Chepstow Bowling Club – In Brief
- Popular mixed Club with approx. 140 members.
- Mixed Friendlies with Teams from England & Wales played on a weekly basis.
- Ladies – Ladies Teams play in the County Leagues, Competitions and Friendlies.
- Mens – Mens Teams play in the Monmouthshire Leagues and Welsh BA Cup, Competitions and Friendlies.
- Club Afternoon – A very friendly Monday afternoon game of bowls for club members.
- Competitions – At Club, County and National level plus Club Tournaments.
- Play as little or as often as you like !!
On Monday afternoon’s the entire green is reserved for Club Afternoon. No need to reserve in advance, just roll up to be drawn into a team for play.
Play is from 2.00 pm till approx 5.00 pm – meeting at 1.30 ish to be organised into mixed teams for a fun and friendly match.
All members of all abilities are welcome. Coaching is also provided if required.
Ladies – South Wales & Mon League – Tuesday Afternoon, Casnewydd League – Thursday evening.
Mens – Monmouthshire League Div. 1, Gwent Bowling League Div. 1, (both normally on Saturday afternoons). Over 60 League – Tuesday afternoon. East Mon League (Mid week normally)
The Club has a vibrant program of mixed friendly matches with other Clubs in Gwent. Gloucestershire. Avon and Somerset and North Devon – providing Club Members with the opportunity to play other clubs in a social competitive atmosphere.
The evolution of a bowling club in Chepstow began back in the late 19th century when workers in the shipyards played bowls and tennis on land in what is now Garden City. First records of workers using land at Hardwick for recreational purposes go back to 1897. Eventually a green and tennis courts were built down by the railway line in Garden City for the shipyard workers in 1918. (Ref 1 & 2)
The earliest remaining memorabilia is a silver bowls jack which commemorates the opening of Chepstow & District Bowling & Tennis Club in 1920 and was presented to the 1st President – John Thomson, whilst the first recorded trophy is the Chepstow British Legion Championship Cup which ran from 1927 to 1946. (Ref 3)
In June and July of 1928 Monmouthshire Beacon report of bowls matches between Redbrook and Chepstow British Legion and this has always been presumed to be the formal birth of Chepstow Bowling Club although this name was not confirmed until much later. Monmouthshire Bowling Association (MBA) records show an application to affiliate submitted by Chepstow British Legion in November 1933.
In 1938 the Red & White Bus Company donated some land adjacent to Mathern Road (to whom is unknown) which was eventually bought by Chepstow UDC and in 1948 leased to Chepstow Athletic Club (CAC). (Ref 3&4)
In the late 1950s and early 60s, the current bowling green was created with help from a local farmer and his machinery. (Ref 4). Extracts from a meeting in the White Lion show the formal naming of the club and the appointment of Officers. Chepstow Bowling Club, like its other fellow sports within the CAC fold, is a private club which is open to members only, but always welcomed new members whether experienced or not and still does!
On opening the club facilities were minimal and there was no clubhouse until 1973 when a one room ex prefab bought at great expense served as a club house with no kitchen or more importantly no toilets. Fortunately, immediately adjacent to the club was a public toilet which was used by club members and visitors, although there were times when this was closed when needed!!! In the early & mid 70s the membership used its skills to add a kitchen and 2 changing rooms – one much bigger that the other. Membership was very small in those days (about 20 men and 10 ladies) so everyone had to pull their weight but as there were bricklayers, electricians and plumbers in the fold, forward progress was maintained.
The green was always the overriding priority for the members who took great pride in it. In 1986 the automatic watering system was installed and this was the brainchild of the incumbent groundsman Peter Villars and with the exception of new sprinkler heads this system is still in place today.
At last in the winter of 1992/3, the club built its own toilets and more changing facilities as an extension to the existing building. No more nipping out to see if the public loos were open! The Sports Council of Wales lent the club 50% of the cost but repayment had to be guaranteed by a limited number of existing members to the tune of £1000 each.
Since then further extensions have been added including a large changing room for the Ladies, and enlarging the patio to make a big seating area and veranda. These have all been funded from the clubs own resources with the help of some small local grants.
When the Club moved to Mathern Road, bowls like many other sports, was still played in a very formal manner and in formal clothes. Ladies in particular were mandated to wear formal hats with club hat bands, certain length white skirts and specific shoes. Blazers and dark shoes had to be worn for travel with dark handbags and gloves as accessories. The Men were not quite as strict, but there were many formalities to be observed and woe betide any transgressor.
Today the game is far more relaxed and although team dress principles still apply, the introduction of coloured bowls and even shorts (!!!) make it a much more modern game and some might even say Cool!
Peter J Ralph – CBC President (2006-2020)
Acknowledgements & References:
- Peter Shapland (CBC Sec 1999-2017) – Historical research.
- Ref. 1 ‘Town of Chepstow’ – Ivor Waters. Ref 2. Anne Rainsbury – Chepstow Museum
- Ref 3. Chepstow British Legion – Ron Marie. Ref 4 Chepstow District Council – Steve Ryan
The Club has program of social events for members and their guests throughout the season – BBQ’s, auctions, teas etcetera – which are promoted in the Clubhouse and on the Members web site.