Bowling Along For 100 Years

Chapter 5 - The War Years

1939

A quiet year with the uncertainty of war hanging in the air, but it was pleasing to note that after all the complaints, ‘A’ green, the one nearest the town, was re-laid. A proposal to build an indoor green at The Dell in Warwick Place was not pursued.

An unusual result in the local derby saw a win against Avenue by 10 shots, despite losing 5 of the 6 rinks, but a 44-5 win on the 6th swung the balance. There was a tour to Scotland, and a mini-tour to South Wales.

The Open Tournament attracted over 300 entries and it is noted that for the first time everybody appeared to be wearing whites. The Council gave permission for the Tournament to be staged in 1940 and both the club and the County announced that they would continue to operate.

1940

Things were obviously becoming very difficult. Despite permission being given the previous year, there was still a query about holding the Open Tournament, but in March it was decided to go ahead. However by June it became apparent that there would be insufficient entrants and it was abandoned.

For the first time the club was granted free use of the greens for home matches.

Towards the end of the season, a wreath was sent to the funeral of one of the members “from the members of Royal Leamington Spa Bowling Club”, the first time that the ‘Royal’ prefix had been used. Whether it was a mistake or just prophetic is not known because it was to be several years before it became the official name of the club.

1941

The Leamington Courier was considerably reduced in size and quite rightly much of it was devoted to the war and news of local servicemen. In consequence sport had very little coverage.

In order to give more relaxation to those working hard for the war effort the greens were open from 2pm to 10pm, but not on Sundays.

1942

The council were again approached on the question of season tickets but once more the request fell on deaf ears.

Under the leadership of the Duke of Gloucester, supported by the Sports Association, bowlers from clubs across the country were urged to play competitions in aid of the Red Cross, to provide comforts for our troops. The slogan used was ‘Play a game and provide a parcel for a Prisoner of War’.

The railings around the bowling greens were removed to be melted down for providing munitions, and other means of protecting the greens were discussed.

Despite the very difficult conditions the club had a reasonably good season, although it was increasingly hard to find fixtures due to the difficulty of travelling. Fortunately both the Avenue and Lillington clubs were still operating and featured more than usual on the fixture list.

1943

Only nine matches were played during the season, but competitions were all completed.

In answer to the appeal launched in the previous season, a competition was held in aid of the Red Cross and produced one of the best contributions to this fund in the county.

1944

A good season for the club, including several convincing wins. In August, Warwickshire played Oxfordshire at Victoria Park.

It was decided to stage a ’Holiday Bowls Tournament’ over the August Bank Holiday to maintain the interest created by the Leamington Open, and mention was made of a possible fourth green. However arguments were being put forward in the council chamber for this to be built in the Eagle Recreation Ground, while a letter in the Courier suggested that if there was to be one it should be located in the Jephson Gardens.

Councillor Salt, the leading voice for bowlers on the council, presented a petition which urged that before considering the Eagle site, more thought should be given to a further green at Victoria Park to enable the Open Tournament to grow once the war was over.

However the council decided, later in the year, to take no action on a new green but to construct 5 new grass tennis courts.

1945

18 of the 19 games played were won, and for the first time the County finals were staged at the club. Membership now stood at 90 – all men.

The Leamington Open Tournament started again and as a result Councillor Salt was able to present another petition to the council pleading for a fourth green, this time with over 300 signatories. It was stated that, with the backing of the council, it was the aim of the Tournament Committee to make it the biggest and best Open in the country.

Unfortunately it was again unsuccessful with some councillors still attempting to get one built on the Eagle recreation ground, although this did not receive much support either.

Account

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