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Origins of Thaxted Bowling Club

Minutes of Public Meeting held 24th May 1965

A public meeting was held at the Guildhall on Monday 24th May 1965 to discuss the possibilities of forming a Thaxted Bowling Club. After opening the meeting Mr G. Bass called for the election of a Chairman and Mr. H. Craig was unanimously elected from a proportion by Mr. D Kinley seconded by Mt B. Roythorne.

A discussion followed on whether the Bowling should be a club or private. It was generally agreed a Club would be most advantageous.

Sites – Following a discussion on sites it was thought that chances of obtaining a piece of ground on the Recreation Ground on a sixty year lease were nil.

Mr B Roythorne stated that from information he had obtained regarding Grants it was necessary to obtain a sixty year lease on order to get 50% Grant. This Grant would cover the purchase, laying of green, car park, pavilion etc. He felt it was important to obtain a piece of ground large enough to play both ways in order to wear the turf evenly and also a piece large enough to contain a car park.

Continuing with sites Mr. Cooper suggested that Mr. E. L. Wright be approached with a view to obtaining a piece of Walnut Tress Meadow. Mr. H. Lowe stated that the Parish Council had been offered this meadow on a lease, providing planning permission could not be obtained. He stated that Mr. Wright would have no objection to a Bowling Green on this site but the ground could only be obtained on a 21year lease. It was generally agreed that this meadow would not be wide enough for a Bowling Green.

It was suggested that a piece of ground the cricket ground might be a good site but this could only be obtained on a 21-year lease and could not be fenced in. It was also doubtful whether it would be wide enough

Ground at the rear of the Windmill, the Vicarage Mead Mr. Brittins meadow and land in Water Lane belonging ……………………………………………..that a site on Cutlers Green was too far out from Thaxted to be suitable.

Mr. E Leeder proposed a committee be formed to investigate the possibilities of forming a Bowling Club. This was seconded by Mr. R Barnard and agreed by the meeting.

Mr Crossley proposed a resolution that a committee of 18 members be elected and a third of this Committee should retire annually in rotation. Lots should be drawn for retiring in the first year but returning members could seek re-election. This resolution was seconded by Mr J Drane and carried by the meeting.

Mr Crossley proposed a second resolution that the Committee be asked to find a suitable site for a Bowling Green and necessary amenities and to enquire as to ways and means of financing these. To draw up draught rules for the club and to submit their suggestions to another General Meeting as soon as possible, but to have power to act should this be in the best interest of the Club. This resolution was seconded by Mr A Moore and carried by the meeting.

The Chairman proposed a vote of thanks to Mr Crossley for these excellent resolutions which he felt Mr Crossley had given a great deal of thought to.

Election – The following 18 members were duly elected to serve on the Committee.

Committee –

  1. Mr B. Roythorne                     2       Mr R Barnard
  1. Mr F Cooper                            4       Mr Crossley
  1. Mr E Leeder                             6       Mr H Craig
  1. Mr G F Bass                             8       Mr H Lowe
  1. Mr P Francis                            10    Mr H Mizen
  1. Mr D Kinnley                           12    Mr G Woolley
  1. Mr T Brazier                             14    Mr Little
  1. Mr J Drane                               16    Mr G Hitching
  1. Mr J Gilder                               18    Mr H Coe

After some discussion Mr R Barnard stated that he was prepared to let have a piece of land on a provisional 60 year lease opposite the Tennis Courts. Mr T Brazier proposed that Mr Barnards kind offer be accepted and this proposition was seconded by Mr F Cooper and unanimously agreed be the meeting.

Mr H Lowe thanked Mr Barnard for his kind offer and these thanks were agreed by every person present at the meeting

There being no further business the Chairman declared the meeting closed with thanks from Mr. E Leeder to Mr H Craig for taking the Chair.


                                                                     Signed       H Craig           27th May 1966

Some Key Dates:

Original formation of the club and committee – 24th May 1965

Original Club House build completed - 24th December 1968 (Christmas Eve). Built by Joe Drane & Sid Thake & George Hitching

Official Opening - 2.30pm June 7th 1969,  R. Barnard 1st bowl on the Green – Opened by Mr C Jaggs ECBA President.

Extension to Club House – 1974


An Insight to the Trials, Tribulations and Jubilations from an Original Founder.

The following is a resume of the building of the club between 1965 and 1974 thought to have been told by Joe Drane.

(There appears to be some inaccuracies with the initial dates of the clubs origins which are different from the initial clubs minutes and other documentation, but makes for interesting reading on the formation and building of the club with an insight to those involved).


The last Thaxted Flower Show was held on Sat July 9th 1966?

The old flower show committee called a public meeting at the Guildhall on Friday 26th Aug 1966?. Mr H Craig in the chair with the idea of forming a Thaxted bowls club.

There were 27 present: R Barnard, H Craig, B Roythorne, G Bass, S Little. H Crossley, J Drane, H Coe, G Hitchen, H Low, E Leeder, H Mizen, P Frances, G Woodley, D Kenley, L Wright, D Mortlock, F Bassett, V. Britten, Frank Caton, E Chambers, C Imgram, P C Cooper, G Clark, D Dobson, E Freeman, A Gilder

After some discussion it was decided a bowls club should be formed, then came the election of officers at this point Mr Craig vacated the chair and Mr A Gilder who did not want an office then took over the chair and the election followed.

President: R Barnard                      Committee

Chairman: H Craig                        H Mizen, J Drane, G Woodley,E. Leeder, H. Low

Sec.          G Bass                            D. Kenley, P Francis, H. Coe, H. Cross

Tres.         B Roythorne

Vice Chairman S Little

It was decided that subs should be £2-0-0

On Tue Aug 30th 1966 ? 12 of us met on Town Street the reason for only 12 was that H Coe had resigned, and Mr Crossley was a ill man and he was waiting to go into Papsworth, So off we went with tapes etc. to first call at Recreation Ground, Second call Bardfield Green, Third call Walnut tree Meadow.

We all agreed that none of them were suitable, what next we said over a drink in the Star.

Then out of the blue Mr Barnard said if suitable we could have a peace of Worthings Meadow, at £26.00 a year on 60 year lease and we decided yes straight away and arranged to meet down at the meadow the next night.

We then decided not to meet again until G Bass had met L Cave the Essex County Grounds man, we had all got this problem about the mangy cut, Mr Craig kept assuring us that it would turn out right.

Then on Oct 21st, 1966, was that next meeting we had been waiting for, G Bass told us that he and L Cave had been into everything not a stone was left unturned.

They had been into grants, loans and seen a contractor about laying the green.

L Cave had agreed if wished that he would supervise the laying of the Green. Then in dead silence as the Secretary G Bass read out that a firm from Ipswich would lay the green, drains, road and surround for the sum of £17,000.

Mr Craig said now that G Bass and L cave had done all the spade work it was up to us to all pull together, then Mr Bass said he had some better news, he had got £500 loan from Essex Playing Field Association. £3000 grant and we had 12 payed up members of £2 from 1965

R Barnard, H Craig, G Bass, B Roythorne, S Little, G Woodley, H Mizen, J Drane, H Low, P Francis, D Kenley, E Leeder

Mr Craig said he was writing a letter on behalf of us all to his and Mr Barnards friends to ask them for some free interest loans, and he told the Secretary G Bass that he was to progress with the green, and in the meantime the rest of us had got to make money.

The ladies started by having a stall under the Guildhall on Sat Feb 16th and they made £26, and on May 6th and 7th 1967 they had a stall at Traction Engine Rally at Ford End and it rained both days but our Ladies stayed and they made £13-4-0 in 2 days.

The men ran car parked at 5 Engine Rally’s £15 for 2 days that meant that we made £75 from 5 weekends.

Well, the day came to start the Green May 15th 1967 and by the end July the green was complete but the road drains and surround were not complete till the end of September.

We had a fair up in Mr Barnard’s Monday April 15th, 1967, Mr G Woodley run a Traction Engine Rally on his farm, made £250, our ladies E Andrews, E Roythorne, G Drane, C Mizen, E Thake were wonderful.

Then on Nov 13th, 1967, we had our final meeting, the rule was that a meeting should always be held a week before the AGM so that we had Treas report, sec report and chairman’s report before us so that we could agree that they could go to the AGM.

Then Friday Nov 20 1967 AGM at Guildhall, the Sec said we now had a total of 22 payed up members. The new members this year were S Thake, A Mizen, J Gilder, R Chapman, G Hitching, W Bush, G Clark, W Young, T Allen, J Reed.

The money was coming in we had free interest loans from:

B Barron                                C H Ker

R Bolton                                H Maynard

L N Bullard                            P Nichson

L Barestock                           C Brian

R C Fuller                              R D Renton

J Haigh                                  M Weller

E Hollingworth                      G Porter

L R Holt                                  J Gemell

Officers were elected on block, added to the committee: S Thake, G Hitchen, A Mizen, W Bush, J Reed, W Young

We were told we could not play on the green till the end of 1968.

Then in June 1968 it was found we had foreign grasses in the green. So on Sunday morning  with knife and bucket we set about digging it out. Our first meeting of 1968 was Feb 10th the main talking point was clubhouse and accounts.

Regards a clubhouse it was decided that R Barnard, H Craig R Roythorne S Little, H Mizen, E Leeder should get prices from 3 builders and should visit Bedford to look at a Portable clubhouse that they did.

Then a meeting 12 May 1968 they reported back to us, the portable clubhouse would cost at least £5,800, and of the 3 builders not one was under £6000.

After a long discussion we were told by the Treas B Roythorne that we could not think of any of them without a by some from the Bank, he said it was very…….. as we were so much in the red.

Then Joe Drane, Sid Thake & G Hitchen told the committee if they would buy the materials they would build the Clubhouse for nothing

Without any hesitation the Chairman H Craig said order everything to be delivered to my farm and I will bring it to you as you want it, I will pay for it all and the club can pay me back when they get some money and anything you want let me know and you shall have it. In the meantime, we played 6 friendly matches away G Bass was our captain.

Three of us A Mizen, J Drane, J Gilder found the Gate and payed for them.

At another committee meeting held at J Woodley house, J Drane was told that they would like to open the green and clubhouse on June 7th 1969, I Said it was now Sept and all the bad weather to come, Joe said he would need light all through winter to work by. Mr Barnard said he would supply a cable and power from his farm, so G Hitching produced a long scaffold pole and a tub of sand we put a lamp on top of the pole so that we could turn it to where we were working.

So on Sept 21 1968 we started building the clubhouse it gave us 8 months to complete.

G Bass the Sec worked down the club all the hours he could, H Craig used to pay his bricklayer to come down at night and help lay blocks.

Joe and Sid set a target to have it under cover by Xmas, then we should know we were on target for June.

Joe & Sid used to be down there till 12 and 1am in the morning to get it done. When Xmas came we had a lot to do and Joe & Sid worked on the roof covered with frost and we completed it at 12.30am Xmas eve and we came down off that roof knowing that we could have a happy Xmas dinner. Our wife’s said they thought they would have to have their own dinners down there.

We started again after Boxing day by the way G Hitching was down there quite a lot, but not as much as Joe & Sid as he had a business to run.

G Hitching gave the front doors and frame and the linen cupboard.

H Craig gave all plastering, plumbing, and the floorboards.

Mr Barnard gave paint, floor tiles, tool shed and all the slabs round the outside.

J Drane gave most of the windows, all the copper pipe under the building

G Hitching gave over 500 hrs

J Drane gave over 1400 hours

S Thake gave over 1300 hours

June the 7th was getting nearer so Sid and Joe made an extra push and it was so that we could have our first committee in the club house on June 2nd to arrange for the opening on Sat June 7th.

The Brewers had got to complete the bar that we had got paid for through the sales at the bar

Sat June 7th 2.30pm 1969 thanks to Joe and Sid it was one big Success.

The clubhouse was opened and the Green, it was opened by Essex County President Mr C Jaggs and the first wood was bowled by our President Mr Barnard.

Our Ladies gave us a lovely meal after.

They started playing on the green on May 1st 1969 H Mizen was captain but could play only 3 Rinks as we were short of members.

Our paid up members had now gone up to 40

May 1968  E Bassett                       Aug 1968 K Bell

                 W Jones                                       D Parlane

June 1968 T Brazier

1969               S Mynott                    W Cooper

                        R Cowell                    H Bell

                        K Cowell                    D Dobson

                        P Coxall                     A Minninick

                        P Leeder                    C Hatball

                        J Saville                     D Morlock

                        P/C Cooper  


In January 1970 Joe Drane and Sid Thake got a letter from Sec. J Bass to say that a meeting was to be at the cuckoo restaurant in town st. on 17th Jan 1970 at 8pm.

The night arrived Joe & Sid walked up the street to be met at the door by D Kinley and inside by Mr Barnard, Mr Craig and all the committee, and we were put in order of the top table to be given a meal and an evening to remember for the rest of our life, something I shall never forget.

Mr Craig spoke of all the work we had put in, and said that every time we walked into the club we could feel very proud of what we had achieved and no thanks was to great.

All those that followed would never know what you 2 have done for Thaxted Bowling Club.

Mr H Craig was a very great friend of mine (Joe) we had worked on enormous committees together, he as chairman or president, he was known by others as best chairman around for miles, he was generous and kind. To give you some idea of his generosity, in March 1972 he said at a committee that he wanted all the free interest loans to be paid back, forget me he said, we will draw out 2 names a month to be paid back, but that would mean a bank loan of £4000 and we should need guarantors to cover it. We did not pay all his money till about 1978.

In 1974 he called me J Drane and the then Sec W Young to see him and he said he was thinking of resigning as chairman in the near future as he was chairman and president of so many things that he would have to give up, but he said one thing he wanted to do before he went was to have the extension and snooker room to be built he said he would pay for the materials as before, he said his one ambition was to leave a club that he and Mr Barnard had hoped for from the start. So Joe Drane, Sid Thake and Bob Grout built the extension, and he and Mr Barnard were overjoyed


Thaxted Bowling Club History