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Sunningwell Road, Oxford, OX1 4SY

South Oxford Bowls Club, Sunningwell Road, Oxford, OX1 4SY - Tel: 01865-243129

This friendly and highly successful club was founded in 1906 as a section of the amalgamated South Oxford Cricket, Tennis and Bowls Club, which rented the Braenose College ground between the Abingdon Road and the Isis.  Older members formed a club and played round the field using white lines for ends and a white circle for the jack.  In 1911, a new and permanent green of natural turf with ditches was laid in the south-east corner of the ground near the river. This was cared for by founder member Edmund Green, the Brasenose College groundsman.

Following a disastrous move in 1931 to nearby Queens College, in 1932 a few members arranged to rent the present site in Sunningwell Road from the City of Oxford Corporation.

In 1933 a green was laid as a result of wonderful contributions of time and money made by many members.  Part of the pavilion was erected at this time and in 1934 the pavilion and green were officially opened.

The maintenance of the pavilion and improvements to the surroundings and car park were done very largely by voluntary efforts of the members.

The four-rink green became quite good, but with increasing membership it soon became obvious that only six rinks would be good enough for the Club.  The green was extended, but was never really successful and in 1946-47 the present Lakeside Green was laid by Maxwell Hart Ltd.  Once again, members paid the cost and worked hard and long preparing the site, thus saving the Club hundreds of pounds.

During the 1947 winter the green was flooded and the worried members were warned that it would either "make or break" it. It made it, and it was not long before County Finals, Middleton Cup Matches and Quarter Finals of the Middleton Cup Competition were being played on it.

In the 1960s it was feared that the orchard adjoining the near neighbours would be developed into a large housing estate.  Efforts were then made to obtain the length of gardens alongside the Lakeside Green to stop any intrusion.  Mr Bert Sutton, President in 1964-65 negotiated the purchase of these four gardens and a boundary chain link fence was erected. For several years some members had allotments on this ground.

A resident offered the orchard to the Club for £500, but regretfully this was turned down by the finance committee by the casting vote.  When the major part of it was offer to the Club for £5000 in the late 1970s, the Committee decided to purchase it.

In the early 1980s quotations were obtained, together with advice from the Sports Turf Research Institute in Yorkshire, with a view to laying a second green on the orchard site, which was known as the Orchard Green.

On the recommendation of the STRI, Bishops of Maindenhead laid the new green and most of the surrounding paths.   Many hours were spent by members in removing the hedge and filling the lake to enable better access along the Lakeside Green.  At the same time, plans were passed for a new changing room which was built entirely by members.  The end of the clubhouse was also extended and major alterations inside were also carried out by members. The Orchard Green was opened in 1985 by a former Club President Mr R F P Duke. In 2011 The Orchard Green was renamed The Randy Ealey Green in recognition for his services to the Club.

In 1981 it was proposed that some form of permanent fixture should be built to commenorate the Club's 75th anniversary.  Therefore the scoreboard dividing the two greens was enclosed with a Bradstone surround.  The Orchard Green scorboard was also incorporated into this project.  Most of the finance and work was donated by the members of the club.

In 2000 again the elements took over and both greens and the clubhouse were flooded.  On this occasion extensive renovation was required to the clubhouse and a dedicated band of helpers set to work salvaging, cleaning, re-fitting, rebuilding and decorating before the start of the bowling season.

The greens are now dealt with by Avonmore Associates who carry out the heavy work during the winter with some summer maintenance.  The day-to-day cutting and care during the playing season is done voluntarily by club members.  The surroundings are tended regularly by a small band of willing members and several awards for the colourful floral displays have been won in the "Oxford in Bloom" competitions.