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Club History

As UK Bowls Clubs go, Somerton & District Bowls Club is relatively young, being conceived less than forty years ago. The Club owes its origins to the Langport and Somerton Rotary Club whom in 1979 set their project for the year as the provision of a bowling green to serve the surrounding district. To kick start the project, funds were initially raised by hosting a wrestling match at a local school, ironically a sport diametrically opposed to the gentility of bowling. With the support of Somerton District Council and the availability of suitable ancillary facilities, the site chosen to lay the green was at the Sports Field at Gassons Lane.
It was quickly established that having the green constructed and associated facilities installed privately was beyond the means of simple fund raising activities and thanks to the enthusiasm and commitment of a number of persons it was decided to offset many of the costs by the use of voluntary labour. 
Excavation of the site commenced in July 1979, with a number of grants being provided and interest free loans being obtained from members of the constituted Club. 
Contractors were employed to lay the green with the work being completed in 1980. Over the next two years a number of essential matters were attended to these included installation of a water supply, erection of a secure chain link fence around the site, erection of a second-hand cedar-wood pavilion and purchase of a mower. 

Original Cedarwood Pavilion with first Club Captain, Don Milnes in foreground Original Cedarwood Pavilion with first Club Captain, Don Milnes in foreground

In 1983 it was decided that competitive play could commence on the green from June. Prior to that date, the fledgling Club could only play away matches at friendly neighbouring Clubs. At the start facilities were basic and it was quickly established that the need for a larger pavilion was paramount. In 1984 a new building was purchased and installed, being financed by further interest free loans and donations. In these early years the nearest toilet facilities were some 150 yards away at the main Sports Club and the need to create on-site toilets was deemed essential. To this end a matching extension to the pavilion was erected and a sewage system installed, becoming functional in 1985, again with the assistance of members.

First Club team to play a competitive match on the green First Club team to play a competitive match on the green

Subsequent years saw many significant improvements to the Club noteworthy are the installation of changing rooms, the construction of cement block walls around the green, replacing unsatisfactory grass banking, installation of an improved watering system and purchase of ancillary green maintenance equipment. It is also worth pointing out the many improvements to infrastructure and facilities within the Club that took place in these early years and still in evidence today, are testament to the electrical, mechanical and carpentry skills of past and present members.
In 1999 the Club secured a renewable 99-year lease on the site, at a modest ground rental from Somerton Parish Council essentially securing its tenure of the site.
In 2005, the Club celebrated its Silver Jubilee. To mark the event special commemorative matches were played against the Somerset Patrons, a team representing the Wessex Mixed Friendly League (of which the Club were founder members) and the Somerset Ladies Bowling Association. In addition a number of one-off social events were organised.
In recent years there have been less dramatic changes to the Club infrastructure with evolutionary rather than transformational changes being made. The Club continues to rely heavily on volunteers and testimony to their efforts can be appreciated by ongoing improvements to facilities, the green and surrounds, most notably the gardens. Above all the spirit engendered by the founder members remains in place and the culture of the Club as a warm welcoming environment is well established. A unique feature of the Club is that, unlike many other bowls clubs, it was originally constituted as a non-discriminatory mixed club. Present members of the Club are reminded that the facilities they presently enjoy are largely as a result of the dedication and commitment of the early pioneers.