Bowls Club History

The following is taken from a leaflet produced by Alf Hazelwood

Early Years

Sutton Bowls Club originated on the front lawn at Woodhall in 1935 with the kind permission of Caption and Mrs. Eric Hervey.

There were about twenty of us to start with and only four had bowled before; Sid Hazell, Head Gardener; Fred Ward, Carpenter; Fred Coates, Head Gamekeeper on the Broxtead Estate; Elijah Ling, Village Bobby.

Then we had to have some bowls so several pairs were ordered priced at one guinea a set and we made a start under the guidance of those four stalwarts. We met on two evenings a week and started to learn the ins and outs of the game, and, as word got around, more people turned up and eventually we had enough to play in rinks of three which is how the game is played. We carried on like this for some time before moving onto the tennis court.

In the meantime the old steel qoit green (behind the present bus shelter) was being prepared for bowls by Bob Harvey and team members. By then we had a quite a useful team and had entered the Woodbridge  League. When we played away games we found that one or two teams had the same problem that we had and it appeared that, if there was a meadow handy, reasonably flat and room for four rinks, that was the Bowls Green which was the case at Bealings. At Bredfield the green was a small meadow near the Carpenters Shop with a dry ditch down one side. Both of these now have excellent greens. Suffolk Seed Stores and the Cherry Tree played on private lawns. On the first one the lawn sloped down to the driveway so, if you took too much green on that side the bowl would roll away down the drive and out into the road if it wasn't caught in time. On the Cherry Tree the problem was the other way about. If one played too heavy the bowl would go down a slope into the woods if you didn't stop it.

We had one really good result on our green in a Cup game. We were drawn against the Woodbridge Sun who had several County players in their team. However we won by four shots which did not go down too well!

We were playing in the Woodbridge League when war broke out and a few of us went into the forces. I'm not sure what happened during the war but I think they kept on playing and won a few trophies. when we came home from the war we rejoined the club.

Post War - a new Green

At a general meeting it was decided that what we would really like was a larger green. We approached the Memorial Hall Committee (Note - click here to see an article on the building of the Hall) on the subject and straight away they offered us an area of the Recreation Ground large enough for a full sized green which was just what we wanted. Then someone suggested that it might be a good idea to use common turf to lay the green so we asked the Broxtead Estate owner if this was possible. He said certainly, get the turf wherever you like and use farm transport to get it to the green.

Fred Coates came up with an idea for cutting the turf. He made a wooden frame exactly twelve inches square and fitted clipper teeth to the outside so that it cut an exact square of turf. Then a start was made to level and prepare the area where the turf was to be laid. Fred took charge of the turf cutting with help while Bob Harvey and others went about the levellling. How long this took I have no idea but the result was an excellent green, probably one of the best in the area.

Bowls green first day

Opening day for the new green, Good Friday 1949


Fred was also instrumental in producing another useful piece of equipment which was a 4ft long handle with a metal cage that fitted over the Jack so anyone marking the game could place the jack where it was required without bending down to pick it up (or kicking it).

Now that the green was larger we natuarally attracted more players. We joined the Ipswich Triples League and where able to produce two teams most of the time. The only thing was, we had to double up now and again to cover sickness or holidays. Both teams won several trophies over the years.

As we got used to the new green several players got to the County Area Finals. Jack Thurling, Cyril Pryke and George Abbott won area finals and played for the County several times.

To add to the pleasure of the new Green we had a nice pavilion with a little kitchen attached. Our latest aquisition was a semi automatic watering system wherby the whole green can be watered in aobut an hour.

We run two tournaments ayear and these have become very popular and they are laways well attended. What we need now is a few younger members to join the club and keep it going for the future.