Olney Bowling Club  

    In the Beginning

    The Club came into being thanks to a small group of people from Olney who were looking into the possibilities of starting a Bowling Club in the Town.   For anyone who has more than a passing interest in local history, why not have a look at the detailed minutes of that initial meeting which have been 'brought back to life' and available for widespread circulation thanks to the wonders of Modern technology.   Click Here to be transported back to the early 20th Century.


    Meanwhile, here is a more up to date version of our history.

    With guidance from some of the commitee members  of the Newport Pagnell Bowls Club steps were taken to start the OLNEY BOWLING CLUB and in 1906 the club was founded with the first elected officers being 

    Mr.S.E.Hipwell - President (a position he then held for the next 32 years)

    Mr.J.Pebody - Captain 

     and

    Mr.J.C.Nicholls - Honorary Secretary    

    The first match of the new Olney Bowling Club was held on the 27th June 1906 on a new green of 40 x 20 yards in size  that had been  prepared on part of the Olney Cricket Pitch.   In 1907 this was  increased in size to 40 x 30 yards to accommodate 5 rinks  with a decision being made to erect a small pavilion with the total area being enclosed . 


    Moving on

    In 1910 the club became a member of the Bucks County Championship which we actually won.   This was not quite due to the skills of the Olney players but rather 'by default' as the opponents - Aylesbury - failed to send a team to play the final match.  We have only won this title once more in 2004 but successfully reached the final again in 2005 when it was being played on our green.

    Unfortunately due to a terrible mishap that occurred early in the game, the tie was not completed and the situation resulted in both the finalist  teams names being added to the cup winners for that year.  

    From 1910 until WW1,  the club increased in size  both in members and matches played, but as with most clubs, there was very little activity until after the hostilities finished, when the club then set about getting the members and matches back into being.   At a meeting held in 1920 it was decided that the club should .purchase the green from the Olney Recreation Committee and then to erect a larger pavilion.


    Between the wars

    The club  became affiliated to the Bucks County Bowls Association in 1922, with further honours coming to the club in 1923 when one of its members was selected to play in the combined Bucks and Northants team versus the Australian Touring Team.   Club championship games were introduced in 1925 but  they ceased in the early thirties due to members failing to turn up for their matches.

    The club then went  through a period of decline with the membership dropping from a total of 52 to 30 making it very difficult to arrange teams for matches until 1938/39 when there was a great revival in both membership and games played.   Once again the club came to a virtual stand still during WW2 with the green receiving maintenance care to keep it in a playable condition until the war finished.   During that time, this work was mainly carried out by Mr J Kitchener.  

    In 1943 the Olney Parish Council notified the Bowls Club that they would like to become the owners of the ground which the Bowls Club owned to enable them to carry out major modifications and improvements to the Recreation Ground.   Their objective was to build a single spacious centre on the site of the Bowling Green which would cater for all the sports clubs using the Recreation Ground.   Fortunately, due to lack of finances, this project was put into abeyance and did not proceed meaning that the club did not have to find and relocate to a new site.


    Post war

    After the war ended a number of developments were planned to improve facilities at the club, the first of which was enlarging the green to accommodate 6 rinks.   At the same time, a new pavilion was planned to provide the amenities necessary for a thriving club which was beginning to emerge as the country was coming out of the war years.

    The first of these changes enlarging the Green was completed in 1950 and it was in 1951 that the new club flag was hoisted over the new green for the very first time. Due to the shortage of building materials especially bricks  the total change was not actually completed until 1965 with the majority of the building having been undertaken and carried out by the tradesmen members of the club.  

    The club prospered  both financially and with ever increasing membership.   This enabled the club to put teams into many league and County championship matches and to see a number of successes.    Mr. R Tompkins reached the semi finals of the County championship.In 1963 the club was further honoured when one of its members - Mr J S Goss - became the County President a position that has been held by three more of our members - Mr.Lisle Orchard,Mr.Ian Cox, and Mr Peter Bullen.

    The green played well until, in 1966, it was struck by disease which had one member stating ' Well we've got first class accomodation but a green thats not fit to play on'.    Following a significant amount of work and specialist treatment, it took two years before the green was once again in a pristine condition and fit for play.

    In 1969 we became members of The Francis Drake Foundation a position that we still hold today and at the AGM of 1976 it was proposed that an extension be made to the Clubhouse which was duly completed in 1977, the next few years going by without any major mishaps.   


    Recent Times

    It was in 1987 that the next changes took place with further work being done to raise the banks, laying of sleepers and the erection of a perimeter fence.    Another few years went by with the members enjoying the fruits of their work but recognising that to move forward is necessary for the club to prosper, further developments were planned.

    The next alterations took place in1992 when the Clubhouse was once again extended to relocate the Ladies changing room and to create a new kitchen - one of the life blood features of most bowling clubs.  One of the more innovative developments was the erection of floodlighting in 1996 which set the club up for the new millenium.

    The season of 1998 was very sucessful in bowls and social life with the first tour to visit clubs north of the Border in Scotland which turned out to be the first of many tours into the land of the Scots.

    Our next major 'home' success was in 2002 when we won the Bletchley & District League for the first time which we obviously liked as we then went on to win the won for the next 4 out of 5 years, and we were also winners of the Benevolent Triples.

    We celebrated our Centenary Year in 2006 with all our normal matches being played as well as many extra matches against touring clubs who helped us celebrate our historic milestone.   We also played host to the EBA team who visited to help us celebrate our commerative year and although our club is the sixth oldest in the County it was comparatively unknown in the south of the County until the 1950's'
     
    Since then, Olney Bowling Club has grown in importance within Buckinghamshire and thanks to the standard of our green and the quality of our players, we now proudly hold a very worthy position in the County Bowling Association.   Many of our men have played in various County games giving an excellent account of themselves and representing the Club and County with some excellent results.

    We must not forget our ladies who have also helped ensure that Olney Bowling Club is kept to the fore in County competitions.    We have seen our Ladies win various cups and trophies and were delighted to see members having made it to Leamington ( the Worthing of the Lady Bowlers).   Our ladies are also much appreciated for all the work that have and still carry out behind the scenes whether catering, looking after the clubhouse and providing a welcome input to many of the decisions which ensures that the club maintains its reputation as one of the best clubs in the County. 


    The Club Today

    Regular club and inter club competitions take place during the season as well as many other games played against touring clubs and visiting county teams.    Our fully floodlit green enables us to play evening matches and club roll ups, much later than most clubs are able to achieve and we are proud to say that we constantly receive plaudits for the quality of bowls which can be played on our green.      Our club has played host to a number of major games/competitions under the auspices of Buckinghamshire Bowling Association and we regularly have representatives in the major county teams and competitions.

    Our clubhouse and bar, being situated within the town's Recreation area, provides a meeting place for anyone who enjoys the game of Lawn Bowls and enables a good social life to take place whilst during the close season many of our members enjoy the indoor game at one of the local indoor clubs. 

    With regular touring teams visiting Scotland and South Africa and members also giving and enjoying the hospitality of clubs throughout the UK and overseas, we prove the fellowship of Bowls knows no borders.