On private land behind the houses in Furzegood, Marldon has a bowls club.
The Club was founded in 1987 by around 20 dedicated villagers who wanted a bowls club.
There was no bowls green in Marldon at that time so the founder members used to organise events to be played at the greens of other local clubs, but the objective was to get a green of their own in Marldon.
Little did they know how hard that would be.
The requirement was a flat piece of land large enough for a bowls green with room alongside for changing rooms and a clubhouse, and it needed to be within the village. The club at this time had no money of its own and busied itself fund raising to buy the land they needed. In 1991 they applied to the parish council for some land on Tor Field and a public meeting was called to discuss this at which over 140 villagers turned up. However the village had other plans for the site and the request was turned down. Others requested the same space for tennis courts and these requests were also refused. The bowls club continued to look for the land and continued playing bowls matches elsewhere and fund raising.
Bits of land occasionally came up in the village but the club couldn’t use them because they didn’t have enough finance or there were planning problems. All the while they were having to travel away to get a match. Just as it looked as if the club was going to lose its most hard fought battle, it finally got the rub of the green in 1993, when it was awarded a £64,000 grant from the Sports and Arts Foundation, something the committee had been quietly plugging away for. And the club had by now raised £16,000 itself, by holding jumble sales and raffles.
The members were very pleased when, at about this time, a piece of land in the village jointly owned by villagers Margaret English, Norman English and Margaret Pearse, became available. It was not very flat, but at least it was a good size to accommodate a green, clubhouse, toilet and changing facilities and a car park, the latter being a rare luxury for local bowling clubs.
The hard work now began to flatten the site and lay a green, build a clubhouse and all the other required facilities and once again it was the members themselves who set to work in all weathers to construct a green on an empty and uneven field. The membership by this time was getting slightly larger which was just as well as there was lots of work to do.
Heavy machinery was drafted in to do the major levelling and drainage work required to lay a bowls green. The site was prepared and the green was marked out. Meanwhile fencing was erected around the perimeter and work was started on a clubhouse and changing facilities.
As this work was going on, it was suggested that to protect members financially, the club should become a limited company and in June1994 Barry Keenor and Dennis Mountford became the directors of Marldon (Maple Leaf) Bowls Club. The “Maple leaf” was in recognition of financial donations received from a local Canadian businessman.
In April 1995 the grass had grown and matured enough to be used for bowls and the green was officially opened in that month by Councillor Pennington. A transcript of the Herald Express report of the opening can be found here.
and there are pictures of the green being built on our website at:
As the club was founded in 1987, but until 1995 when our own green was ready, all matches were played away, the long-standing joke we tell touring sides is that we were once unbeaten at home for 8 years!!!!
The club now has around 80 bowling members and more that 20 social members, who use the other facilities.
The club is affiliated to Bowls England and Bowls Devon. Our men normally play in the Mid Devon League, and the Over 55’s Triples League and our ladies in the South Devon Ladies Bowling League. We also normally enter two teams in the Riviera Mixed Triples League. Our club colours are green and gold, both the men and ladies play in green and white coloured shirts for Club representative games.
We also play many friendly games against local clubs and welcome Touring teams from all around UK, who visit the area for Bowls Holidays.
We have for many years now been holding an annual ‘Marldon Fours’ Tournament which is an invitational tournament to which most clubs in the area are invited to send teams. It is usually (weather permitting) a very successful event played in August each year with cash prizes and a trophy for the winning rink.
We have a web site at www.marldonbowlsclub.co.uk and have a page on Facebook www.facebook.com/MarldonBC and we are always looking to recruit new members.