HISTORY OF THE CLUB
In 1902, BTBC was born from of a desire of some older members of Bromley Town Cricket Club to continue to enjoy a less strenuous form of exercise and friendly competition. There were 30 (male) members and their subscription was 10s 6d – or 52p! The first match was played on 17th May 1902.
The combined clubs were originally sited in Bromley North, but moved to Hayes Lane in the winter of 1904/5. In 1906, the Bowls club became a separate entity from the Cricket club. At first, the green was only 3 rinks wide but by 1908 it had been enlarged and a pavilion had been erected.
Membership grew steadily until WW1. By 1920, there were less than 50 members, but a recruitment drive in 1921 brought 25 new members which also helped to swell the coffers.
1936 – 1938 saw a period of uncertainty as the lease was expiring. Bromley Town Sports Company Ltd was formed to acquire the lease of the green and surrounding land. A new green was laid and first used in 1939. WW2 saw sad changes of fortune with the decline of membership and subscriptions. The green also suffered greatly.
Bromley Town Sports Club Ltd was dissolved in 1972, after it had been sold to a Mr Lyle of Tunbridge Wells. He leased the grounds to BTBC until 1996, when he sold it to Waites Leisure who redeveloped the site into the present gymnasium and swimming pool. During the rebuilding, the bowling green was enclosed in a wire and post cage for protection – this made for interesting playing! The present clubhouse was built in 1998.
Our first Charity Day was held in 1985. It was a Men Only affair, but since then it has always been a mixed match. Currently this fixture is played annually between BTBC and Nuffield’s; the proceeds go towards a charity, which is alternatively chosen by Nuffield of BTBC.
BTBC celebrated it’s centenary in 2002, marking it with special matches , an anniversary dinner, the erection of the bowls weather vane and the production of “Bromley Town Bowling Club – The First Hundred Years” by Peter Rayfield *.
And what about the Ladies?
Wives of the members were allowed into the club for Tea Duties, but for a long time that was the nearest they could get to playing!
The first Ladies Day was held in August 1922 and ladies were invited to the Annual Dinner for the first time that year. At the AGM in 1924, a resolution that ladies be allowed to use the green one afternoon each week was defeated. However, it was agreed that the ladies would be allowed to use the green during the week leading up to Ladies Day.
Despite having campaigners supporting the entry for ladies into the club, this was consistently outvoted for many years. Finally at the AGM in 1955, the resolution “that the tea ladies be allowed to play after tea [had been served] on Saturdays and Sundays if a rink is available” was just approved by 22-20 votes.
In 1958, despite strong opposition, this resolution was carried: “Ladies shall be permitted to play, when rinks are available, on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday afternoons until 6pm”. The Ladies’ subscription was set at £2. All wives, including those NOT on the tea committee were allowed to apply for membership, although the maximum membership was set at 25.
The first Ladies committee was formed in 1960. The first ten years averaged 15 members: these members were very active in raising money through whist drives, raffles etc and the men began to see that Lady members had advantages beyond the teapot....
In 1981, ladies were granted the use of 3 rinks on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In addition, single ladies were given equal access to membership.
Today, of course, no such sexism remains. Our new President is the second woman to hold this office and all members are valued equally for the contribution each makes to the club.