History of the Bowdon Club

DATES AND FIGURES IN THE CLUB’S HISTORY (1)

Saturday, 18 April 1874 was gloomy but fine, with just a few drops of rain in the afternoon. At South Downs Road, Bowdon between 12.30 and 6.00 a game between married and unmarried members took place to celebrate the opening of a new pavilion and was attended by a large and gay (sic) assemblage of friends.

The main room of the pavilion at that time measured 50 ft by 14 ft, the home changing room 18ft by 14 ft and the visitors changing room 14ft by 11ft. There were also separate lavatories at the rear each 12ft by 8ft together with sundry out offices and underneath a small cellar for beer, wine etc. The total cost of the pavilion was £400.

Bowdon Cricket Club had been formed in June, 1856 by a group of about a dozen individuals who practised on a piece of waste ground on Rose Hill (near East Downs Road). They shortly afterwards obtained sufficient funds to establish a ground which is now the site of the Lawn Tennis Club in Stamford Road, Bowdon. In 1865 they finally moved to their present ground in South Downs Road.

In the period up to First World War the subscription to the Cricket Club was a guinea and in this period membership of the Cricket Club averaged around 150.

The first mention of Bowdon Hockey Club is in 1887 when Stanley Bridgford assembled a team from several of his friends (many from the Cricket Club), acquired a rough meadow on Green Walk and called his team Bowdon Green Walk. In 1888 the Hockey Club became a branch of the Cricket Club and all surplus funds were handed over to the Cricket Club Treasurer. Later in 1891 the Hockey Club became a separate institution and continued as tenants of the Cricket Club till 1962 – the initial rent was £7 -10s per annum.

Late additions to the pavilion include a stable for the horse (underneath where the kitchen is now). After the Second World War The Bowdon Hockey Club used the stable as a changing room for certain of their teams – this continued well into the 1970s. 

In 1939 Helen Bickham bought the South Downs Road ground from Lord Stamford and gave it to the Cricket Club in memory of her brother Ernest Bickham.

Ladies were not allowed in the pavilion till 1957. One young lady was reprimanded for pushing a pram in front of the pavilion. The person who reprimanded her was her sister’s father-in-law!

 Ladies had a separate ‘pavilion’ (actually a small shed with a corrugated iron roof) in the drive leading down to the Club. Here the served teas to visitors to the ground. There was also a primitive toilet for the ladies.

DATES AND FIGURES IN THE CLUB’S HISTORY (2)

There is an entry in the Cricket Club’s minute books  for February 1957 stating that the Club will expend £310 by screening off a portion of the east end of the pavilion installing heating and lighting AND a ladies lavatory (where the trophy cabinet is now).This ladies section would be available for use on all match days.

In 1962 the Hockey Club merged with the Cricket Club and the Club became Bowdon Cricket and Hockey Club.

A Bonfire and Firework display was held on 5th November 1968, open to the public, the charge being 15p for a single ticket and 45p for a family ticket. This was repeated the following year and continues to be a popular event in the surrounding area. Altrincham Court Leet recognised the Club’s contribution to the local community at a presentation shortly after the 50th Bonfire in 2018 – the 1973 event was cancelled because of the delay in ordering the fireworks!

In 1968 work commenced on the building of two squash courts, costing £12,850. March 1969 saw the inaugural meeting of the Squash Club and the Club title changed again to Bowdon Cricket Hockey and Squash Club. The Squash opening party was held on 4 July,1968 when a talk and demonstration was given by Bob Cooke, then Cheshire Squash champion.

The Club AGM in 1970 was the first at which ladies were entitled to be present. At this time the Club membership was approximately 650. Membership first exceeded 1000 in the late 1970’s

Further alterations to the pavilion occurred in the early 1970s when the bar was relocated to the west corner of the pavilion (in front of where the kitchen is now). The kitchen was then situated next to the bar (approximately where the bar store is now). The total cost of these alterations was £8,450.

The basic subscription rose from £6-6s in 1967 to £10 in 1974

1978 saw the building of two more squash courts (cost £35,000). Than in 1985 £149,550 was spent on major alterations to the pavilion bringing it close to how it looks today. These amendments included the installation of the two ‘wings’ to the pavilion.

The link bar whereby the squash courts were linked to the main pavilion was created in1987- cost £45,600

A more notable event in 1987 was the formation of the first Bowdon Ladies Hockey team. 

DATES AND FIGURES IN THE CLUB’S HISTORY (3)

The Club’s records state that in 1995:

a)     A 99 year lease was obtained for adjacent land

b)    Almost £200,000 had been raised from members’ gifts, pledges, brewery loans, bank facilities etc

c)     Planning consent had been given for an astro turf pitch, ladies changing rooms and a fifth glass backed squash court

However, the official opening of the Hockey wet pitch was not until September 2002. Expenditure on this pitch amounted to £566,500 and £167,250 was spent on extra changing facilities, a Club room and an admin office.

The basic subscription in 2007 was £198 (1991 £80).

New cricket nets costing £64,000 were installed in 2010

The major alterations to the squash courts did not finalise till 2017 when court number 2 was converted to a glass backed show court. At the same time there was the installation of new ceilings to improve insulation, LED lighting and a more efficient boiler- total expenditure £170,000.

Today the Club’s membership stands at 1,000+ of which over 400 are junior members. In addition all the Club’s facilities are used by several local schools.

EXTRACTS FROM ‘A HISTORY OF BOWDON CRICKET CLUB’ by D.B. YoungBECOME A MEMBER – JOIN TODAY

BOWDON CRICKET, HOCKEY & SQUASH CLUB
South Downs Rd, Bowdon, Altrincham, WA14 3DT 
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0161 928 1358

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BOWDON / ALTRINCHAM / SOUTH MANCHESTER / NORTHWEST