During 1987/88 the Village Hall facilities were in a poor state and a decision had to be made about improvements or closing the hall. The results of a questionnaire and village meetings showed that there was a willingness to fund raise to modernise so the hall could be used for a variety of activities. The weekly Keep Fit group and monthly coffee mornings were started and following a demonstration by Ousden Bowls Club enough interest was shown to start a club in Hargrave. Equipment was bought with the aid of a grant and a Committee formed, meeting for the first time on 17th August 1988. Subscriptions were set at £5 a year plus 50p a week for the Tuesday evening meetings.
By February 1989 there were 29 members and the Club joined the Suffolk Carpet Bowls Association enabling us to play in the Bury League and take part in Championship matches. Green sweaters with the club name were bought for members who wanted to join the team, and then a second carpet was purchased – with four games to play matches were going on late into the evening with only one carpet!
Though numbers dropped to about 15/16 we continued to compete with varying degrees of success – in 1999 we came top of the league and were promoted to the Premier League, only to be relegated in 2000. This happened again in 2003, being relegated in 2004 by one point. 2005 saw us again promoted, this time managing to stay up for two years and also winning the Victor Trophy at the Bury League Finals Day. In addition to league matches, some members took part in weekend charity days, with some success, and I am sure still have their cups and trophies to prove it!
With Tuesday evenings taken up with league matches, several members started to meet on Monday afternoons and by 2008 about 15 members were meeting regularly for friendly games and this still continues, though with numbers now down to eight or nine.
The pattern of promotion and relegation continued until following promotion in 2016 we continued in the Premier League until lockdown forced suspension of the league matches.
Unfortunately no decision has yet been made about restarting the Bury League and as numbers have dropped it may not be viable to restart Tuesday evenings, but we are hopeful that if the league should continue new rules may allow us to play with smaller teams. Until then we will continue with our very enjoyable Monday afternoons and would welcome anyone who would like to give carpet bowls a try.
Come along and give it a try, you might like it.
You may help keep this great local sport going in Hargrave.