Centenary 1912-2012



On Saturday 11th May 1912 Mr H W (later Lord) Forster MP as owner of the land on which the Club was built, cast the first jack and bowled the first two bowls to officially open Bellingham Bowling Club. There followed a match between Bellingham and six rinks comprising of Brownswood, Bromley, Forest Hill, Mountsfield, a rink from the EBA and an Australian touring team. The result being three wins all, which in view of the strength of the opposition was an excellent result for Bellingham. This inaugural day was held in glorious weather with record temperatures for the time of year of 117F on the greens and 77F in the shade.


The Club flag was unfurled for the first time on opening day by Dorothy Rawley, who was presented with the Club emblem, a Swastika in the form of a gold brooch. The first Club flag was designed by three lady members and comprised of a green background with yellow edges and a yellow Swastika in the centre. At this time the Swastika was associated with sun worship, long before it became associated with Hitler and the Nazi Party; in fact the Swastika is an abbreviated emblem of the Solar Wheel.

In 1913 the Committee introduced a new club badge and it is basically the badge you see today, representing, on the Shield: Sword and cross of the City of London, the Horse Rampant of Kent and below a yellow Swastika on black background. Above the shield: the Lion of King Alfred (the first Lord of the manor of Lewisham), on either side the Laurel Wreaths of Victory. Below the shield: a scroll emblazoned with the Club name. At the outbreak of war in September 1939 as a matter of policy the Home Office directed that the Swastika be removed wherever it appeared. As a result a number of members removed the Swastika from their blazer badges, replacing it with Churchill’s “V “for victory sign. 

The AGM of 1962 agreed to officially remove the Swastika from all club insignia leaving just a plain black background; this was later changed to plain green. In 1974 it was agreed to add the Lewisham Borough’s gold Saxon Crown and Amulet to the green background, which now represents the current Club badge.Badge cut out  


Work commenced on the first Clubhouse in December 1911 and was completed in time for the opening on the 11th May 1912. On the 11th November 1913 a massive fire consumed the Clubhouse leaving the building completely gutted; the only item saved being the English v Scots member’s shield, which can still be seen at the Club today. In view of a previous warning in March 1913 that the Suffragettes intended to burn down the Clubhouse, the Police made a thorough search but were unable to find any evidence that the fire had been started deliberately.

Following many offers of help and assistance the Committee was able to implement early plans for the rebuilding of a bigger and better Clubhouse. Work commenced on the 15th January 1914 and the new Clubhouse was completed in time for the official opening on 25th April 1914.  

In 1932 as thanks for his year as President, John Graham built an extension to the south west end of the Clubhouse adding a Men’s changing room, also extending the balcony. 

In 1932 although members expressed a wish to own the Club freehold, it was not until 1972 that the Club were able to make an offer to buy the freehold from the Forster Estate, this was declined by them at that time. Following an offer in March 1976 to sell from the new Landlords, the Club successfully purchased the freehold of the land in 1977.  

In 1993 the tennis courts were sold, resulting in sufficient funds being available to build a new Clubhouse, the old Clubhouse was demolished just prior to the end of the 1993 season, a garden shed being used as a bar for the last month of the season. In 1994 the new Clubhouse was completed, the occasion being celebrated by a joint game Bellingham Ladies v KCWBA and Bellingham Men v KCBA.  


On the 26th October 1912 membership was recorded as 416 comprising of 97 bowls, 98 tennis, and 63 croquet, 108 honorary and 50 founder members (40 bowls & 10 tennis). In 1922 the Club membership stood at 574 a figure which has never been surpassed, being 188 bowls, 106 tennis, 40 croquet and 240 honorary members. In 1962 total membership stood at 378 and in 1980 membership of 374. The membership has continued to decline due partly to the closure of all Sections except bowls.  

In May 1936 Mr H Shattock became the first member to be given life membership of the Club, there have subsequently been 29 members given life membership. The following members have had at least 50 years membership:  

Mrs B Jones 1919-1969, Mr J Graham 1919-1969, Mr R Harrison 1931-1981, Mrs P Harrison 1934-1984, Mr C Jones 1935-1985, Mrs M Wingfield 1936-1986, Mr A Sweeny 1936-1986, Mr R Hillcock 1958-present.  


The first Club annual dinner was held on the 22nd October 1913 tickets were 4 shillings (20p) 121 members and friends attended, the Men wearing morning dress.  

The first Gala Day was held on the 29th June 1912 taking the form of matches and special events, with light music, displays of Highland dancing and in the evening a concert in the Clubhouse. The spirit of Carnival was dropped in 1928 and in 1931 the event was changed to Hospitals Day, success of the events can be measured by the amount of £3,577 donated to various hospital charities. Gala Days became an annual event and continued in various forms until 1939. In 1920 two beds in the Miller Hospital (now closed) were endowed by the Club in memory of members and member’s families who fell in the 1914 – 1918 war, each President of Bellingham (at the request of the hospital) became a Life Governor of the Hospital during his term of office.  

Club concerts were held regularly through the 1930s, with many famous music hall stars of the day such as Elsie & Doris Walters, Webster Booth and Arthur Askey performing.

1957 saw the introduction of the Birthday Supper which from that time has been held on the nearest Saturday to the 11th May (the Club’s birthday) and continues to this day.  

The Club’s 1962 Golden Jubilee opening day was marked by a gala day with members wearing 1912 period dress.  

Dart nights, beer festivals, discos, whist drives, bingo and other events keep the club’s social activities ongoing. 


The Club has a proud record of both National and County players over the years, arguably the best of these being W Barlow, who was EBA Singles runner up in 1928, L & SC Gold Badge winner 1923, Lonsdale Badge winner 1926, Gold Badge R/U 1950, Kent County Singles Winner 1928, 1936, 1938, 1939, Singles R/U 1929, 1956, Pairs Winner 1954. He also won the Club Singles Championship nine times from 1922 to 1940. Also:

  • T C Hills was Empire Pairs Champion in 1930 & 1934, played in six international matches and was L & SC Lonsdale Badge R/U in 1931 & 1938. 
  • EBA National honours have also been obtained by Fours R/U 1913: J Muter, W Moore, A Taylor, J Galloway. 
  • 1919: Singles Winner E E Moore,
  • 1945: Pairs Winners G Douglas & I Snelgar.
  • 1992: Mixed Pairs R/U Mr R Riley & Mrs S Riley. 

Club Singles Championship has been played every year since 1912 with exception of 1921 (when extreme drought closed the greens) and the war years 1941 to 1944. W Barlow having won the competition nine times from 1922 to 1940, with E Moore 1913 to 1920 and Bob Cumming 1981 to 2011 vying for second place, both having won five times. Ivor Beatty holds the club record as the only player winning the Handicap Singles Competition in successive years, having to play with a 14 shot handicap in the 2nd year.

2009 saw the introduction of a Club Mixed Singles Competition the winner being Mr D Chappell subsequent winners in 2010 Mr P M Rackley & 2011 Mr A Smith.

In recent years a number of members have reached Kent County Finals they are: 

  • 1985 Unbadged Singles R/U R Cumming:
  • 1990 Rink R/U S Smith, A Smith, C Hunt, R Riley:
  • 1994 Singles R/U R Riley
  • 1999 Unbadged Singles Winner R Benneworth:
  • 2000 Pairs Winners H Davies, J Woodley
  • 2002 Triples R/U R Cumming, R Richardson, D Sumpter:
  • 2004 2 Wood Singles R/U R Abbs
  • 2006 Pairs R/U R Abbs, R Cumming

Bellingham Week Open Championships commenced Monday 12th August 1918, the Finals being played on Saturday 17th August 1918, (lunches were available at 1s 2d per head) and have continued to this day, (although lunch prices have risen a little since then) the only changes being the introduction of mixed competitions and reduction to a four day tournament in July 2011.


Whilst the Ladies’ Section was not formed until 1957 they were heavily involved in club activities from inception of the club in 1912. Throughout the first 50 years of the Club’s life the Ladies’ House Committee prepared refreshments and meals for the hundreds of visitors and players who attended the Club. 

In the 1914 season a rink was set aside for lady bowlers and a “parasol” tournament on the same lines as the men’s “umbrella” tournament was introduced. From 1912 until 1932 ladies’ played in both mixed and ladies’ Club competitions, but following a proposal at the 1932 AGM mixed bowling was banned and there were no ladies matches held again until the formation of the Ladies’ Section in 1957. 

Within a few years the Ladies’ Section was a force to be reckoned with, in 1967 Mrs G Gregory, Mrs M King, Mrs G Tucker & Mrs E Harnett as R/U in the County Fours Final were the first Bellingham Ladies’ to play in the EWBA National Finals at Wimbledon in June 1967. 

In 1973 Vera West joined the Club and can probably claim title as one of the best Lady bowlers, prior to joining the club her record in KCWBA Competitions was impressive: 1967 winner Fours champions, 1971 Pairs champion & R/U 2 Wood Singles, 1972 R/U Singles, after joining the Club: 1973 Singles Winner, 1974 R/U Singles, 1975 Singles Winner, 1980 Singles Winner, 1986 2 Wood Singles Winner & R/U Singles. She was also Quarter Finalist in 1974 EWBA National Women’s Singles Competition.

In 1979 a proposal to introduce an open competition for Ladies’ between 19 local clubs was agreed, as the competition emanated from Bellingham the trophy was named the “ Belle Trophy “, the competition continues to this day. 

In 1981 S Perkins, A Gordon, E West were EWBA National Triples Competitions R/U. 

The Ladies’ Club Singles Championship honours go equally to Mrs V West, Mrs E West and Mrs F Chappell all having won the competition six times.

Mentioned should also be made of Mrs S Riley who with her husband Ron Riley were Runners Up in the 1992 EBA National Mixed Pairs Competition. 

In recent years a number of members have reached Kent County Finals they are:

  • 1967 Rink Runners Up G Gregory M King G Tucker E Harnett
  • 1969 2 Wood Singles Winner W Moon
  • 1972 Singles Runner Up V West
  • 1973 Singles Winner V West
  • 1974 Singles Runner Up V West
  • 1975 Singles Winner V West
  • 1976 2 Wood Singles Winner A Hickey
  • 1980 Singles Winner V West
  • 1981 Rink Runners Up M Bunting M Rogers S Perkins E West
  • 1984 Triples Runners Up S Perkins A Gordon E West
  • 1985 Singles Winner B Green
  • 1985 Pairs Winners C Richards A Gordon
  • 1986 2 Wood Singles Winner V West
  • 1986 Singles Runner Up V West
  • 1986 Triples Runners Up S Perkins A Gordon E West
  • 1988 Pairs Winners A Gordon E West
  • 1990 Singles Winner E West
  • 1991 Mollie Gleggett Trophy Winners
  • 1993 Mollie Gleggett Trophy Winners
  • 1996 Singles Runner Up N Beeston
  • 1996 Maude Wood Trophy S Riley
  • 1998 Pairs Winners L Stevens C Benneworth
  • 2008 Benevolent Triples N Bond K Lanston F Chappell.


On the 10th May 1986 following proposals from Brian King and Sid Hocknell, the Short Mat section was formed with matches being played within the Club house.  The section is still well supported by members with three short mats being used throughout the winter. Whilst the section only play casual matches and Club competitions, member Alan Canham was selected in 2011 to play short mat for London Region.