Last update 19/12/2020

WINCHELSEA BOWLS CLUB – Snippets of history

16th April 1948 Sussex Agricultural Express

April Intervenes

April has upset the plans of WBC. With the aid of a bulldozer they have been levelling a site behind the new Hall with a view to turning it into a green, but recent heavy rainfall has called a halt to progress.

“I’m afraid we shan’t be able to get on it this year” the Town Mayor (Mr J C Rogers), who is a keen bowls player, told me on Monday, “This weather has put it all behind. It looks as if a bomb had dropped there at present.”

The club, whose headquarters meanwhile are the home of Mrs. Goldschmidt and the late Lieut.-Col. Goldschmidt, formerly played in the Northiam and District League, and during the first year of the league’s existence reached the final. Membership, however is not what it used to be, and so latterly they have been playing among themselves.

One of the objects of acquiring the new rink is to attract bowls enthusiasts from other places, such as Rye.

The Town Mayor is chairman of the club: Mr. T. Griffin combines the duties of hon. Secretary and treasurer; and on the committee are Messrs. A. Kirkman, E. Tiltman, F. Trill, V. Symonds and C. Standen.

Malcolm Pratt — Winchelsea, A port of stranded pride (1998)

It seems logical to conclude that Winchelsea Bowls Club was the natural successor to the quoits Club… The first indication we have of bowls being played in the town since medieval times is that a club was formed in 1922 using first a rink in the garden of Yew Tree House at the invitation of Robert Nichols and later one at The Mount, home of Col. And Mrs. Goldschmidt. This use continued until the colonel’s death when his widow wished to move to a smaller home. Prior to this move she gave the club which had been so close to her husband’s heart every possible help and consideration. The Sussex Express reported:

‘Mrs. Goldschmidt who is proving such a great friend to Winchelsea Bowls Club — she is allowing them to play matches at her home “The Mount” pending completion of a new rink adjoining the cricket field — recently presented them with a handsome challenge cup. The final of a series of games to decide who should hold it took place on Saturday and resulted in Mr.T.Griffin, hon. secretary of the club, beating the Town Mayor, Mr. J.C. Rogers, 10 —6. They played eleven ends… Work on the new rink is progressing satisfactorily and now reached the seeding stage. The club has received generous support but would welcome further donations.’

Tom Griffin’s and Jo Rogers’ successors still compete for the Goldschmidt Cup. In recent years it has been won five times each by two corporation members and former mayors, Guy Hughes and Ken Chetwood. The rink which was constructed near the cricket field is in a delightfully peaceful spot with extensive views across the Brede Valley, views made even more dramatic recently by the removal of a hedge to allow the rink to be enlarged. The little pavilion, tucked into one corner of the site was constructed, partly at least, with materials from the former Winchelsea Tennis Club pavilion which stood beside the club’s courts when they were opposite Mariteau House…

WINCHELSEA BOWLS CLUB – From the archives to 1980

NB. These notes have been written on the basis of a season ending with an AGM.

It is interesting to note that the challenges encountered in attempting to run a successful bowls club have not changed much over the years.

In 1957 T Griffin was presented with a gift to honour his 25 years in the role of Secretary. This gives 1932 as the latest date for the formation of the club. It is, however, believed that the club actually began life in 1922.

The first accounts available in our archives are for the 1937 season. They show a membership of 16 and 11 matches were played.

In 1938 the club entered a league as well as playing friendlies:


The league teams were: Beckley, Armada Northiam, Newenden, Sedlescombe,  Rolvenden, Northiam (Elm Side) and Winchelsea. All matches were played in the evening and consisted of 2 rinks. For some reason it was decided not to enter the league the following year, and then the war intervened.

A meeting took place on 14th October 1947 ‘to discuss the laying out new bowling green’. A letter of thanks to be sent to Mrs Freeman for allowing the club to use the ground for 1/- per annum.

Up until this point bowls had been played in the garden of Col. Goldschmidt. This meeting was the beginning of the relocation to our present site.

Funds were raised from members and other local towns folk and In 1948 the accounts showed that in total receipts came to £34,11s,7d and costs amounted to £40,3s,1d.

The pavilion cost £10 and was brought onto site on or before 8th May 1948. Planning consent had been given on 24th February 1948.

Whilst the green was being laid the Goldschmidt Cup was being contested for the first time. It was won by T Griffin.

A ladies section was formed ready for the 1950 season.

Clearly there was some internal politics existing during the 1951 season. At a committee meeting held on 26th August 1951 it was intended to decide the date for the cup finale. With regret, it was noted, the committee was unable to come to any decision as Mr Rogers, one of the finalists, would not play the finale match. It was therefore agreed that the finale should be held over in abeyance until next season unless Mr Rogers altered his mind. “The committee regret this state of affairs and ask all members and friends to accept their disappointment which cannot be helped in the power of committee”.

However, on 3rd September 1951 Mr Rogers decided that he would play the final cup match and it was scheduled for 9th September. The match was played before a large gathering of friends and members. J C Rogers beat L Crisford 22 to 17. Mr Schofield spoke a few words to members about keeping harmony and friendship in the club.

On the same day a special committee meeting was held at the pavilion to consider a letter received from Mr Rogers resigning the Chairmanship at once and as groundsman at the end of the season. The resignation was accepted.

1964 saw the extension of the pavilion which was then rebuilt in 1970! A further extension was built in 1978.

In 1972 ‘The captain stressed the fact that we were a free and easy club with few rules, but there had to be more discipline in matches. Nos 1,2,3 had their jobs to do and should do them without argument. His remarks were received with applause’.

Clearly 1979 was not a happy season. At the AGM the Chairman opened the meeting with thanks to Mr Croggan for the extension to the ground and to Mr Carter for the work thereon. He then hoped that the coming year would be a happier one than the last. It had been noticed not only by the members but also by the visitors. “We must bury our differences and try to get along with one another”. The Captain reiterated the Chairman’s comments, quoting the Bowling Association book of rules – it is unimportant as to how many matches we lost, it is important that we are loyal and do nothing against the club. He also mentioned a letter received from a lady who left the club during the season because of incitement she received during a match. Thankfully, in 1980 the captain was able to report it was a ‘very happy season’.