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The Green on the Hill

Chapter Two

There has to be a Bowling club

November 10th 1958 is a key date in the history of both the tennis and bowling sections of the Hallam Grange club. On that day the directors gathered together at Mr and Mrs Watson's house in Silver Hill Road in Ecclesall to discuss ideas for the future of the club. They unanimously agreed that the objective should be bold - to build on the new land a first class sporting facility, incorporating not only new tennis courts and pavilion, but importantly, a bowling green. Maurice Brewin, the Chair, announced that he was, "greatly encouraged by the lively interest being taken by the inclusion of the bowling facility.” All the proposals would be subject to the necessary agreement of the Council. The Directors realised that they were faced with the big problem on how to raise the considerable sum of money required for such an ambitious development. They decided that no risks would be taken and would proceed cautiously, resisting pleas from some of the more reckless members "to get on with the things". It was not until January 1964 that the Directors were satisfied that enough finance had been raised by a mixture of grants and loans from members to go ahead with the development.

A formal application was made to the Sheffield City Council for planning permission for new tennis courts, a bowling green, pavilion and car park to be built. This was soon obtained, and the Articles of Association for the new club drawn up. A key clause specified that in the unlikely eventuality of the club being dissolved, all its remaining assets would be transferred to another registered community amateur sports club or to the sport's governing body. The directors were adamant that no individual club member should obtain any subsequent benefit from any such eventuality, beyond the repayment of any money previously loaned to the club.

To ensure the development was fully financed, it was decided that a major share should come from the sale of the land which the club still owned in Slayleigh Lane amounting to 7631 square yards that it had originally purchased earlier in 1956. The Directors therefore commissioned the estate agents Henry Spencer to act on their behalf and on 30 June 1962 the land was auctioned and sold by the club to its new owner for the sum of £15,000.

With the assistance of En-tout.Cas, a plan was drawn up for the provision of 4 hard courts, 3 grass courts, a bowling green and a pavilion available for use by all club members. It was estimated that the whole cost of the development would be around some £22, 000. It was agreed that the bowlers would need some form of "Retreat" (the bowlers' term then used for their own pavilion) for their activity but the Directors were wary of the expense involved. A breakthrough came when one enterprising director suggested that a second hand Vic Hallam building (a timber frame prefabricated structure) which at the time was being used locally as a petrol station kiosk would be "eminently suitable for the occasion". At a cost of just £75 the kiosk was duly secured for the use of the bowlers. It would be some 30 years before it was replaced.

Once started, very good progress was made on the construction of the new facilities and they were finished on schedule. The membership fee for both tennis and bowling members was fixed at £5-10 shillings. It was agreed that the official opening of the new facilities should be arranged for Saturday 30 April 1966, and that Mr John Osborn, the MP for Hallam, should be invited to be the chief guest. Osborn was Sheffield born and himself a keen player of both tennis and golf. It was also unanimously agreed that the members' lounge in the new pavilion should be called the "Harrison lounge", and that a suitable plaque should be placed beneath the clock in recognition of Samuel's generous support for the club.

The early part of April had been ominously cold with snow showers and there was some anxiety about the weather for the opening of the club. But fortunately by the end of the month the weather had much improved and the actual opening day dawned bright. Shortly after 3.00pm, Mr Osborn cut the ribbon beside the new tennis courts with a pair of commemorative scissors donated by Mr C A Lockwood, and declared the new club and its facilities officially open.

It was estimated that some 250 people were there for the opening ceremony and most stayed on to enjoy the traditional tea and refreshments. And to mark the end of that historic day, 120 people gathered together in the evening in the new pavilion for a dinner dance lasting until midnight.

Yet, on that day, the bowlers, so eager to start, were denied the pleasure of trying out the new green for themselves. Although it was greening up nicely with the advent of warmer weather, they were told to remain patient. They were going to have to wait a little longer before it was officially declared ready to bowl.

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