And in the beginning…
At the Hellingly Sports Club AGM in 1961, the matter of establishing a Bowls Green on the recreation ground was raised and agreed for a public meeting to be called. Invites were made to representatives of Cross-in-Hand, Herstmonceux and Horam who already had established Bowling Greens for their advise and guidance.
Unfortunately, this was not a great success as only 10 people attended, most of them committee members, however, those that attended approved the idea.
The proposition continued to be debated in committee mainly concentrating on a suitable site. The planned position had always been opposite the White Hart Public House, but the available space proved too small and would impinge on the Hockey pitch. The preferred area was where the Bowling Green is now situated, but there were difficulties, due to smells from an open sewer running along that side of the recreation ground. That meant the whole area required considerable work and expense.
At the 1963 AGM it was stated levelling was necessary, and land drains would have to be laid, and the whole area completely weed killed before seeding could take place. It was hoped that seeding could take place in the autumn of 1964. In the summer of 1964 the groundsman, Mr Norman Bridges, complained of the still weed strewn state of the scheduled area and proposition was carried to lay a hard tennis court instead. Estimates were obtained for £850 for a tennis court and £2,850 for a Bowling Green but nothing more happened to either project until 1968.
Mr Bert Ellis had done a lot of work on his own initiative in clearing weeds in the area and he was granted £200 to take charge of the project and asked that another public meeting be called to try and raise helpers. This time 19 attended who were all keen to get something started and a Bowling Section was formed in May 1968. Mr Jim Elliott was at the fore in the construction work and reported in early 1969 that drains had been laid and site levelling was proceeding. Extra top soil was provided by Mr John Clarke from Hellingly School where he was building a swimming pool and Mr Don Martin provided the transportation.
Work continued preparing the area, and it was finally seeded in 1970 with hope that limited games could be played 1971. It was necessary to have a suitable building to use as a pavilion and Mr Chris Humpries who worked for Norman Sutton, a local builder, offered to do this work for the cost of materials only, while Norman loaned his equipment free of charge. The final cost to the club was £845.
The green was officially opened by Wing Commander Peake the Chairman of the Parish Council on the 13th May 1972. From these rudimentary beginnings the fine present day facility has grown.
The video below shows construction work being carried-out in 1998 on the changing Rooms and canopy area.