A Brief History of the Club

The following account of the opening of our green on 12 July 1901 appeared in the 17 July 1901 edition of the Torquay and South Devon Journal:

“St Marychurch had not long been part of the borough of Torquay before the Town Council, desiring to do to that part of the town what it had done for the Princess Gardens, decided to provide in the Cary Park a bowling green and lawn tennis courts. The green, which is situated at the All Saints end of the park, measures 47 yards long by 22 yards wide, so that it is possible for three rinks to be played at the same time.. It is undoubtedly an excellent and beautifully situated green, with which the bowlers who have already played on it express their unbounded satisfaction. The work of construction was executed by Messrs. Browning (foreman) and Howe, under the direction of Mr H A Garrett (Borough Surveyor), who, as usual, has done his work in the best style.

Appropriately, the green was formally opened on Wednesday evening by Colonel Cary, brother of Mr R S S Cary, whose gift to St Marychurch and Babbacombe the park was. The surroundings of the green were prettily decorated with flags, and a large number of persons, many being ladies in charming summer attire, attended the proceedings. Mrs Cary accompanied her husband and there were present among others – space does not permit including the 41 names.

The Mayor had pleasure in asking Colonel Cary to kindly declare the bowling green and the adjacent tennis courts open. The Corporation had laid out the green and courts, which they would admit reflected great credit upon the Borough Surveyor, especially when they considered with what a spell of dry weather he had had to contend. (Hear, hear.) He felt sure that the bowling green and the tennis courts would be a great attraction to St Marychurch. It was the desire of the Corporation not to confine the recreation of the borough to any particular part, but, as far as was possible, to treat all parts alike. (Applause.) In providing recreation in that park, the Town Council was doing something in the direction of completing what Colonel Cary’s late brother had in view when he presented the beautiful park to the St Marychurch District Council. (Hear, hear.) He felt sure that the bowling green and the tennis courts would prove a great attraction to both residents and visitors and he had consequently much pleasure in asking Colonel Cary to declare them open. (Applause.)

Colonel Cary had much pleasure in complying with the Mayor’ s request. He was sure that when his late brother gave the land for the park for the benefit of residents and visitors he had their recreation and enjoyment in view. He hoped and believed that the new bowling green and tennis courts would add to the amusement and pleasure of both residents and visitors. Those responsible for the laying of the green deserved the greatest possible credit, for it looked perfect. (Hear, hear.) The work had been done in a very short time, and yet the turf looked as if it was years old. He had much pleasure in declaring the bowling green and tennis courts open. (Applause.)

Colonel Cary followed his words by action – by casting the ‘jack’ and bowling the first bowl to it. Scratch teams subsequently played upon the green.”

At a subsequent meeting in St Marychurch Town Hall a few weeks later with Colonel Cary presiding , it was resolved to form a club, to be called the St Marychurch and Babbacombe Bowling Club, with the rules of the Torquay Club slightly amended. It was decided that members should be admitted at general and committee meetings, upon approval by a majority of two-thirds of the members present. The subscription will be 5s. per annum. Colonel Carey was elected President and Colonel Hole, Colonel Spragge, Captain Lowe and Mr C J Paul were elected Vice-Presidents. Mr W H Grant was the first secretary, Mr W D Bowden the first treasurer and Mr J O Dannell the first captain of the club.

On 24 July 1907, the Club welcomed the recently formed Plymouth (Sir Francis Drake) Bowling Club to its first away match. The Plymouth team travelled on the 12.32 pm train to Torquay at the cost of 2/6 pence, arriving at 2 pm, where they were conveyed to Babbacombe for a fee of 1 shilling. Unfortunately, heavy rain caused the match to be abandoned after a few ends. The two Clubs have continued to play one another at Babbacombe and Plymouth on a regular basis ever since that first fixture.

Opening the green 1928

A New Season begins – circa 1928

The Club was a founder member of Devon Bowling Association when the County Association was formed on 31 October 1908.

The Club changed its name to Cary Park Bowling Club sometime between 1925 and 1931. In 1948 a few members split from the club to form what was known as Babbacombe Bowling Club so that, for several years, two clubs played on the green. Cary Park Bowling Club and Babbacombe Bowling Club amalgamated in 1963 under the name of Babbacombe & Cary Park Bowling Club and adopted the Cary Park “Bee on the jack” lapel badge as its lapel badge. The Babbacombe lapel badge was oval in shape and depicted Babbacombe from the shoreline off the Babbacombe beach area. The name of the Club was shortened to its present name in 1971. The Ladies Section was formed in 1970.

In the early 1970s the Club joined the Mid-Devon Bowling League (MDL); having previously played in the Torquay League and then in the Torbay & District League.

Two members of the Club have served as MDL President – Michael Glanville (1986) and Deryck Botterill (2004). The Ladies Section joined the Print Plus Ladies Bowling League on its inception in 1988. In 2009 the Print Plus League was renamed the Gallery League on change of Sponsors. In 2014 season, a further change of sponsors saw the Gallery League renamed as the South Devon Ladies League (SDLL)

We do not know when the green was extended from its original three rinks to six rinks but it was sometime between 1928 and 1938.

The grass green was replaced with a man-made fibre green in June 1986 and was opened by the Mayor of Torbay, Councillor James Mason, on 1 July 1986. At the time, it was said to be the only green in the world with a sand based artificial surface. The green reverted to grass in 1996.

Opening of the Man-made Fibre Green - 1 July 1986

Opening of the Man-made Fibre Green – 1 July 1986

Opening the new grass green - 1996

The Mayor of Torbay, Counsellor Mrs Ann Williams, opens the new grass green – 20 April 1996

In 2001, the Club celebrated its centenary with matches against Devon County Bowling Association and Devon Ladies County Bowling Association and a tour, based on Bournemouth, which included a match against the Royal Household Bowling Club on its green at Frogmore in the grounds of Windsor Castle.

MDL a team 2001

Our ‘A’ Team gains promotion to the MDL Premier Division in our Centenary Year

The green and clubhouse are held on a lease for 21 years from 1 April 2002 from Torbay Council. A bar was opened in the clubhouse at the beginning of the 2003 season. In March 2005, the Club took over the maintenance of the green from the previous contractors.

After the close of the 2005 season, work began on extending and reordering the Clubhouse. New changing rooms were built, the former men’s changing room was converted into a kitchen and the previous kitchen and the previous ladies’ changing room were incorporated into the main room. The extended clubhouse was officially opened by Past President Mrs Joan Tribe on 22 April 2006. The work was carried out with financial assistance from the English Bowling Association. In the Winter of 2008/9 further improvements to the Clubhouse were carried out by the addition of an extension containing new Ladies Toilets, new Gents Toilets, and a Storeroom.

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