from William A. Dansie’s Account
SELBORNE GOLDEN JUBILEE 1962
Under the leadership of President “Curly” Tollis and Secretary “Tank” Iddins a successful year was assured. A commemorative badge was struck and on leaving Southgate to live in Lincolnshire the late Harry Plumb donated a handsome trophy to be presented to the annual Club Champion. Games were held with the English Bowling Association, Middlesex County Bowling Association and London & Southern Counties Bowling Association. Eric Crosbie was appointed Acting Secretary to the L & S C B A and Club member Reg Pedlar was selected to play for the Middlesex Bowling Association. In 1962 the first Selborne Ancient and Modern match was played and followed by a steak and kidney supper. This fixture has remained popular to the present day 1999 and both sides compete for cups donated by the late Iris Tyrie.
A QUESTION OF MONEY
The seven or eight playing seasons following the 1962 Golden Jubilee were very pleasing but under constant financial pressure as the following annual cash balances indicate. 1962 – £124, 1963 – £220, 1964 – £212, 1965 – £211, 1966 – £350. Subscriptions barely paid the rent and there was a strong feeling that an increase would be counter productive through loss of membership.
Through lack of support the Annual Dinner usually turned in a loss which in one year led to the following economies:
Meal cost not to exceed meal charge of previous year even if this caused a reduction in quality. Club guests from Bowling Associations limited to two. One hired artiste instead of two. Flowers to top table only.
Raising money had its problems because the Club House Bar was manned by Cherry Tree staff and profit was retained by the Pub. Apart from special bookings the Clubhouse was not available to Selborne members during the winter months. It could be hired for £2 per session. When these difficulties were discussed with the Landlord he kindly reduced the rent by £100 for one year subject to review. In those days the Landlord was Nicholsons (London) Catering Co. Trading as tenant of the Cherry Tree owned by Allied Breweries(UK) Limited.
WIND OF CHANGE
In October 1970 Nicholsons gave notice that the Club lease would be terminated in September 1971 and renewed only if, among other things, the Club agreed to pay the wage of the Greenkeeper Ben Freer and pay all the costs of Green maintenance; Nicholsons to withdraw catering service and the Club to operate in a much reduced size of Clubhouse. As an alternative Nicholsons suggested that the Club should vacate the Cherry Tree premises and build a self contained pavilion on the North side of the Green. Members saw much merit in this proposal and awaited with interest further developments.
In November 1970 Nicholson announced that any new lease would be limited to a duration of six years. This destroyed the pavilion concept because money grants were not available on a lease of six years. This forced the Club into consideration of the Nicholsons demands which were out of financial reach, but fifteen months later a new Agreement was signed. The major terms were: the Club to pay the wages of Greenkeeper Ben Freer, the Club to absorb all maintenance costs of the Green and surrounds, catering service by Nicholsons to be withdrawn, Club to manage the Bar and retain profits, Clubhouse to be reduced in size to about 450 sq. ft, duration of Agreement six years, Annual rent £450.
With regard to the catering service, it was necessary for the Club to provide an equipped kitchen. It was also decided that in 1973 lady bowlers would be admitted to the Club and they would require a locker room and toilet accommodation. In terms of space this could be achieved only by building, at Club expense, a Gents Changing Room on the North side of the Green.
The cash flow to meet these programmes was generated by increasing the annual subscription to £9 p.a., massaging the Catering and Bar services to yield a profit, increasing the number of profitable Social programmes within the Clubhouse now available throughout the year, inviting members to make a donation or loan to the Club. Loans to be interest free and repayable over three or six years. The target of £1000 was exceeded.
Nicholsons kindly donated £300 towards cost of building the Gents Changing Room which was in the order of £700. Eric Crosbie summed up the situation at the 1972 AGM when he said, “We have the opportunity, albeit at some cost, of becoming more secure than we have ever been and achieving the full status of a private club. This opportunity of working for our own benefit is something we have always sought but has been denied us generally since the Club was formed”.
LEGAL ADVICE! There was a need to appoint in the Club a third Trustee and Eric Crosbie asked a Barrister friend for his advice on the responsibilities of Trustees. The Barrister dealt with this request and also advised that persons regarded as unfit for office include lunatics, convicts, persons frequently abroad, bankrupt persons, dishonest individuals, infants and quarrelsome fellows.
MONEY WELL SPENT When Stan East-died he left £1000 to the Club. A machine for washing bar glasses was purchased and Ernie Lower plumbed it in.
A SAD LOSS To cope with the reduced size of the Clubhouse, the billiard table was sold for £31 in 1971.
A REMARKABLE SERVANT TO THE CLUB
In November 1970 Eric Crosbie accepted the appointment of Club Patron, an office he served with distinction until his death in 1996.
NOW YOU KNOW
In the beginning of Eric Crosbie’s history of the Selborne Bowling Club, he records that he researched without success the origins of the name Selborne. He discovered that the parish of Selborne lies in the extreme Eastern corner of Hampshire renowned for Gilbert White’s “The Natural History of Selborne”, but GW did not reveal the meaning or origin of the name Selborne. In December 1998 Life Member, Tom Chalk, in a letter to Secretary Bert Hibbitt, records “why” the Club was called Selborne. When the Club opened in 1912 the Mall did not exist and the Club took its name from the first turning past the Cherry Tree.
1973, ten lady bowlers made their first appearance on the Green and Frank Nevill instructed them in the basics of bowling. The top limit of Lady Playing Membership was set at twenty, but this total was soon oversubscribed and today (January 2000) it stands at 45. The top limit for male players is set at 90 which, with the ladies, gives a combined total of 135 which some say should be the maximum for a six rink Green. The admission of ladies brought to the Club a willingness tokeep clean and tidy, on a regular basis, the kitchen and ladies’ quarters.
In addition, their contribution to the catering need of the Club was admired by Members and visitors.
In December 1998 Club Members Len Felix and Bill Gorst made the following proposals: (a) That Lady Playing Members be entitled to vote at Annual General Meetings and Special General Meetings. (b) That the Ladies’ Secretary and Ladies’ Captain be full members of the Executive Committee. (c) That the offices of Club Secretary, Club Captain and Vice-Captain be occupied by Gentlemen Playing Members and, if more than one nomination are proposed, only Gentlemen Playing Members may vote; and similarly the offices of Ladies’ Secretary and Ladies’ Captain be occupied by Lady Playing Members and only Lady Playing Members may vote in the event of more than one nomination. All other offices and the three other Playing Members of the Executive Committee be open to nomination of, and if necessary voting by, any Playing Members. (d) That the subscriptions of all Playing Members be equalised.
These proposals were debated by Club Members and accepted.
THE BELL TOLLS
The much respected Greenkeeper, Ben Freer, died on 2 March 1976. He was succeeded by part-time Greenkeeper, HenryReynolds, reporting to Club member Chris Robinson serving as Greenranger on the Executive Committee. The terms of employment for Henry Reynolds were: 1. 3 hours in the mornings of Monday to Friday (inclusive)of each week. 2. Prepare, treat, and cut the Green three times per week. Maintenance of gardens and surrounds were expressly excluded from the contract. 3. A wage payment of £67.50 per month, plus Green Fees of say £50 per annum, plus gratuity of say £50. In August 1980 Henry gave notice that on September 30 1980 he would terminate employment with the Club. Reason being age (74) and difficulty in coping with the heavier work. Henry’s wage at this time had risen to £115 per month plus extras for a wider range of duties and increased hours of work.
THE GREEN GANG
The departure of Henry marked the beginning of a slow but significant change to the maintenance of the Green, banks, surrounding paths, flower beds, sheds and other rented buildings. Henry was not replaced as a paid Greenkeeper and a mounting number of his duties, apart from cutting the Green, were carried out by Club members collectively known as the Green Gang. Founder Members of this gang were Harry Hawkings, Ron Sharp, Ben Abley, Norman Tripp and the late Geoff Loach called Green-Ranger. The title Greenkeeper was discontinued. Of these Founder Members four of the five are still serving in year 2000. Geoff Loach retired as Green-Ranger 1981 and was replaced by Norman Tripp who is retiring as Green-Ranger in December 1999, being replaced by David Beer. Initially Green cutting, spraying and fertilising were put out to Contract, but by 1984 all these duties were carried out by the Green Gang. Technical advice on Green maintenance was is obtained from the Sports Turf Research Institute. This Institute examins the Green annually takes core samples for analysis and issues a report giving recommended action to be taken. The annual Autumn restoration of the Green such as deep tining requiring heavy machinery is put out to contract. The preserved and beautifully dressed Selborne owe a great deal to the willingness and achievement of the Green Gang which has saved the Club thousands of pounds. Estimated labour costs if maintenance in 1991 had been put out to contract read as follows:>
(a) January – September Spraying f252, Tining £l,800, cutting £938, fertilising £50, Scarifying £105.
(b) Autumn Renovation Scarifying £70, Hollow Tining £250,* clearing tines £120, Top dressing distribution £220, Seeding £10.
(c) Special One Off Preparation of ditches for installation of Automatic Watering System E3000.
Total Cost – (a) £3 151 + (b) £670 + (c) £3000 = £6,821.
* Hollow Tining was put out to contract in subsequent years.
In addition to the Founder Members of the Green Gang recorded earlier the following Club members were regular helpers: Bob Rouse, Keith Vernon, Len Pugh, Hector MacDonald, Ernie Lower, Frank Morcom, Dan Chapman, Les Cooper, Jim Ritchie, Ron Thompson and Bill Clarke. Some are still serving. Their leader Norman Tripp was deservedly awarded Life Membership.
In a minor role your Scribe has for some years served tea and coffee to the Green Gang on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, and it is said that without trying he can make both taste the same. During the 80’s the Gang reconstructed the Green ditches by facing the Banks with timber dressed with fungrass. Patio tiles were fitted to the bottom of the ditches and these were covered with one cwt of new corks. Over the years the Club has acquired the following items: Zephyr 20″ mower, Certes 18″ mower, Sisis auto rotorake, Rotary mower, Auto greenman, Wheelbarrows, back sprinklers, spades, forks, shears.,, rakes, bowsaw, hoes, lute,drag broom, spreader, walk-over sprayer, heavy roller, edging tool. In the 80’s and early 90’s the following major works were put out to contract. Lifting and levelling; of the Green over six rinks; new changing room for Ladies, reconstruction of the kitchen and installation of the Toro Automatic Irrigation System.
Nicholsons terminated their contract with Allied Breweries in June 1977 when Ind-Coope on behalf of Allied informed the Club that renewal of the Licence would require an annual payment of £l,750. Over a period of some months Eric Crosbie (Patron) and Geoff Loach (Secretary) negotiated with Ind Coope and secured a Licence fee of £1200 p.a. This Licence held out until 1982 when the annual rent was increased to E1700. In 1997 Allied Domecq owners of the Cherry Tree, closed the Main Hall, Saddle Room and supporting offices and converted these into a Waccy Warehouse for young children. This major conversion triggered a detailed examination of the buildings occupied by the Club and the terms of the Lease.
Five major issues were established and in brief these were:
1. Repair to roof area over all buildings occupied by Selborne. Domecq accepted the bill for £2514.
2. Domecq could not be persuaded to accept the cost of re-wiring the Selborne.buildings and started to dismantle the fuse and metering controls housed in the Main Hall of the Cherry Tree. Loss of electricity supply would have seriously damaged the Club so the Executive Committee accepted a quotation of £2000 to rewire all Club buildings.
3. For more years than anyone can remember the Club drew from the Cherry Tree free hot water for the Bar, Kitchen and Toilets. This supply ended when the Waccy Development dismantled and re-routed the hot water system within the Cherry Tree. This problem was resolved when the Club purchased for £900 a hot water tank.
4. Up to the 12 September 1997 the Club operated under a Licence terminal by either side on 3 months notice given at any time. With effect from 12.9.97 we shall operate under a 10 year lease to be determined by either side after 5 years. If changes do not arise from this review the lease would continue for another 5 years. Prior to 12.9.97 we paid an annual rent of £1700 plus VAT. This has now been’increased to £2500 per annum plus VAT with review after every 3 years.
5. The Licence for Bar operation within the Club has always rested with the Cherry Tree, but agreement has been reached that with effect from 1998 the Bar will operate under a “Club Registration Certificate” giving the Club legal independence.
The tenacity and drive of Secretary Bert Hibbitt, Treasurer Eric Pelling and Legal Advisor Frank O’Hanlon, steered the Club through another critical period and established for it a level of security-hitherto unknown.
WELL DID YOU EVER
When the players of one day cricket were instructed to abandon the timeless all white clothing and cavort around Lords in multicoloured track suits, I was comforted to know that the Bowling standard of white above the waist and sometimes below it is as sacred and durable as the Pyramids. But suddenly in the 80’s a cloud no bigger than a pair of white shoes darkened my day. The saving grace is that the wearing of white shoes is not yet compulsory.
But more is to follow. In 2000 or 2001 it will be permissable to play with coloured bowls. Initially, colour will probably be limited to Singles and to avoid playing with the same colour as your opponent it will be desirable to buy two different sets of colours. The use of colour is not likely to improve your game, but the manufacturers of bowls will be laughing all the way to the Bank and, if perchance, you cannot fit eight bowls into a standard locker have a word with your Secretary.
A DIFFERENT JUBILEE
Connie Milan recalls that the Queen’s jubilee took place on a day in July 1997 and the ladies of Selborne B.C. dressed up in red, white and blue. There was much singing, drinking of champagne and just a little bowling. Connie also warmly recalls that 1977 was Fred Milan’s year of Club Presidency. –
A PATRON’S LIFE
In a letter to a member Eric Crosbie said “For my part it has been a pleasure to take-an ACTIVE part in the negotiations and subsequent work. When I was honoured with the Office of Patron I built up a mental picture of an elderly gentleman of long standing with the Club who, by reason of his Office, would be able to sit back, be offered cups of tea and the occasional drink in keeping with his position. In practice I can’t remember working harder for Selborne in my 37 years of membership. – But in all sincerety this has been a labour of love and I desire nothing more than to see this Club secure and happy for many years to come.”