Brief History of St Saviour's Bowls Club

In late 1978 work started on the foundation of our green by the States of Jersey Education Department to enhance the new Grainville Sports Complex and the green to be used by Bowls’ Clubs and/or Associations.

On 13th December 1979, all persons interested in joining a new Bowls Club were invited to attend a meeting at the St Saviour’s Parish Hall. Sixty persons attended the meeting that was presided over by the late Mr Leonard ‘Bunny’ Austin and he was duly elected President of the new St. Saviour’s Bowls Club, with 40 potential members. As far as existing records go there are at least 2 founder members, still members to-day:

Bill Blampied
Barr Stephenson Jnr

Bill is the only member still playing and was made an Honorary Life Member in 2021, Barr is an Honorary Life Member.

A Committee was elected at that meeting to make the necessary arrangements to commence bowls for the 1980 season.

President:   Leslie “Bunny” Austin
Vice Presidents:  Eric Fowler & Ray Robins
Secretary:  Mrs P Stolte*
Tresurer:  Mrs Thersa Le Marquand
Committee:  Mrs Copley*, Gerald de la Haye, Peter Holt & Charles Wingfield.

*Both Mrs Stolte and Mrs Copley resigned before the first Committee meeting on 10th January 1980, so Mrs Roselle Robins and Mrs Iris Fowler were co-opted to the Committee on 7th February 1980.

His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor General Sir Peter Whitely agreed to become a Patron of the Club as did the late Mr. Leonard Norman the then Constable of St. Saviour.

A grant of £2,000 was received from the Education Committee for the purchase of bowls. Gifts of bowls and a trophy were received from local business houses. A small hut to contain equipment was erected in the corner where the flagpole now stands. It was also the changing room and shelter from the weather, so you can imagine what a tight squeeze it was when it rained! The Subscription for the first year was £12 and 108 members joined. In 1981, membership was 93.

In 1982, the Club was included in the Island Fixture List to play against visiting Clubs, with the first two matches against Plymouth and Broadway. Also, that year, the Club was entered in the Men’s Toco and Ladies’ Wyn Mead inter club leagues. The Club membership for 1982 was 56 men and 43 women.

From the 6th to the 9th May 1983, the Club hosted the Seymour International Bowls Tournament, with players from England, Scotland, Wales, and Jersey. This was the first International Tournament held in the Island. A marquee for refreshments etc. was erected between the green and the tennis courts and a viewing stand for a hundred spectators set up on the West bank of the Green.

After several requests by Club Members, permission was granted to start morning bowls sessions These proved to be extremely popular with our ‘roll-up’ members and with visiting clubs. Northern Bowling Association, Guernsey visited us for the first time, and it was agreed that this match should be an annual event played on alternate islands.

In September 1984, proceedings were instigated to build a new Club House.(There had been competition with the Tennis Association to have it built as a dual construction with the Tennis Courts and the Bowls Green, which did not proceed). The cost was expected to be £12,000 and was to be financed by the States of Jersey Education Department. The pavilion was eventually built on its present site. It was at this time that an equipment shed was erected at the rear of the pavilion and a water supply installed.

In 1985 His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor, Admiral Sir William Pillar was made a Patron of the Club, he and his wife Lady Pillar were regular bowlers on Opening days and other tournaments during their term in office.

Also in 1985, the Club hosted the 2nd Seymour Bowls International with a three-tier covered stand erected for spectators and the refreshments in the new Club House.

The area between the Club Green and the Tennis Courts has been sought after by the Club on numerous occasions as a facility for car parking and at one time as an all-weather rink on a green to train and coach new members. These applications were all turned down with the reason being ‘change of use’ and ‘leave as it is, or it may be lost altogether.’ Eventually, our luck changed in 2013 and parking development was agreed.

In the summer of 1988 further moves were made to extend the pavilion and drawings were produced. An extension of 20’ x 10’ was eventually built in 1990 at a cost of £11,704,  with the Education Department donating £5,200 towards the cost.

As 1990 was the tenth anniversary of the Club, it was decided to celebrate it with a bowls tour to the UK. This was a first and from the 5th to 12th May, a party of 60 members went to Torquay staying at the Foxlands Hotel.

In 1991, Stuart and Dorothy Weaving donated a flagpole and it was duly erected by volunteer members.

In May 1992, a party of 60 members went on a bowls tour to Bournemouth, then to the Langham Hotel Eastbourne in 1993.

In 1994 the tour went to the Royal York and Faulkner Hotel Sidmouth, then to Eastbourne again in 1995, followed by Torquay in 1996, Newquay in 1997, and Cheltenham 1998. Next was the Moat House Hotel Northants in 1999.

A change followed in 2000 with a tour to Spain, and it does rain there. Then to Salisbury in 2001, back to Torquay in 2002, The Thistle Hotel (of TV Crossroads fame), in Cheltenham in 2003, and The White House Hotel Worcester in 2004.

In 2005, it was East Grinstead, near Tunbridge Wells, then the Four Pillars Hotel in Abingdon in 2006, followed by the Abbots Barton Hotel in Canterbury Kent in 2007. In 2008, it was the Swan Hotel Bedford, then the Winchester Hotel Winchester in 2009, and the Grand Hotel in Bristol 2010. 2012 saw a trip to the Chichester Park Hotel, Chichester.

In 2011 came our 1st trip to Guernsey to play all 3 Guernsey clubs, followed by bi-annual trips in 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019.

Europe then beckoned in 2016, with a trip to the Costa Laga Hotel in Torremolinos followed in 2018 by a tour to the Algarve in Portugal. In the autumn of 2019, a 2nd tour went to the Algarve to Playa da Rocha.

On 29th September 1992 the St. Saviour’s Parish Constable, Mr Jack Roche officially opened the new extension to the Pavilion. As well as new cloakroom facilities, improvements to the kitchen, it included the conservatory as a viewing area. A Club Member, Mrs Mabel Manning allowed vital drainage connections to be made from the new extension to her property next door. Messrs D. C. Allen Limited were the builders and the cost of £40,458.82 was financed from Club funds and a contribution of £15,000 from the Sports Council.

Success came in 1994 in the Inter-Club League, when our Morel Cup Team pulled off an amazing victory. Before the final round was played the team were lying third in the League with 14 points. Their opponents in the last match were the JBC, with 19 points and only needed to draw on one rink to win the trophy. The St Saviour’s three rinks all won to snatch the trophy. In 2013, we saw TWO further Inter-Club League successes with the Morel by 1.5 points and the Le Marquand by 15.5 points. The Le Marquand Team followed this with another success the next year and the Elizabeth Collings and Morel Teams both came second that year. In 2018 the Morel team won, and the Elizabeth Colling Team came second and in 2019, the Morel had their 2nd win in 2 years.

In 1997 the floodlighting system was installed, which was financed by Stuart and Dorothy Weaving, and greatly appreciated by evening bowlers.

At last, a long-awaited 9 years lease was signed. It took a long time to agree to its terms. The President, Mr David Humpleby, gets a big vote of thanks for developing and finalising this document. Also, he, with help from other Club Members, put in many hours writing our Constitution and Rules to the satisfaction of the Solicitors to the Royal Court so that the Club could incorporate under the “Loi (1862) sur le tenures en fideicommis et l’incorporation d’association”, as amended.

Our Greenkeeper from our inauguration was Bill Blampied. He did an excellent job to get our bowling underway and retired at the end of 1999 after 21 years’ service and is still a frequent playing member. He is also our only still playing Founder Member. His position was taken over by Ian Vautier who continued the good work but unfortunately, in 2010 he died, and the greens have been excellently looked after since then by Bill’s son Steve Blampied until he retired in 2021.

In 2000, we had important additions to our membership, our mascots Jack and Kitty – they sit and watch all home matches, so maybe it is time they were elected to the selection committee!

Our very energetic volunteers, ably led by Vernon Pallot, were at it again in 2001, this time they erected a larger equipment shed alongside the pavilion.

In September 2002, our Club was honoured to host the Dennyside Bowling Association on their annual fundraising match in aid of our chosen charity. (Every member must be invited to join the Association as a reward for services rendered to the game, either at club, county, or national level). The match raised the sum of £1,880 which was donated to the Jersey Cancer Relief.

To make social bowls more interesting, in 2003, Denize and Peter Le Corre introduced a new ‘Jack High’ tournament, with players permitted to dress in mufti and they had to draw for team position and rinks. At the end of play, a magnificent BBQ was cooked with all the trimmings. Also in this year, the 100 club was introduced, and the funds raised from these events were used to finance the new kitchen and fund whatever equipment or furniture the Club required thereafter.

A big extension to the pavilion was carried out in 2004, and what a success it was. Improvements were made to the cloakroom and combined locker room; a beautiful new kitchen was built with much bigger club room facilities being created. Our two Vice-Presidents, Derek Ferguson and Geoff Shepherd, worked tirelessly on the planning, arranging site meetings, alterations, and construction of the extension and were ably assisted by Club members.

The development included a viewing area that was generously sponsored by our Patron, Stuart Weaving. The total cost was £49,000 which included financial assistance of £24,000 from The States of Jersey Education, Sports and Culture and the balance paid from Club funds and Stuart’s sponsorship. The new pavilion was officially opened by Ben Fox Vice President ESC.

After such a lot of work at the Club, life was a little quieter for a few years, although in 2007, the Club’s new modern shirts and jackets arrived and brightened up the players.

In 2011, the Committee Room floor was re-concreted and new plastic edging was fixed to the green to stop them sinking.

In 2012, a monumental battle with ESC was partially won when they agreed to and laid the first line of hoggin at the back of the green so that disabled parking was available to club members. What a difference that made to our older bowlers.

Never ones to sit on our laurels for very long, in 2013, the Club’s 10 Year modernisation programme was developed and started. The Club needed a better electricity supply, so with quick footedness from Mervyn Richardson, 3 Phase electricity was installed by the JEC at the same time as they had the road up and were connecting electricity to the new Langtry Gardens. A team of our members, with Mervyn, dug the trench to the road to bring the cable to the clubhouse. Although we only needed to use the Phase 1 supply at that time, we had Phase 3 capability with only a little extra development and cost and in fact, we converted to Phase 3 in 2021.

During the winter months, our construction team laid a second line of hoggin in the parking area and Stuart Weaving donated a new dishwasher which was installed and welcomed with open arms by our Catering teams.

In the same year, David Ingram was appointed as President of the British Isles Bowls Council, a position he held for 2 years.

2014, with an interest-free loan from a club member, the Pavilion Team of John Le Goff and Fred Jeanne built the bar, installed fridges and washing facilities, upgraded the men’s and ladies toilets, and arranged for an automatic fire alarm system to be installed all to meet the licencing laws. This project included architect plans, permissions from all and sundry, inspections by everyone possible, and a trip to the Royal Court in April 2015. But what a huge social and financial success it has been. Not only is it enjoyed by our members, but it goes down a treat with all the other local teams and visiting clubs. The loan which was only ever repayable using half of the bar profits was fully repaid in 2021.

Another team of volunteers converted the area beside the pavilion into a proper Petanque rink. ESC contributed £ for £ towards the cost and the fire safety upgrade.

In the winter of 2015, 10 wall heaters were installed. We had sourced them almost new for £100. Removable partitions and kitchen hatch covers were made to close off the pavilion from the conservatory in the winter months. The trolley bag shelves and new shelves in the committee room were built, new sills and additional wall battening were installed at the back of the clubhouse and two new double-glazed windows (all the way from France) were installed. The carpet tiles in the conservatory were also replaced with a donation from Andy and Nancy Harris (as they were fed up trying to clean the black carpet tiles which looked messy minutes after they had been cleaned).

The winter of 2016 saw the laying of the last line of hoggin in the parking area, which included levelling it off and fitting rope fencing and sleepers. This was the hardest part of the parking area conversion as the lower slope was very deep and needed levelling off. For the first time, we had a full parking area. It only took 36 years to get it!

In 2016 our Patron, Stuart Weaving, very kindly brought the Club a polishing iron, so 2 new equipment sheds were needed, one for the iron and the other to replace the original equipment shed, which was now in poor condition. New concrete floors were laid, including levelling off the equipment shed floor and both sheds were built and shelved on site. It is so much easier now to put the equipment trolley away.

Replacement comfortable chairs were ‘diverted’ from ESC storage and new round tables were purchased. Dorothy Weaving thought we needed some nice new round tables clothes for them and hey presto, they were there. What a difference this has made to socialising in the clubhouse. Also, a barely used electric Range Cooker was acquired without cost from Les Creux.

Unfortunately, in June 2017 Mr Ted Vibert decided to sue the club for damages because we had not accepted him as a member.  In October we won the case, but he immediately appealed. We won the appeal in February 2018 with the Deputy Bailiff saying we had “no case to answer”. The case and the appeal cost the Club £10.5K and despite being granted costs against him, we have not recovered a single penny.

In 2018, with the new Range cooker, a completely new kitchen was designed and installed, with the cupboards generously provided by our Patron, Stuart Weaving. The sinks were all moved together, the cooker installed, and the cupboards re-built with a working island in the middle of the kitchen. The front serving area was also ‘opened up’ to make serving easier. The Catering Team loved the improvements.

This saw the completion of the 10 Year modernisation programme in 5 years and enormous thanks must go to John Le Goff and Fred Jeanne for the hundreds and hundreds of hours of work they put in to complete all the building work between 2013-2018. They were also ably assisted by many other volunteer members doing painting, digging, hoggin laying, sleeper laying, etc. during this time.

We hosted our first Corporate Event with full BBQ for Deloitte Accountants, which was an enormous success for both them and the Club and proved by the fact they came back the following year. We also hosted 2 smaller corporate events that year.

Our first JEMEC Open Pairs Tournament, put together by Graeme Le Monnier based on an idea by Paul Du Feu, was played. The Tournament has been played every year since and is always very well received by bowlers from all the clubs and is a great success.

2019 saw a covered area being built beside the equipment shed so that we could cook BBQs out of the rain! The Club also invested in new more modern club shirts.

During the winter months, the Committee room was re-organised, and a desk was built for the laptops and printer. The locker room had more lockers than were needed these days, so many were removed and the whole locker room re-organised with a new central seating bench added and a cupboard built in the corner for the cleaning equipment and materials. A new equipment trolley was built as the existing one had nearly given up.

Our Patron also donated a new super-duper dishwasher, which has 2 buttons, ‘on and off, you can imagine how well that was received by the Catering Team. Graeme Le Monnier and his family sponsored the cost of re-sign writing the whole Honours Board, which had run out of space so that it will last many more years. The Heart Foundation gave us a Defibrillator and installed it.

Ann Bisson brought our Club History Book up to 40 years of history and one of our sponsors paid for the cost of printing it. Ann Bisson also donated a new Internationals Honours Board now that she had found all the international winners as part of this project.

Before the 2020 season started, the COVID-19 pandemic struck the world and even Jersey was not exempted. The National and International games were all immediately cancelled. We could not open the club until June and then only with great care and lots of sanitising. Trevor Gould made lots of masks for use by members. Committee Meetings went on to Zoom and everyone kept their distance. However, we did run some friendly knockouts and leagues later in the season to give us all some competitive bowling. Paul du Feu became our COVID restrictions expert! We also applied for received a COVID Recovery Grant by Jersey Sport of £2,900, which helped with finances when we could not raise money in the normal way.

After many problems with hedge maintenance over the years, the States decided to replace and pay for fencing to be erected on 2 sides of the green, and then later agreed to install a further side (where the bungalow is) in early 2022. This project included our decision to lift 2 lines of slabs from the car park side to increase the parking area and re-lay them on the walkway to the clubhouse, thereby widening that as well. With some extra free slab stones from the Fort d’ Auvergne Hotel redevelopment, this work was fully completed just before the re-opening mentioned below.

At the beginning of 2021, the Club was granted charitable status. This was a game-changer for us. It meant that financial donations to the club by an individual attracted a 25% Income Tax refund and we could reclaim all GST paid. It was also possible to access funds from Charity Givers.

Your President, Brain Bisson, had already raised the risk to the Club’s future of the never-ending increases in rent being charged by the States. Our Patron, Stuart, decided to offer a huge donation of £105,000, which together with the Income Tax refund thereon gave us £131,625 to replace the grass green with an artificial surface if the members agreed. Their approval was obtained in July and work started in late September. By late October, we had a spanking new green. The green was then re-opened to members and Stuart put down the first bowl. A plaque was erected officially naming it “The Weaving Green”. Particular credit must go to John Le Goff and Graeme Le Monnier. John sourced all the materials and plant locally for the contractors so we could reclaim the GST on the local supplies, and he ensured that plant was not on-site one day longer than it needed to be. He, Fred Jeanne, and other members assisted with some of the donkey work to help the contractors. Graeme used his skills with drainage, and we were able to connect to the existing drains rather than create a completely new set of drains. He also prepared the planning application. With these interventions, the project came in under budget, which with prices rising rapidly as a result of the pandemic is nothing short of a miracle.

The completion of the work resulted in an addendum to the existing lease being negotiated and signed, which decreased our rent by 87% but we will now have to look after our new green and its surroundings ourselves, therefore we will be starting a Sinking Fund to build up sufficient funds to replace the green in 10-12 years’ time.

We applied for another COVID Recovery and Re-Invent Grant from Jersey Sport in 2021 and were granted an additional £3,500.

Spring 2021 saw us back on the green from the beginning of the season and the Nationals and Inter-Club Leagues were run but little else off-island. We ran a full season of knockouts, leagues, and socials, so life got a bit more back to some normality. Even Deloitte came back for what turned out to be 2 Corporate Events as so many of their staff wanted a bit of fun and they really enjoy their bowling.

The Club’s Ladies Team won the Le Claire Trophy for the first time since 2013. The de Gruchy team missed the top spot by 1 point and the Morel team, after a nail-biting last match when they won all three games against the Sun, finished joint first with them on points but lost out on shot difference.

Next, as we decided we needed to re-cover and insulate the roof as we are now responsible for its maintenance and tiles fly off every time we have a gale, so Paul du Feu prepared an application to The Jersey Community Foundation for financial assistance and in November, we were granted £28,396 to meet the cost. The work is due to start in early 2022.

2021 turned out to be a very remarkable year for the Club.

Throughout the period from 2013 to date, the planning for each project has been done by John le Goff and the building work for them all has been carried out by him with a huge amount of help from his trusted assistant Fred Jeanne and many more hours of help from other members’ including Richard Allo, David Gallichan, Dave Black, Graeme le Monnier, John Murphy and your President particularly.

Richard Allo was also our slab laying specialist and is our garden designer of many years standing (they are always beautiful).

David Gallichan has also painted the whole of the outside of the clubhouse, which the club is required to do on a 3 yearly basis.

Our members owe them all a real debt of gratitude for giving up so much of their time and expertise to work at the Club with a smile on their faces and some banter!!!

The next project on the agenda is to add an extension to the clubhouse which will become the Committee Room and Committee storage area and to build a small shed to house the 2 BBQs as they have lost their place to the green hoover and cleaning equipment!!. While the diggers were on site for the green project, the base was dug out, concrete laid and sleepers were installed around the edges ready for the chalet which will be built on site. Graeme has obtained the planning permission for this build and he will now apply for Building Control permission. We hope that work will start in Spring 2022.