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Club History

Orpington Bowling Club was founded in 1929, with its beginnings in the grounds of a large country house in the Walnuts in the centre of town where Sainsbury's, the market area and the swimming baths now stand.

Every English county used to have hundreds of such residences bearing testimony to the prosperity of commerce and industry in the 18th, and 19th, centuries, but by the beginning of the 1920s and 1930s they were becoming so expensive to maintain that many owners or trustees were compelled to dispose of them. Quite a number fell into the hands of Local Authorities. The buildings were either demolished or converted into children's homes, offices, libraries or small hospitals. The grounds often became parks, recreational areas and sports fields.

Orpington BC shared the grounds with other local associations. It rubbed shoulders with the lawn tennis players and the Hockey Club.

It appears that at first the land may have been rented from the owners because in 1937 it is recorded that Orpington UDC purchased 4.3 acres of land from the Walnut Estate for £1800. At this time building and land had never been cheaper.

About 1960 the Council wished to develop the land in the centre of town for commercial and civic purposes.

The Tennis, Hockey and Bowling Clubs were given notice to quit. The Tennis and Hockey sections were well and quickly provided for. They were offered facilities at a sports field in Goddington Lane on the site now occupied by St Olave's Grammar School. The Bowling Club was not as fortunate as there was no obvious green for them to be transferred to.

At the time it might have seemed to be the end of the road for the club. However, after copious enquiries and persistence, many Club members amalgamated with St Mary's BC. Their green was situated just off the High Street in St. Mary Cray. Alf Symonds, one of the clubs oldest members but sadly no longer with us, recalled “the members of the host club being very hospitable and friendly. The nucleus of the Orpington Club, however, must have found the green a little distant from their former haunts and they still clung to the belief that they should work towards re-establishing their independence in a more central situation”.

The interregnum was brief and lasted only a few seasons. A piece of land was found suitable for development on the present site at the edge of Goddington Park and in 1964 work was started to lay down a green and erect a clubhouse. This was completed within the year.

At the start of the clubs history, it was a man's game, mainly for the elderly and middle-aged however over the years both Ladies and Gentlemen members have integrated into the sport and although still considered an ‘old persons’ game at national and international levels is dominated by the 20 – 35 age group.

Bowls is played at a much more leisurely pace but it is a game of skill, dexterity, judgement and tactics with luck, as always, an important element. Energy and physical fitness come well down the list.


Orpington Bowling Club Club History
The original green at the Walnuts 1966 The original green at the Walnuts 1966
75th Anniversary 2004 75th Anniversary 2004