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THE HISTORY OF

1909 CLEOBURY MORTIMER BOWLING CLUB 2009

The exact age of the bowling green is unclear.  It is thought to have originally been a ‘piece of ground’ where the local shopkeepers used to cut the grass to enable them to play bowls on early closing days. 

What is certain is that in 1908 the green was dug up and re-laid by a construction gang working on the nearby Ditton Priors railway line.  The work was supervised by Walter Atkinson, a civil engineer on the railway contract who eventually became Captain of the club.  This is the same green we play on today.

In 1924, a Sidney James Heighway moved into Cleobury Mortimer to become headmaster of the local school. He eventually became secretary of the bowls club and arranged for the club to play some friendly matches.  He owned a ‘Wagonette’ pulled by two horses under the control of his horseman ‘Mullard’; this was used to take members to friendly matches including Hadley near Droitwitch and Bylet, Bridgnorth.

Probably the most famous member was Simon Evans, the Postman Poet who was a member in the 1930s.  His biography can be read on Wikipedea, Simon Evans (writer).  

 In 1933 the first written accounts (that can be found) of the club showed a membership of 33 with the subs at 10/- (=50p) per season.

The members purchased the land on which the bowling club stood. The details of the date and price paid are not on record.  In 1941 the land had to be sold because of the inability of the club to pay the mortgage, because of falling membership.  The land was then used for sheep grazing until 1945.

The club was formally reformed in 1947 with subs still at 10/s. per season, paying £1. per quarter to the owner of the land.

The club operated in a very informal way for many years with limited facilities with members cutting the green when they wanted to play a game. The club adopted a more formal approach to its activities by opening a bank account in 1968 when the subscriptions were £1. per annum for men 15/- for ladies and 5/- for OAPs.

Throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s the club played some friendly matches against other local clubs eventually joining the South Shropshire bowls league in 1983.

The club faced a crisis in 1984 when the owner of the land gave notice to quit, to enable her to submit an application to build three  houses on the land.  After a long legal battle the matter was resolved with the club obtaining a 999 year lease on the land.  The chairman of the club at that time, Bill Hodges and his wife Edna were very much involved in this ‘battle’ and it is down to their tenacity that the club was saved.

In 1997 the club obtained a sports council Lottery award for £55,000 to assist towards the building of a new Pavilion. This left a shortfall of £6,000 which had to be raised by the club.  After a lot of hard work by members organising fund raising events, the building was formally opened in 1998.  The now thriving club has a membership of 100+ members with teams in the Ludlow and Highley leagues.  For the last three years it has organised charity days and has   raised £100s of pounds for the Air Ambulance.

A recent innovation; is that one of our members is to organise coaching sessions for pupils from the local school, where new bowlers can be encouraged so ensuring the future of the club.