The history of the West Sussex Touring Bowls Club

In early 1955 a group of bowlers got together and arranged a bowls tour.

A list of the tour  venues, presidents and hon. secretary
A list of the tour venues, presidents and hon. secretary

Under the directorship of Chairman/Captain A. G. Smart of the Tithe Green BC and Secretary C. J. Uncles from Worthing Pavilion BC, they left Worthing Central Railway Station on 15th May 1955 by coach and headed for the Royal Hotel, Weymouth.

The next day Greenhill BC in Weymouth played host to the clubs first tour match - against Weymouth and District.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

SEE ALSO Sussex college appoints Wales rugby stalwart and top Hong Kong official | Glorious Goodwood: Bosses give verdict on chances of festival going ahead | Sussex cricket won't return before July - and rest of season is under close reviewOn this first tour they travelled under the name of ‘The West Sussex Tourists’ and so successful was the week that it was decided to put the tour on an official footing and accordingly a meeting was called for 21st July 1955. Mr. Artlett of the Maltravers club was elected President and a name of the Sussex Martlets Bowls Touring Club was agreed.

By November 1955 the club name had been changed to it’s current title of the West Sussex Bowls Touring Club, Sussex County BA having objected to any club prefixing it’s name with the word Sussex.

Up to and including 2019 the club have toured every year since formation and a total of 336 members have enjoyed bowling with the club on their annual jaunts. A remarkable 18 members have each toured on 20 or more occasions. Our 2019 tour saw club secretary Chris Rolph create a new touring record having travelled 36 times.

The previous record holder Ken Armstrong went on 35 tours before he passed away in May 2014. Steve Hawkes and Cecil Wadey have each toured on 32 occasions. Graham Allen, Alan Catterson and Harry Gosnell have been on 25.

Geoff Armstrong, Roger Ayling, Ron Hyam, Cecil Salisbury and Charles Walkden 23, Wally Edwards and Ted Lane 22 Bill Bryder, David Dallyn, Joe Gilpin and Kevin Mitchell having achieved 21.

This proud record of touring every May since 1955 has with the current coronavirus Pandemic come to an abrupt halt. This years tour (due to leave on the 9th May) was a return to Exmouth where the club have enjoyed a number of happy trips.

The club is known for it’s wonderful camaraderie and is welcomed to the greens of clubs all over southern England whilst away on tour.

Besides the tour in May members stay in touch during the year usually playing 7/8 outdoor friendlies and half a dozen indoor games against local Sussex clubs and hold an annual dinner at Worthing Indoor Bowls Club.

In spite of the strange circumstances we are currently living in the club is in a strong position to continue for many years in the future.

There has been a waiting list to join the club each year since 1987 and often the tour is oversubscribed and has reserves waiting to go at short notice.

Next year plans are in place for the club to travel to Paignton and arrangements are currently being made for this years aborted Exmouth trip to take place on 2022.