History of Howard Park Bowling Club
When the London overspill development started in Basingstoke in the 1960’s South Ham was one of the first to be built. The estate included Russell Howard Park, named after a local Councilor, as a recreation area with football and cricket pitches, tennis courts and two bowling green’s. The pavilion was manned by a Park Keeper and the facilities were intended for public hire.
This is where Howard Park Bowling Club was born and in 1969 a group of local residents, encouraged by a local Councilor named Jim Balding, decided to form a bowling club with the intention of entering a team in the Basingstoke League. Howard Park Bowling Club had the choice of both greens and chose the bottom one, their current home.
From starting with just 15 members the club quickly established it’s self and in 1970 became a member of the Basingstoke league.
The club quickly grew, both in playing numbers and facilities. A maximum of 120 players was soon achieved and a prefabricated clubhouse was erected by the members in 1978. This was great improvement on the very basic facilities that the members had become accustomed to. Now the members enjoy some of the best facilities in the area with a very comfortable air conditioned clubhouse.
In 2009, the Club’s 40th playing season, a new lease was negotiated with the council for a further 21 years. So after a period when membership numbers have proved difficult within the game, for all clubs, Howard Park Bowling Club is pleased to see its membership growing once again and looks forward to the future with growing confidence.
Some four years or so ago Bill Ray aided initially by Tony Kite realised that the club house probably would not last very long so between them they organised the refurbishment. There was a lot of work fundraising and applying for grants from specifically Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council. Plans had to be drawn up tenders sent out and many site surveys needed to take place all of which took an inordinate amount of time and effort.
Bill, particularly was resolute in his determination to see things through, now with added assistance from Peter Bench and Norman Figg. Then in April 2018 their efforts were rewarded and a substantial grant was awarded by the Council, with a tender for the external work required being accepted by a local builder, A. Monger Ltd, later in the year. Work started in November 2018 and was completed four weeks ahead of schedule in March this year. The internal work i.e. decorating etc. was undertaken by a small team of members. Having said that, the building contractors did a lot of work over and above their remit. All was completed on time and on budget.
The club house is now complete which includes facilities for disabled players and is something the members can be very proud of. As a result an open weekend was organised on 4 and 5 May. The response was such that we now have 29 new members. A great effort by all concerned. We now look forward to the new season.
Hope springs eternal that more people will wish to take up the sport that is so deceptively simple but is sufficiently complex in its subtleties to give a lifetime of pleasure.