to spend the next few years dodging incensed glances or exasperated egos of those accidentally omitted.

          Gathering information about this Club has been like getting certain Members to buy a round of drinks or give of themselves for the Club. So, I have had to rely on the very good offices of the Westcountry Studies Library, Exeter; Teignmouth Museum; and Teignmouth Library for being able to peruse through a century or more copies of the Teignmouth Post and Gazette and Teignmouth Urban District Council Minutes (excuse the yawns), plus my own databases of local history gathered from my book dealing days.

          So, be prepared for the occasional gap caused by those missing years; or the running together of some years to hopefully make a sort of sense.

          As usual, any mistakes are mine and mine alone and I trust that Members will forgive any errors or omissions.

          May I take this opportunity to wish Den Bowling Club every success and that you continue to grow from strength to strength during your next hundred years.

          Finally, the history of any club would be incomplete without reference, and very many thanks, to those marvellous individual Club members, both past and present, which have contributed to the success of the Club by their hard work and dedication over the years. I salute you and wish there were more of you.

 

 

 

The Bowling Green

 

Without the persistent pressure from the Rate Payers Association (RPA), it is debatable as to whether the bowling green would have been built when it was. 

          From the early 1900s they, and other likeminded citizens, had petitioned Teignmouth Urban District Council (TUDC) for a bowling green to be built in Teignmouth. But, time and again the Council replied that they regretted that they had no power to lay down a bowling green.

          The first cracks in the Council’s stance occurred at a Council meeting on the 7th March 1905, when the Council decided that the matter would be considered when the time for laying out the Bitton Estate arose.

          It was on the 6th May 1905, after a deputation from the RPA (consisting of Messrs. Rudkin, Day, Hambly, Harris and Young), urged for the laying of a bowling green, that a Special Council Committee (SCC) (of Councillors Hayman, Poole, Morrison, Turpin), was set up to confer with the RPA.

          At last the final breakthrough occurred on the 5th May 1908, when the TUDC further considered this question and ultimately decided to provide a bowling green on the Den in front of Den Crescent, near Courtenay Place.

          On the 11th December 1908 the SCC and the TUDC were told that the initial cost of seeding the bowling green would be £6, and that although this would result in a better bowling green it would be doubtful whether the bowling green would be fit for play next summer, whereas turf could be obtained, at an estimate of £26, and the bowling green could be used next summer.  The laying of turf was chosen and this was removed from Bitton for that purpose.

          So the first sods (No, no that’s grass, not bowlers, dear reader) were laid for the Bowling Green in late 1908.

          On the afternoon of Saturday July 3rd 1909, the Den Bowling Green was officially opened by the chairman of TUDC, Mr Frederick Slocombe J.P. (who became TBC’s first President). He was presented with a set of woods, suitably inscribed, which he put to good use to declare the green open.

          An exhibition match twixt the Exeter and Paignton Clubs then took place, which resulted in a win for the Exeter Clubs.

          During an interval in this game a large party of guests and players were entertained at The Den Crescent Hotel (now the Royal British Legion) by Mr Slocombe. After the inevitable toasts and speeches he paid tribute, as we should, to the RPA for their urging of the Council about the necessity for the bowling green by saying, “Although the Association had been unable to ride themselves they had always spurred on the jackasses.”

          As a little addendum to the above, those of you who have seen early photographs of straw-hatted gentlemen lounging on a wooden platform next to the bowling green, with their feet resting on part opened drawers; that was the Bandstand built in June of 1909 and the drawers were there for the accommodation of the bowlers’ woods. Well, it was put to use on opening day by the Teignmouth Military and Town Band, under Bandmaster Holwill, who played a selection of music during the afternoon.  So don’t moan about fairs and fetes today.

 

 

 

 

The History of Den Bowling Club

1910 - 2010

 

For all practical purposes, Den Bowling Club came into being on Tuesday 3rd May 1910, when TUDC gave consent to Teignmouth Bowling Club for the use of 4 rinks on the Den bowling green for matches, subject to those matches being held on alternative Thursdays and Saturdays, and that they shall be limited to 2½ hours duration.

          Its first bowling season commenced on Saturday May 14th 1910, with the Club possessing both a Thursday and a Saturday team (each with its own Captain, Vice-Captain Etc.), and a membership total of over 50.  The initial membership fee was half-a-crown (12.5p).

          Mr W. L. Mugford, the Club’s first Hon. Secretary, had managed to arrange a fixture list of matches against the following local Clubs; Bishopsteignton, Torrington, Dawlish, Dartmouth, Newton Abbot, Exeter Reserves, Exonian Reserves, Plymouth Reserves, St Marychurch Reserves, Torquay Reserves, and Totnes Reserves.

          The first of these was the Saturday team’s away match against Newton Abbot, at Courtenay Park, on June 4th 1910 (matches then consisted of four games of eleven ends played on each rink), which, I’m afraid; they lost, as did the Thursday team in their away match at Bishopsteignton.

          1911, saw the following four matches added to the bowling Club’s fixture list; Paignton, Plymouth Press, Plymouth Corporate Officers, and the first out of the county visitors Swansea; which was played on the evening of Monday 14th August against the Thursday team, with the visitors winning by 10 points.

          In addition, five extra matches were played and won; two of which were the soon to be proved very popular matches against visitors residing in the town.

          During 1911, the town Surveyor was instructed to build some temporary steps, to provide access to the bowling green, at the corner nearest the Triangle (perhaps this was a sop to that particular local old curmudgeon who used to make a point of walking diagonally across the bowling green each day, to prove his right of way); but then the question of a fence around the bowling green first arose at a Council meeting, as well; and the returfing of certain portions of the bowling green were discussed by TUDC (turf that was purchased from Combeinteignhead, at the cost of 4/- per load, to be used).

          By 1912 one could well and truly say that the game of bowls had come to stay in Teignmouth, despite its many knockers. Or should that be the knockers of the Club? For all that Teignmouth Bowls Club paid TUDC for the use of four rinks, twice a week, each fortnight, still there were people moaning about the Bowls Club monopolising the green. 

          This was also the year when a petition signed by both Visitors and Townspeople was presented to TUDC, asking for proper lavatory accommodation to be provided for TBC, and could Season Tickets be issued for the green.

          On Tuesday 11th July 1912, Mr J. French, the Hon. Sec. of TBC, wrote to TUDC for permission to erect a Flagstaff and Flag on the Eastern corner of the Bank behind the bowling green, from which the Club Flag was to be flown.

          Because of the continual turf problems on the Den bowling green, TUDC now proposed a scheme to sow grass seed in portions of Cemetery Field, off Higher Buckeridge Road, for the purpose of providing turf for both the bowling green and Lawn Tennis Courts on the Den.

          The first bowling tournament played on the Den bowling green took place during the first week of May 1913. This was open to visitors who had been in the town over a week.  This tournament was such a success that a further two were held that year in August and September.

          Now is as good a time as any to explain to you about membership of the Bowls Club.

          For the first fifty plus years of its history, the Club, like a lot of other seaside bowling clubs, benefited from those city families who used to holiday in the town for a fortnight or more during the summer.  Quite a few of the heads of these families were members of bowling clubs in their home towns and not surprisingly joined Teignmouth Bowls Club.

          Ordinary membership was 2/6d (12½p); but if you paid a half a guinea (52½p) or more then you automatically became a Vice-President of the Club; which meant, that like a lot of other clubs, there were more Chiefs than Indians.

          Saturday 24th May 1913 brought the first of many Devon League matches to be played at the Den, between Dartmouth and Sir Francis Drake, Plymouth.  So, despite the usual poor quality of the turf (but that’s another story to be talked about later), there couldn’t have been too much wrong with the green.

          1913 was also the year that the possibility of a Private Green for Teignmouth first arose at the Club’s AGM.

          The 1914 season, saw the Club’s first attempt at the Mid-Devon League Bowling Shield start off with a winning away game at Bovey Tracey.

          This was also the year that an illustrated article about the Club, under the heading of “Famous Bowling Clubs,” appeared in The Bowling World magazine.

          On Tuesday 28th July over 90 bowlers entered for an open bowls competition, thrown open to visitors residing in both Teignmouth and Shaldon. Each competitor played six ends with woods of not less than a three bias.

          But, the icing on the cake, this year, was the winning of the Mid-Devon League. Teignmouth and Dawlish both had the same number of points, so a play off was arranged at Newton Abbot on Saturday 19th Sept, which Teignmouth won by 22 points.

          Oh, yes, and a tender, submitted by Mr G. E. Young, of £190/1/6d, was accepted by TUDC for building a urinal adjoining the bowling green.

          Despite the continuation of The First World War, the Bowls club tried to maintain its existence by playing friendly competitions among themselves, and the few visitors to the town, along with the Mid-Devon League matches.

          The only major thing that occurred during the war years, was the decision made at the 1916 AGM, held in March 1917, to have only one captain and vice-captain.

          Ever since the Club’s inception, there had been a captain and vice-captain for each team.  But over the years it had become such a struggle to get the Thursday team together.  It had got to the stage where members were declining to play for the Thursday team, yet still turned up to watch the match.  After a rather heated discussion, Mr Ford became the Club captain and Mr Uglow the vice-captain.

          By the time of the Club’s 1918 AGM (held on Monday 13th January 1919), things were almost back to normal, as the perennial chestnut of a Private green raised its head, yet again. It now appeared that £400 had been promised towards a private green and Mr J. French (one of the Club’s two hon. secs.), suggested that a Committee should be appointed to consider the matter.

          Bowling wise, 1919 proved to be a successful year for Teignmouth, as they not only won the Mid-Devon League, again, but two members of the Club (Messrs. V. Wakefield and J. Heath), contested the final of the Mid-Devon League Singles; with Mr. Wakefield triumphing.

          The following year on Thursday July 8th the Bowls club entertained the members of Weston-super-Mare BC, who were on tour. TBC won by two points.

          The Club, which now had a membership of 126, also managed to retain the Mid-Devon Shield winning the league without the need of a play off. Plus, the two club members who contested last years MDL singles final, namely Messrs. Wakefield and Heath, joined forces this year and won the Mid-Devon League Pairs.

          Besides the increase in season ticket prices (which brought about the ultimate resignation of one of the hon. secs.), the main talking point of 1921 arose when Jack Clampit, who, besides being a club member was also the Bowling Green groundsman, entered for, and won, the round of Devon Singles Championship at Torquay. One or two poor losers doubted his status as an amateur and the Club’s hon. sec. J. J. Carver had to produce evidence that Jack was not paid by the Club.  But some sore-headed losers took it further, by asking the advice of the English Bowling Association, who in turn had their opinion ratified by the International Bowling Board. This was that, “any player who acts as a groundsman for any monetary gain cannot take part in the Club’s matches, as such player is not an amateur.”

          Down here in Devon we call a stick used for stirring a “spuddle” and many a pub used to hang one in “spuddlers’ corner” — where the gossips and stirrers congregated. A rather apt name for the losers above, don’t you think?

           

Now, all you lady bowlers please brace yourselves, as there was a Ladies Singles competition held in the Club this year.  It was played over eleven ends, and in the semi-finals Mrs. T Pile beat Mrs. E. Lane, 13-6; whilst Mrs. F. J. Thick had a walkover of Mrs. Cowling. In the final Mrs. F.J. Thick beat Mrs. T. Pile, 16-8.

            In spite of the vicissitudes through which the Club passed this year, membership stood at 257 (that’s not a printing error). 

            In October last year the town Surveyor carried out the work of re-constructing the Den bowling green, at an estimated cost of £270, under the guidance of an expert engaged by the Council, a Mr. Lockie of London, at a cost of £85. Well, by the end of the 1922 season, the green was full of pits and there were a lot of disgruntled bowlers (both locally and nationally) not to mention red-faced Councilors. Eventually, in November, the Council decided to relay the bowling green at an estimated cost of £100, using Dartmoor turf that cost £16.

            On Friday October 13th 1922, about twenty bowlers assembled in the Committee Room of the Town Hall and decided to form a new bowling club for the town called “The Ness Bowling Club”. Initially they wished to share the use of the Den bowling green, (remember, this is the same green that the Council, many of whom were members of this new club, had complained about being over used by Teignmouth Bowls Club, to the detriment of the visitors) until they could build a Private Green.

            By the following season this new club had become the Winterbourne Tennis and Bowling Club Company Ltd.

            On the bowling front of 1922, Messrs. H.C. Moore, R.M. Turner and J. Coombes

became the Mid-Devon League Team champions, beating Totnes 8-7.

          1923 was the year the bowling Club decided to play their matches under the auspices of the English Bowling Association (EBA), so, of course, every bowler had to have their woods tested and stamped. TUDC decided that they were not going to have their woods tested (costs again), thereby excluding the usage of their woods in any Club or National competition.

          Even after some defections to Winterbourne, TBC still had a membership of 185, 85 of whom were visitors.

          Finally this year, subject to the cost being borne by the Bowls Club, the town Gas Manager carried out all the necessary work for providing a supply of gas to the bowling green hut.  Who said certain members produced enough of their own???

          Between 1925 and 1927, inclusive, nothing much has come to light concerning Teignmouth Bowling Club, besides the usual scorecards, so we’ll pass quickly on.

          1928 saw TBC winning the North section of the MDL, but losing by 4pts to Brixham in the final.

          Brace yourselves, ladies, as a knock-out, handicap ladies bowls competition was held on the 23rd August 1928, with 28 players entering, which Mrs Taylor, of Newton Abbot, won.

          A public meeting took place in the Town Hall on 5th Oct 1928, to consider the question raised by J. J. Carver (once TBC, now Winterbourne), about holding an Annual Open Bowling Tournament Week in Teignmouth, starting next year. After the usual amount of hot air was spouted, a Tournament Committee was formed with Mr Edward Palk, Mr George Young, and Capt William Toby representing the TUDC.

          Following an intrepid struggle, the final go ahead for the Teignmouth Open Bowls Tournament Week (TOBT) was given on 7th March 1929; it was to be held from 17th to 22nd June that year. Bowlers entered from all over the United Kingdom, as well as one all the way from Silverton, South Africa.

          Besides the TOBT that year, a visitors’ tournament was run on Wednesday 14th August, with 48 entries.

          The President of TBC, Mr George Rossiter, presented a new Club Badge mould to the Club, which by now had 152 members.

          It was touch-and-go for quite a while, in early 1930, as to whether the TOBT would take place that year, due to the attitude of some of the local Council. Eventually, TOBT opened on Monday 16th June, and to coincide with this a short ceremony took place, when the Chairman of TUDC, Mr. G. S. Young, unlocked the doors of the new chalet style Den Green Bowling Club Pavilion and declared it open.  The Club captain, Mr. J. King expressed the thanks of the 143 TBC members for TUDC providing them with such a pavilion, and Mr Rogers presented an enlarged photograph of members to the Club.

          The 21st Anniversary year of TBC opened with a very heated discussion in TUDC, as to whether G.W.R. Bowling Club could use the Den Bowling Green for their matches this year.  The Council’s first proposal was for them to use it during May and June only, with the rest of their matches to be played on the Shaldon Green. Other Councillors wanted GWR to play all their, mainly evening, matches on the Den Green, using the usual “flesh of one fowl of another”, quotation; conveniently forgetting their own past complaints about TBC monopolising the bowling green to the detriment of the visitors to Teignmouth, constantly wittering on about the Den Green being a public green. Eventually the first proposal was accepted.

          On the 1st May 1931 Mr. F. James (TUDC Chairman) bowled the first jack, whilst his wife bowled the first wood, thus opening the bowling green.

          During yet another busy season, 300 people watched the annual Visitors’ Tournament on the Den Green and TBC managed to defeat the Visitors in the first match of the season by 1 point, but, the Visitors had their revenge later, by beating TBC by 56 points in the return match.

          A decision was made at this year’s AGM to split the Secretary’s job into the following; General Hon. Secretary; Match Secretary; and Financial Secretary.

          Mr George Rossiter, TBC President, provided clocks at the Bowling Club Pavilion and The Pavilion Theatre, free of charge.

          1932 was the year that TBC, at last, won the County Trophy, defeating Plymouth Hoe Club in the final on 27th August at Torbay Country Club, Paignton.

          Messrs. J. Coombes; E. Shimell; F. Shimell; and W. Eastly won the rinks competition at TOBT; four members of the Club were selected and played for Devon; S. F. Bartlett; C. L. Brock; F. Shimell; and F. Willetts; and Mr J A Hammond was elected vice-chairman Mid-Devon League.

          1933 saw the first ticket for the Air Service between Teignmouth and Cardiff sold. So if your skip played badly, you knew where to send him.

          Messrs. J. Coombes; E. Shimell; F. Shimell; and W. Eastly retained the rinks at TOBT.

          In December, the Highway Committee of the Council decided to bring the matter of another bowling green before the next meeting of the Finance Committee.

          1934 saw TBC win the Mid-Devon League, yet again; beating Paignton Torbay on the King’s Ground, Torquay by 15 shots.

          Messrs. S. F. Bartlett, C. L. Brock & S. Leece played for the County.

          There was a heated discussion over the affiliation to the MDL, in 1935, because of the distances having to travel to the likes of Dartmouth and Brixham. 

          The Surveyor was asked to report as to a bowling green being laid down with Cumberland or Lancashire sea-washed turf adjoining the Promenade at the Eastern end of the Parking ground and any other suitable site, with an estimate of cost.

          1935 was also the year that Messrs. C. L. Brock & F. Willetts won the Devon County Pairs competition, and Messrs. S. F. Bartlett, C. L Brock, F. Willetts played for the County

          By 1936, there were 78 clubs affiliated to DCBA of which 35 had sea-washed turf; as apposed to 1922 when only 5 out of 23 had sea-washed turf. So the Hon. Sec., TOBT Committee, presented two petitions, one from TBC and the other from visiting competitors, asking for the Den Bowling Green to be re-laid with sea-washed turf.

          A further letter from Hon. Sec., TOBT Committee stated that a licence had been received from the English Bowling Association (EBA) for the tournament to be played on both the Teignmouth and Shaldon Bowling Green’s on condition that the bowling green’s banks and ditches are made to conform to IBB requirements before 1st May 1936.

          And, finally on the letters front, this year, the Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to TUDC, with reference to the question of the provision of an additional bowling green in town.  TUDC unanimously passed a resolution that the laying down of an additional bowling green in Teignmouth was fully warranted and that the town would be best served by such a green being laid down on or near Bitton Park.

          It was this year that the ten lady members of the Club, along with other ladies of the town, informed TBC that they wished to form a Ladies Bowls Section of TBC, and for it be affiliated to the Devon County Ladies Bowling Association.

          A TBC Committee supported the formation of a ladies Club being affiliated to them, perhaps in 1937.

          This year, for the fifth time, TBC won the Mid-Devon League, beating Brixham in the final, at Newton Abbot, by 10 points and Messrs. F. Bladon; C.L. Brock; S. Sutton, F. Shimell played for the County.

          During 1937 there was talk, in TUDC, of a sum of £850 for the provision of a bowling green in the SW corner of Bitton Park, based on a report of 11th October 1934 from Messrs. Maxwell M. Hart Ltd. Note the date on that report!!!

          Teignmouth Ladies Bowling Club (TLBC) played their first match on Tuesday 17th May 1938, against Torquay Ladies at Shaldon, they lost by 28 pts. The ladies were playing over at Shaldon because TUDC had refused them permission to play on the Den

          TLBC were represented by; Mesdames Hammond, Coombes, Johnson and Stephens; and Mesdames Morgan, Butt, Lane and Golden.

          Messrs. F. Shimell and F. W. Bladon won the Triples in TOBT; TBC lost heavily to Ellacombe in the MDL Final; Mr E. Shimell played for the County; and Mr C. L. Brock won both the Secretaries’ competitions of the MDL and Devon County.

          After lying fallow for a year, to settle in, Thursday 8th June 1939 saw the opening of the new bowling green at Bitton Park.  This bowling green, which cost just over £800, was laid with Lancashire sea-washed turf; the very same turf that TBC had been asking for for the past twenty-five years or more - without success.

          Mrs R. Stephens played for Devon ladies, this year, against Surrey at Reading and against Kent Tourists at Plymouth; whilst Mr C. L Brock played for Devon men.

          TBC achieved success, for the sixth time, in the Mid-Devon League, when beating the holders Ellacombe, and by the time of the AGM the Club was down to only 91 members.    

          The Second World War never quite failed to diminish the enthusiasm for a game of bowls.  Local games were played and even the TOBT was played in 1940.  There were sufficient men past the age of Conscription or with Reserved Occupations to keep the Club ticking over.  But, understandably, very little bowling news made it to the local papers.

          Like everything else in life the cost of a game of bowls inevitably rose. So much so that, long before the 1945 season actually got under way, there were some heated arguments in the Council chambers. Before the war it cost 3d per hour to play bowls; now the Council wanted to raise it to 6d per hour.

          There were no Club competitions played this year but the Visitors’ tournament went ahead in August, as did two matches against the visitors.

          Besides the price hike, the biggest surprise this year was TUDC’s decision, in September, to relay the Bowling Green with sea-washed Cumberland turf and use the removed turf on the Putting Green.

          Because of the relaying of the Den Bowling Green with sea-washed Cumberland turf, at a cost of about £1,000, it did not open for the season until Saturday 15th June.  The chairman of TUDC, Mr E. W. Parsons performed the honours of bowling the first wood, before playing for the councillors and officials in a losing match against the Club.

          This was followed the next day by the opening of TOBT, which ran until the 21st of June.

          Now whether all this activity was too much for the newly laid green to take, as it was closed for two days, by order of the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Council, to rest the green, and they had Council approval to close it in future if necessary.

          TLBC were still being denied permission to use the Den green and had to use the Bitton Park green.

          But, come the New Year and the ladies were off the mark rather quick, with a letter from them being read in the Council on Thursday 9th Jan 1947. In this the ladies asked permission to use the Den green on the 13th & 27th May; 24th June; 12th August and 9th September, to play matches. The Council said yes to the use of three rinks on each of those dates.

          Even back then there was infighting within the Bowls Club. On the 15th May 1947 Mr J. Hammond, President of TBC, applied to the Council for the Den Bowling Green to be used on Sundays. The Council agreed to both the Den and Bitton Park greens being opened alternately on Sundays, but they were to be closed one day a week for every Sunday they open.

          Well, the proverbial hit the fan, a bit belatedly. On the 8th September a letter arrived at the Council from the Hon. Sec. Of TBC, stating that the Club wished to inform the Council that it’s President (Mr J. Hammond) had made the earlier application solely on his own behalf and that the Club Committee were unanimous in affirming that they disassociated themselves with any such request.

          On the bowling side Messrs. J. Armstrong, S. Sutton, L. Cross and C. L. Brock succeeded in winning the MDL rinks competition.

          On the 24th January 1948, after the Surveyor reported to TUDC about the many complaints made to him concerning the lack of lavatory accommodation for the ladies in the Pavilion Clubhouse, he was instructed to remove the urinal and washbasin, thus leaving a WC for the exclusive use of the ladies and that the washbasin be resited in the main changing room for communal use.  Furthermore he was to look at the possibility of providing access to the WC other than through the main dressing room.

          At the AGM the perennial argument arose about only playing 21 ends in the MDL, instead of the current 27 ends which many other clubs favoured. As did the complaint that nothing had been done to the green since the season ended; along with complaints about the high charges for a game of bowls.

          A delegation, consisting of Messrs. C. Burgoyne, L. Cross and G. Young, attended a Council meeting on Friday 18th February 1949 to express the views of the Club in regard to the existing sanitary arrangements at the Den Bowling Green Pavilion and in general regards as to the facilities offered there. They asked if it was possible for the Council to provide an extension to the Pavilion for the use of the ladies as a separate changing room, and it could also be used for men’s visiting teams on the occasions that the ladies were not using it.  The Club even went so far as to make an offer towards any costs.

          TUDC got on their high horses and informed the Club that when the income from bowling bears a reasonable relationship to the expenditure that has to be incurred, the Council will be only too pleased to make improvements in the facilities.

          What the Council so conveniently forgot to take into account was the unseen amount of money brought into the town’s coffers by all the visitors who came to Teignmouth precisely because of the bowling facilities.  This past 1949 season brought the likes of Page Park BC, from Bristol; Cross Keys BC, from Newport; and Abertridwr BC, from Caerphilly, who presented the Club with a  shield as a fond memento of their visit.

          Mrs Johnson was elected as junior vice-president of the DCLBA; Messrs. C. L. Brock, L. Cross and C. F. Lane received County recognition and TBC also won the Welham Cup.

          1950 was when the local bowling clubs declared war on TUDC over the high charges for the coming season and the terrible condition of the Den green.

          The town surveyor, Mr W. M. Scott had informed TBC that it was certain that the green would not be opened on the first Saturday in May, as normal, and that it was even problematical as to whether it would be available at the end of May.  This was based on a report by a specialist who had practically condemned the whole of the turfs laid last winter. In his opinion it would be necessary to lay down 2,000 new ones.

          As a consequence of all the above, when Bitton Park and Shaldon bowling greens were opened, on Saturday 6th May, several bowlers, with many members of TBC present, refrained from using the green, as a protest against the high prices being charged by the Council.

          Early in August 1950 the Council received an open letter signed by 120 visitors to Teignmouth, thanking them for spoiling their holidays, and reminding them that what they and their families spent on the green is only a fraction of what they spent in Teignmouth.  In fact several families had already cancelled their holidays in Teignmouth in favour of Dawlish.

          On Thursday 24th August the surveyor had obtained an estimate, from Messrs. Maxwell Hart, for the stripping of the Den green, the laying of 4” of sandy soil and returfing with sea-washed turf for the sum of £1,195; in addition to which the expenditure of about £75 for increasing the height of the concrete ditch, banks and flanges around the green.

          TUDC recommended accepting this quotation; but at a Council meeting of Tuesday 5th September this was voted against, only to be overturned at a meeting on Thursday 21st September plus a supplementary estimate of £1,270.

          After all that, Messrs. Maxwell Hart informed TUDC that he was unable to ensure the relaying of the green until spring 1951, at the earliest.

          The seasons 1951 to 1953 were not reported on much, except for Messrs. Maxwell M Hart agreeing to defer the work on DBG still further, and reserving the right to re-examine their figures to incorporate any price changes. 

          The 1954 season opened on the 2nd May with the head of the Council not only bowling the first bowl, but raising the new Club flag, with its yellow lettering on a green background, up the flagpole provided by the Club, as well.

          On the 12th May the first County match for 20 years took place on the Den green, when Mr J. Armstrong was a member of the Devon team who beat Yorkshire by 68 shots. Then on June 20th to 23rd the Devon County Singles were held here as well; followed by the MDL Triples on the 2nd and 14th July.

          Mr C. L. Brock won the MDL Singles 21-18, against Mr N. Newbury of Newton Abbot.

          In 1955 TBC Played 43 matches, winning 31, drawing 1 and losing 11.

          Mr A. Skinner-Hill won the MDL Singles; Messrs. J. Armstrong, A. Barrell, A. Clark and C. L. Brock won TOBT Rinks; and Messrs. J. Saunders and L. Cross won TOBT Pairs.

          In 1956 Messrs. P. Sparrow, H. Foster and J. Saunders won TOBT Triples; and Messrs. S. More, J. Saunders and C. L. Brock won the Paignton Tournament Triples.

          Sadly Mrs Golden, a stalwart of the local bowling scene died this year.

          1957 was the year of the “nearlys”, in that TBC got to the semi-finals of both the County Trophy and MDL only to lose. The only success was Mr A. Skinner-Hill winning the TOBT Singles and Mr L. Saunders being awarded his County Badge.

          For some reason by the end of the 1958 season TBC had dropped from a membership of 93, the previous year, down to 53.

          Messrs. S. Moore, J. Saunders and C. L. Brock won the TOBT Triples. But, TBC lost to Brixham in the MDL Finals held at Torquay.

          23rd Oct Complaint about inadequate facilities in the DP. The Surveyor’s report stated that the estimated cost of providing facilities would be around £4,500.

          All the talk in 1959 concerned the new Bowls Pavilion that TUDC were going to provide the Club in 1960, their Golden Anniversary year.

          On the 4th January 1959, Ministry of Housing allowed TUDC to obtain a loan for the building of a new Bowls Pavilion and Tea Lounge. By the 21st August the Council had received ten tenders. In the end, on the 26th August a tender from Mr D. Victor was accepted. TUDC borrowed £7,753 for constructing Bowls Pavilion (BP) and Tea Lounge (TL).

          On the 2nd February 1960 TUDC proposed that TBC pay £50 for exclusive use of BP from season’s end to the beginning of the following season; And, pay all service charges and 10/- (50p) for each occasion that the TL was used. 

          24th March 1960 TBC responded that the proposed amounts were beyond the financial resources of the Club; and offered 25/- (£1.25p) for the use of the Tea Lounge for only one day a week throughout the winter.

          3rd May 1960 TUDC purchased 12 tables, at £5 each, and 50 stacking chairs, at £1.12/- each (£1.60p) for DBP and Tea Lounge.

          The 1961 bowling season opened with everyone looking forward to a full program of matches on a comparatively good green. Amongst the visiting tourists were Southend-on-Sea, Llanelly, Gloucester, Midland Bank, Finchly & District and Kent Constabulary.

          The Den green was well used with the usual friendly matches, the customary Target Bowls Competition in aid of Teignmouth Carnival funds and matches against TLBC were resumed after a long respite; plus, on the 24th June Devon played Wiltshire and later on the final of the County Trophy.      

          TBC won more matches than they lost, but the hardest loss to take was the 10pt one against Dawlish, in the semi-final of the MDL.

          1962 saw a definite turn for the good. The season opened on the 29th April with the possibility of some good matches against the likes of Bognor Regis, Brighton & Hove, Keynsham, East Kent, London Transport, Oxford University Press and Berkshire BA.

          By the season’s end there was many a smiling face to be seen in the Clubhouse.  Mr K. Gill had won the MDL Singles; Mr J. Saunders had played in the Middleton Cup for Devon; Messrs. C. Vale, J. Heales & J. Peterson had been put forward for County recognition and TBC had won the MDL by 22 points (for the 3rd time in 4 years) against Dartmouth at Abbey Green, Torquay.

          By now, TBC was a hotbed of good bowls and bowlers and 1963 was no different. The season opened on the 27th April with the shock news that the gentlemen were to help with the washing up, and that 3/- (15p) was to be paid to car owners who drove others to away matches such as Tiverton, Crediton and Exmouth, but no owner was to be paid before the end of the season.

          Mr J. Coombes won the Club Championship for the third year running; Messrs. C. Down, W. Jarman, P. Rabbage and K. Gill won the MDL Fours Championship; TBC won the MDL again, against Brixham by 25pts and Mrs Vale won the “Elizabeth Shaw Cup” in the County Secretaries and Treasurers Section.

          1964 saw TBC dropping the fixtures against three clubs Belmont, Crediton, and Heavitree.

          In his first year in open competition, Mr C. Carr won the MDL Singles; Mr J. Saunders continued to play for Devon in the Middleton Cup, and TBC managed to win not only the MDL 2nd Division Championship, thus gaining promotion to Division 1, but the Foxlands Cup as well. The two rinks were, Messrs. W. James, E. Tothill, H. Foster, J. Saunders and C. Down, W. Jarman, K. Gill, J. Coombes.

          The bowling green was used on Sundays for a trial period during 1965 and TUDC agreed that TBC could use the BP on five evenings a week throughout the year for £52 per annum.

          Bowls wise, 1965 saw the first Mixed Pairs Competition; Mr M. Ferris won TOBT Singles and Messrs. C. Vale & J. Coombes won TOBT Pairs Competition. Messrs. J. Armstrong & A. Skinner-Hill won the Western Morning News Trophy at the Maderia Club, Exmouth, TBC won the MDL Division One and Mrs Cross won every Ladies club competition except the pairs, in which she came second with Mrs Jennings.

          On Friday 29th October, at the 1965 AGM, Mr C. L. Brock was duly elected as TBC’s first Life Member, as an appreciation for his long service to the Club.

          At a Council meeting on Wednesday 16th February 1966, TUDC agreed that Sunday bowling would now be allowed on its bowling greens. This now made it easier to fit in all the matches that TBC had to play; such as the tourists and visitors Yorkshire, Lewsey Vale, Finchly District, Leamington Spa, Kent County, Hawker Sidley, Estores Park Bridgwater.

          Mrs Cross and Mrs Vale won the County Pairs. Messrs. C. Vale and J. Coombes won TOBT Pairs, whilst Mr C. Coombes won the MDL Singles.

          There was a proposed extension to the Tea Lounge, in which the Council would remove existing doors with fanlights over, and refix them between brick piers before making good the floor.

          On Saturday 4th February 1967 a deputation from the Club went to TUDC in a vain attempt to get some parking allocated to the Club on the Seafront. Councillor Cole pointed out that the Council could not give permission to park cars on the Upper Den carriageway as it was illegal. If the Council allocated the club spaces on the Point car park the charge would be 2/6 (12.5p) for the day for each space.

          The tourist teams and visiting clubs still continued to arrive at the Den. This year Brighton & Hove, South Hampstead, Royal Aircraft Establishment, Sutton & District, Victoria Club WSM, Oxford County, Chelmsford, Bradnich and Barnstaple.

          Mr J. Coombes (snr) and Lt. Col. C. Journeax were both made Life Members for outstanding service to the Club.

          TBC won Division 1 of MDL and Messrs. S. Helmore, S. Dunn and A. Skinner-Hill won TOBT Triples.

          The Den bowling green was opened on April 20th 1968, by Councillor Bladon at 2.30pm and this was followed by a Bowls Drive.

          TBC Committee ruled that any matches to be played on a Sunday were to be considered under exceptional circumstances.

          Mr W. Short provided a “Club Champions” board and Mr H. B. Day provided a “Men’s Pairs Competition” board.

          The Bowls Club was now using coaches, for all away matches, instead of private cars, and charging 3/6 (17.5p) per head.

          TBC won Division 1 of MDL; Messrs H. Rodwell, S. Dunn and A. Skinner-Hill lost in the semi-finals of the EBA Triples at Mortlake.

          The 1969 season got underway on Friday April 25th at 6pm with the official opening of the Bowls green and a Bowls Drive the following afternoon.

          An 8 rink away match against Imperial Tobacco Company, Bristol, took place on Monday 25th August.

          Messrs. G. Jones, H. Heales, W. Jarman, and A. Skinner-Hill won the City of Exeter Trophy; Messrs. H. Rodwell and A. Skinner-Hill won the County Pairs Trophy; Messrs. G. Jones, W. Jarman, H. Heales and J. Webber won the MDL Rinks and Mrs Vale, Mrs Hurley and Mrs Springham won the County Triples.

          Despite the fact that TBC played 83, 75 and 72 matches respectively during the 1970 to 1972 seasons, nothing of real note appeared in the local press, except for Mrs M. Cross being the Ladies Club Champion for the 6th year running in 1972.

           Even before the 1973 season opened TUDC had written proposing to extend the front portion of the Bowls Pavilion, at a cost of £300, if the two bowls clubs were prepared to contribute £100 towards the cost.  The clubs replied that they were not prepared to pay so much for so little advantage.

          The four semi-finalists of the MDL Singles championship were all members of TBC; Messrs. J. Coombes, W. Jarman, W. Lenham and H. Rodwell; with Mr W. Lenham becoming the eventual winner. But, despite the above show of prowess, by the season’s end TBC was relegated to Division 2 of the MDL.

          It was TLBC who triumphed this year, when Mrs M. Cross won the Ladies County Championship and TOBT Pairs with Mrs M. Turner.

          1974 saw the first tentative follow up to the proposal as to TBC renting the Den Bowling Green, on the assumption that the Council would be responsible for its maintenance.  This necessitated a joint meeting to be held of TBC, TLBC and the Bowls Social Club, to discuss the formation of a Management Committee to look after all their individual needs.

          And finally this year, a motion was passed at the AGM that the selection committee shall not normally select any member to play in both MDL and County Trophy matches.

          The 1975 season kicked off with the usual match between the Presidents and Captain’s teams, on Saturday April 26th.

          At last, TBC won the MDL Division 2 and won promotion to Division 1. Mr W. Lenham was appointed Section 5 Coach and Mrs M. Cross was selected to play for England at Edinburgh and won the Ladies County Championship again.

          At the AGM a motion was passed and incorporated into the Club rules, that the terms of office of President and Chairman shall not exceed a period of three years.

          Because of the severe drought in 1976 the Den Bowling Green was closed on the evening of August 11th, some six weeks prematurely. So, the entire uncompleted Club competitions were finished off at the beginning of the 1971 season. Likewise, because of the drought, in the MDL there were over 70 matches outstanding, so there would be no promotion or demotion and the league positions would remain as they were at the end of 1975.

          Besides the drought, the main talking point of 1976 was the unification of the three branches of the Club to enable them to accept the offer made by Teignbridge Urban District Council to lease the Den Bowling Green, Bowling Pavilion and Tea Pavilion.

          On the 15th October a delegation of the combined clubs met with a group of Teignbridge Councillors, and after a lengthy discussion it was finally agreed that a payment of £375 per annum (to included the £42 rental of the Tea Pavilion) would be very acceptable by both parties (subject to approval of their main bodies) for the licence of the Den Bowling Green and Bowling Pavilion.

          This necessitated a Joint General Meeting of the TBC and TLBC (13 Ladies, 40 Gentlemen) to be held in the Den Pavilion, on the 11th November, to elect an ad hoc Management Committee of members from all three clubs.

          At a Management Committee held on the 8th February 1977 and later ratified at a Special Joint General Meeting held on the 24th February, the new Teignmouth (The Den) Bowling Club Constitution and Rules were finalised in time for the forthcoming season. Full Membership was £6 and Associated Membership £1.

          Apart from going into freefall in the MDL, dropping from Division I down to Division III, there’s nothing of note to report twixt 1978 to 1980. Unless you want to know that TBC lost more matches than it won in 1979 and 1980.

                    Mind you, the next three years were not much better. You could call these years the yo-yo years, as in 1981 TBC won promotion to Division II of the MDL; dropped down again at the end of 1982; only to gain promotion back up to Division II by the end of 1983.

          The only consistency in the Club during this period (no, no, in fact, since it was formed), has been the bemoaning about team selection, not using the non-availability book, green duties, and Club competitions not being played by the due date.

          For all those imbibers in the Club 1984 was a Red Letter year, as it was then that a “Bar in the lounge” was successfully voted for at the AGM. This coincided with this being a drought year. So much so that the Bowling Green was closed from the 29th June until the 1st of August; and even then it was only opened for limited bowling until the 2nd September. Consequently all Club competitions, except for singles Championship, were cancelled. Despite this the Club were runners up in Division II of the MDL, thus gaining promotion to the First Division.

          1985 saw the first election of a Wine Committee to run the bar, and the contentious continuation of a big pow-wow about the amalgamation of the Ladies and Gents sections into one, with a mixed committee and one AGM.

          On the bowls front the Ladies reached the finals of the County Inter Club Competition, whilst the Men were equal top of the MDL II Division (with Brixham Furzeham) thus gaining promotion to Division I. This was also the year that Cyril Carr retired as the Greenkeeper.

          1986 was the year when an intruder concealed himself in the Clubhouse, after an AGM, and broke into the food cupboard before making his escape through the Ladies toilet window. He didn’t even leave behind a completed Membership Application form.

          Mrs. M. Hackett was the runner up in the Ladies County Champion of Champions competition and the Men won the MDL Division I.  There was a proposal for a second team in the MDL.

          Those red stackable chairs you are sitting upon, whilst reading this, were purchased by the Club in 1987 (through Devon County Council for VAT reasons) at £5.51 each and 60 of them were bought.

          As a sort of after thought on the above, the cushions from the old chairs had mysteriously found their way to the Indoor Bowling Club and on discovery had stacked themselves up awaiting collection still abiding by the code of Omerta.

          The Club had a membership of 47 Gents, 23 Ladies and 100 Associated Members.

          Alan Mann won the County Secretaries and Treasurers Competition.

          The next two years of the Club history are lost in the mist of time or should that be mislaid.  Consequently all I know is that during this period the Men gained promotion up in to the MDL Premier League and Mr E. Perryman made a case for the Antique Silver Spoons, now in the Ladies Changing Room.

          The 1990’s turned out to be the most expensive decade for the Club so far.

          1990 itself started off with the installation of the Torro Automatic Sprinkler System for the bowling green, at a cost of £4,925.85. I hope that all the visiting bowlers appreciated this expenditure.

          Talking of which; that season the Club played 39 Tourists, 20 Local Friendlies, 16 MDL and 6 County Trophy Matches.

          1992 brought an unwelcomed surprise, courtesy of the Government, in the shape of a full Non-Domestic Rate charge backdated to the 1991 Season.

          Also this year there was the £2,853.49 cost of the extension to the Clubhouse kitchen, by removing the existing wall and replacing it with a new wall two or three feet further out into the hallway.

          1993 arrived along with yet another one of Teignbridge District Councils dippy ideas of making all local bowling clubs responsible for the maintenance of their own greens. So we joined a consortium of the other six clubs under the jurisdiction of Teignbridge in the hope of resolving this problem.

          During this year the Men won the MDL Division III.

          1994 saw the extension to the Men’s Changing Room, which cost £3,585.25.  This consisted of knocking down the existing exterior wall and rebuilding it some 4’6” further out; thus removing the covered alcove where a bench was.

          On the bowling front, Messrs. R Stevens, P Betts, and R Ramsenius won the MDL Triples Competition. Whilst Messrs; R Stevens; B Ledger; G Shute; and R Howes were winners of the Bitton Park Jubilee Cup.

          1995 was when both Section Secretaries became members of the Management Committee and a Catering Committee was formed to run all the catering, except for the Bar.

By 1996 there were 67 Gents and 29 Ladies making up the playing Membership of the Club.

          1997 saw the extension of the Bar by our current President, who seems to be still testing it.

          We now have another dearth of information concerning the Club until 2003, apart for the winning of the MDL Division III in 2000.

          It was 2003 when the formation of the Tony Ledger Triples League, as a friendly Club competition, honestly, by Fred Rooke took place. This was in tribute of a late member Anthony John Ledger (1946-2001).

          The major unanimous decision of the 2003 AGM was to change the Club’s name to Den Bowling Club.

          This was also the year when the Equipment Store was built by President Mike and his merry band of helpers.

          2004 saw Management revamping the Club Constitution; part of which was that Ladies and Gentlemen were to be represented proportionately, with the numbers in each section, in Mixed Matches. Also, because of the irregularity of Associated Members voting, the resolution concerning Club Badges and Flag was reviewed and voted on; the outcome being that the Flag and Badges used before the present one would be re-adopted.

          Building, building and even more building seemed to occupy the Club for the next two years; starting with the extension of the Clubhouse out towards the Bowling Green in 2005.

          This meant dismantling the frontage, moving it some three feet forwards, and building new piers ready for the new windows and door.  All in all the building work cost the Club some £8,300.

          The purchase of a new water pump and sprinkler added nearly £1,500 towards the general repairs and renewals outlay of £2,762.57.

          Eventually, the Teignbridge District Council got around to replacing the windows in the Ladies and Gents changing rooms.

          On the bowling front the Ladies entered the Print Plus League, whilst the Gentlemen entered another team in the Over 55 League.

          The following year, 2006, nearly £6,000 was spent on two electronically operated awnings and vertical blinds for the interior of the Club.

           The Ladies won the Print Plus League this year and it was decided to have no limit on the numbers of Associated Members.

          2007 saw the Ladies gain promotion in the Print Plus League by coming second.

          2008 brought us the discussion of the grandiose scheme of Teignbridge Council to demolish and rebuild the Carlton Theatre and the Bowls Club.

          There was a long awaited upgrading of the kitchen in 2009, along with the purchase of a new Fridge/Freezer.

          The Council have agreed to pay for the Centenary Flag; Mike Evans was elected President for 2010 and also made a Life Member.

          Opening Day for 2010 (Centenary Year) is going to be Saturday 17th April.

          Meanwhile, I hope that the Club, and ALL its members, continue to extend a welcoming hand to all those who are attracted to the camaraderie and companionship of a game of bowls.