Romford Bowling Club

The Club was founded in1898 by William Goodchild, Snr when a three rink grass green was laid on what later became the Kings Head Yard, Market Place, Romford.

 

As well as sponsoring the first club trophy to be played – The Goodchild Cup – Mr Goodchild also presented the first Honours Board to the club in memory of his father. Unfortunately, this honours board was stored at St. Georges Hospital, Suttons Lane at the time of the move of the Club from The Kings Head Yard to Carlton Road in 1962, and was never seen again! Meanwhile, the Goodchild Cup became the Club Championship Trophy.

 

The Club celebrated its Silver Jubilee in 1923 and in 1928 a plot of land adjoining the site of the Old Green was acquired through the generosity of Charrington & Co. Brewers, and ably supported by Capt. A.J Dyer the proprietor of the Kings Head and the first full six rink Cumberland Turf Green in the area was laid on the site.

 

The Club continued to prosper at the Kings Head site and in 1934, one of its members, George Darby, was elected President of the Essex County Bowling Association.

In the early 1930’s The Romford Club also became a founder member and the headquarters of the Romford & District Bowls Association (R.B.A.), which, at the time consisted of about four clubs. That close association with the R.B.A. continues today and their meetings are still held at Romford Bowling Club.

 

Romford Bowling Club was also responsible for the foundation of the Essex Vice Presidents Bowling Association. This Association was founded in 1947 when a group of bowlers met at the kings head mainly at the instigation of the then County President John Wilson but with considerable support and encouragement from Albert Dyer, Mr Wilson became the Association’s first Secretary, Treasurer and  Selector and retained these posts until his retirement in 1966. The Association continued to meet at the Kings Head until 1970

It was Essex Vice Presidents Bowling Association which provided opposition on the celebrated Golden Jubilee of Romford Bowling Club in August 1948 by which time Albert Dyer, then the club treasurer and also President of the Essex Vice Presidents Bowling Association had been awarded the O.B.E.

Although Romford lost the match 104 - 113, this did not dampen the festive celebrations which continued afterwards in the King's Hall at the Jubilee Dinner where the toast to The Romford Bowling Club was proposed by Alderman A.W. Piper (Colchester Western B.C.), a former President of the English Bowls Assocaition. Albert Dyer (also an Alderman) replied on behalf of the club. One other feature of note from this Jubilee match  was that our President - Charlie Fancourt - played at No.2 in a rink which drew their match 13 - 13!

The other major event of the Golden Jubilee Year was the son of the club founder, Mr. W. Goodchild, presented a Jubilee Cup in the memory of his father, to be competed for by all members in the Jubilee Year. Unfortunately, we have no record of the eventual winner of the trophy.

Captain Albert Dyer, O.B.E, who had been the backbone of the club as well as a prominent citizen and past Mayor of Romford, died in 1956 and was a very sad time for the Club. He was the life and soul of any company he was in and this reflected in the sadness throughout the town at his passing

The diamond Jubilee of the club was celebrated on the 24th July 1958 with two 3 rink matches against Guiness B.C. and the RBA. Once again, the festivities continued in the Kings Hall where musoc was provided by the Stan Ward Trio

It was appropriate that Guinness B.C. should play a part in our Jubilee celebrations as a very close relationship had grown up between the clubs. This was mainly due to the personal friendship between Albert Dyer (who amongst this other interests was the proprietor of the Kings Head Hotel)  and Sir Hugh Beaver who designed the Park Royal Brewery. The annual fixture between the two clubs was, for many years the highlight of the season - especially when played at Guinness B.C. and our members were entertained personally in the Toucan Bar by Sir Hugh and then enjoyed the tea (!) in the Guinness Board Room !!

The Next major event in the history of the club was the compulsory take over by the Council of the Kings Head Hotel and the Bowling greens of ourselves and Liberty B.C. in 1962 to make way for the redevelopment of Romford Town Centre. In its place we were offered new greens which had been laid in Lodge Farm Park, whilst Liberty B.C. were offered the other. Liberty B.C> however declined to move to Lodge Farm Park.

The last match at the Kings head Green was played on 3rd October 1962 against a County select team consisting of one rink from each of the County's leading clubs. Romford lost the match 98 - 136 but, once again the result was forgotten at the after match celebration dinner in the Kings Head. By coincidence, the club's deputy president that year was one Charlie Fancourt !

The opening of the new green at Lodge Farm Park was celebrated in May 1963 with a match against the Mayor of Romford and his councillors (must have been a condition of the lease!) which, Romford wan comfortably to get their new home off to a successful start. The most notable feature of that match was the Mayor that year was a woman - Mrs Roberts - but the records show that our newly elected president allowed her to play!!

When Roneo-Vickers closed their company sports ground, which coincided with the move of Romford to Lodge Farm Park, the Company were anxious to ensure the continuation of their bowling club and took the opportunity to lease the second green at Lodge Farm Park which had been declined by Liberty B.C.

The two clubs shared the council rental for the greens and this arrangement worked satisfactorily for both clubs for many years.

Romford B.C. continued to grow from strength to strength at their new home, they were greatly assisted in their development when they successfully applied to licence the club pavilion in 1966.

When consideration was given to organising a match to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the club, Romford decided it was time to avenge the defeat inflicted by the Vice Presidents Association on the occasion of our Golden Jubilee in 1948 - we have long memories at Romford!!

Accordingly on Sunday 19th August 1973, Romford met the Essex Vice Presidents Association and emerged winners by 134 shots to 107! Once again however Charlie Fancourt could still only get a draw 19 - 19, but then on this occasion he had to carry John Franks and John Hollowbread as well as John Skinner.

With gradual and continuing reduction in their membership the remaining Roneo B.C. members decided in 1981 to join the Romford club and as a result, Romford B.C. were strengthened by the acquisition of several good bowlers, the majority of whom remain at Romford to this day! The new strengthened club also had the exclusive use of two greens at Lodge Farm Park.

The last twenty five years undoubtedly been the most successful in the club's history culminating in the winning of the County Shield in  1966. The individual and club honours won during this period are documented separately (Centenary Brochure 1898 - 1998) but no history of the club however brief would be complete without reference to some of the individual members who have contributed to the success of the club by dint of their hard work and dedication over the years, many who are no longer with us.

Reference has already been made to the Club Founders, William Goodchild and Albert Dyer, (the proprietor of the Kings Head) who held so many offices in the club and county with distinction over many years.

To these tow must ne added the name of our President, Charlie Fancourt whose name has been synonymous with Romford Bowling Club and Essex County Bowls over many years.

However, the strength of Romford Bowling Club is not about two or three individuals. It has been extremely fortunate to have had so many able and willing members prepared to give of their time in the interest of the club, but unfortunately, space allows only to mention a few.

In the past Tommy Knight was secretary of the club at the Kings Head and Lodge Farm Park, and put in tremendous work for the club at a crucial time; Jimmy Morris, Past President and Captain; Tommy Barrett, Treasurer and Handyman; Walter and Wyn Risebrow; Alf Viney and of course Bob Howie a tireless and hard working secretary now resident in Southend.

 

The legacy that these members left is being proudly carried on by the current members Jim Durrant, John Franks, Ron Bennett, John Varian and many others whilst the playing side goes from strength to strength and is in good future hands.

Finally no history of the club would be complete without reference to the introduction of the ladies section of the club in 1989. Since then, the section has become the ladies club and is having great success in its own right as well as being a considerable integral asset to Romford Bowling Club overall. the hope is that their club will develop as successfully in the future as the mens club has and that, toghether, we can look forward to the next 100 years with confidence.

A tight head at the Kings Head

Action behind the King's Head

The last match at the King's Head

The flag coming down for the last time

(Extracts from the Club's Centenary Brochure  1898 - 1998)

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