ASHFORD (KENT) RAIL BOWLS CLUBThe Club was formed in 1924 and named the Southern Railway Bowling Club, Ashford. The membership was formed from employees of the Southern Railway Mechanics Institute, Newtown. Male members only were allowed and they had to be 25 years of age. Institute subscriptions were one penny. Bowling Club subscriptions were: - Playing members 5/- (25p) Non playing members 2/6 (12½p)
The first club President was R.E.L. Maunsell. C.B.E. (Works Manager) 1924 – 1934. The Secretary was G. Winder 1924 -1965.All Club matches were played at the Ashford Town Bowling Club during the first year. They played 7 matches, winning 4 of them.During the year a 6 rink Cumberland Turf Green (paid for by the Directors of the Southern Railway) was being laid by Neal & Son. A pavilion was built for the use of refreshments andlockers. The year finished with the Club Dinner at the Victoria Hotel, Beaver Road at a cost of 4/- (20p) per head.On 11th July 1925 the new green and pavilion were opened by Sir Herbert Ashcombe Walker and Lady Walker K.C.B. (General Manager of the Southern Railway 1923 -1937). The first match on the green was played against the Kent County Bowling Association. No play was allowed on Sundays.
The Club has been honoured to have had two County Presidents. Eric Cozens in 1937 and Vic Steeple in 1999. In 1977 seven members won County badges – a Club record.In 1952 the Club was taken over by British Railways and the Club was renamed the British Rail Staff Association, Ashford. In 1966 Alf Kemp was elected Bowls Secretary a job he did very efficiently until 2005. The club has only had 4 secretaries. The present secretary is Graham Williams from 2007
The Club House was rebuilt and on 27th August 1970 and officially opened by Eric Simmons, Area Manager, Southern Region.The cost of the new Club was £36,000.In 1994 the Club was again re-named Ashford (Kent) Rail Bowls Club.
2013 the Ladies and Men’s sections amalgamated. The present President is Joe Willes The Club plays in the Shepway & District league, the Bernard Annand Trophy and Memorial Shield. The club were the first winners of the Trophy in 1988. The Club looks forward to it’s centenary in 2024
Over the last ten years the club has a well established junior section. Many of the juniors now play regularly for the club at competitive levels
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