On May 30 2019 Shepton Mallet Bowls Club will celebrate its centenary. In the Hare and Hounds pub in Shepton Mallet in 1919, a group of gentlemen got together to form a club that in its early days consisted of three sections – bowls, tennis and croquet.
The committee approached the council asking for a site in Collett Park. Permission was granted and, although there is mention of some cutting and rolling operations, it does not appear as if a wood was ever bowled there.
But in December of that year the club approached Mr Mitchell, who rented a piece of land from the Duchy of Cornwall, with the view to preparing the ground for playing bowls, tennis and croquet. The club has occupied this site ever since.
Mr Lintern told members he had bought an ex-Army hut for £32 10s. He was willing to sell this to the club but it needed to be transported from Salisbury Plain, put up and furnished. This would come to about £140. The money was borrowed from a lady at six per cent interest and the hut became known as the Pavilion and remains in use to this day.
At first, the idea of laying out tennis courts was postponed because of the high cost and a croquet lawn was prepared instead.
However, by April 1921 there were facilities for playing all three games. In that year the Shepton Mallet Bowls, Tennis and Croquet Club was formed.
In 1925 the bowls section was affiliated to the County Bowling Association. The minutes at the time show that a proposal for a bar to be installed in the pavilion for the sale of intoxicating liquor was turned down.
King George V's silver jubilee year of 1935 saw a bar had been installed in the pavilion, and members were able to drink to their majesties' health with something a stronger than tea.
War was declared in September 1939 but, although the minute books reflect this in a number of entries, it was bowling, tennis and croquet as usual.
Soldiers stationed in the town could bowl for 1s a day and businessmen evacuated from London would not have to pay the full subscription because once the war was "over by Christmas" they would be returning home.
The military authorities asked if they could billet 16 men in the pavilion, a home from home. The club gave permission but the soldiers caused quite an amount of damage and eventually a cheque arrived from the war office for £4 4s by way of compensation.
Many of the young men in the tennis section were called up for war service and membership of the section declined.
In a burst of patriotic fervour, part of the courts were dug up for food production. The war ended in 1945 and the dug-up tennis courts were re-laid.
In 1959 the club's metal badge was created with the town's market cross as its central motif.
The year of the drought - 1976 - saw many of the older bowlers recalling similar conditions back in the 1920s. The green suffered badly, with matches and competitions having to be abandoned.
At the 1978 annual meeting the tennis section was asked to pay half the rents and rates. Around this time the two sections temporarily parted company and the two sections ran independently. However the Shepton Bowls and Fastracket have now joined forces again under a single Club smbtc - the full range of activities can be seen at http://www.smbtc.org.uk
These past years have been good ones for the club. The standard of play in both women's and men's sections is very high and improving all the time. The financial state of the club is healthy and the green is in excellent condition. But perhaps the greatest compliment Shepton Mallet Bowls Club receives from visiting clubs is that it is a friendly, welcoming club.