A Brief History of Stratton Churchway Bowls Club
The Bowls Club came into existence in 1929. Permission was granted by the Vicar of St. Margaret's Church to lay a bowling green on the Vicarage Field, which was adjacent to the Reading Room. The green must have been laid during the early part of summer because a bowls match took place between The Reading Room Bowls Club and The Parochial Church Council on July 29th, 1929. A special meeting was held on November 18th,1929. The Reading Room Tennis Club requested that the Bowling Green be fenced off and a gate erected.The Reading Room Bowls Club became Stratton Churchway Bowls Club in April, 1931. A meeting held at this time mentions the green opening on May 1st and a charge of 3d to be made for a game of 21 ends.In 1934 the Bowling Green was re-laid with Downs turf at a cost of £14 6s. A letter was received from the groundsman at the County Ground stating that the turf was of good quality and the re-laying of it was very satisfactory.A Ladies Section was started in 1934, the annual fee being 2 shillings and sixpence.
In 1936, SCBC entered the Men's Swindon and District 3 Rink League and in 1939 they entered the Swindon and District 4 Rink League.SCBC applied to enter The Wiltshire County 4 Rink League in 1946 and continued to play in the Swindon and District Leagues.
In 1950, SCBC purchased the land on which they were situated from the Church Commissioners, the cost was £250.The members built a new clubhouse during the winter of 1962 replacing the original clubhouse which had been erected in 1931.
The green was extended to 6 rinks in 1969 but they were not played on until 1971. The new clubhouse was extended in 1972.
In 1975, Stratton St. Margaret Parish Council purchased the tennis courts to build the present Community Centre, as a result SCBC benefited by the erection of a chainlink fence and the water laid into the clubhouse. Due to falling membership, the men had to withdraw from the Wilts League in 1976 but continued to play in the Swindon and District Leagues.
In 1978, SCBC was in danger of closing, due to the lack of members and the poor state of the green. Fortunately, a new influx of members arrived to put the club back on its feet, even playing all games away for a couple of years whilst repairing the green. They did so well that by 1983 they were able to purchase, and erect in less than six months, a large sectional building obtained from the M.O.D. which with various additions and modifications [kitchen, toilets, and veranda etc.] is still the main part of the fine Clubhouse of today.
SCBC has, from this time, gone from strength to strength with Men and Ladies having the choice of many leagues and other matches in which to play and achieve success in, whilst also, if they so wish, being able to play bowls solely for the pure enjoyment of the game. Improvements of facilities continued with the purchase of a portacabin to use as changing rooms thus creating more space in the Clubhouse and allowing a skittle alley at the end where the changing rooms had been. Also many charity events were included in the seasons calendar.
During the same period the Club maintained teams in all Men’s and Ladies S&D Evening and Afternoon leagues and competitions. In 1981 the Club were also able to join the Men’s County 3 Rink league and have achieved success in this league over the years.
It was in Sept. 1987 that SCBC held the first ever Floodlight Gala in the area. This has continued with games played throughout the whole of the first week in September every year. September 2012 saw the 25th Anniversary of this event.
The first part of the 21st century saw the club continuing to thrive in both the Ladies and Men's sections both on and off the green. The increasing costs of the green, Clubhouse maintenance, licences and other necessities have required more and more need for fund raising activities. Thank goodness for raffles and the bar!
Once again, as the circle goes around, in 2010/2011 just as membership and availability numbers appeared to be dwindling, another influx of new members gives us great optimism for continued success well into the future.
In 2013, the brick built changing rooms and storage facility were added and the kitchen was re-furbished with the help of several grants from the National Lottery, Stratton Parish Council and the Swindon Sports Forum. The walkway from the gate to the far end of the clubhouse was changed from concrete slabs to block paving.