County Arts Club

Club History

The club was formed in 1941, taking over the premises of the Harvey Lane Sports Club, which occupied the site of a former clay pit. The aim of the club was to promote the social arts i.e. tennis, badminton, snooker, drama and social events. With the club being outside the Norwich city limits it was decided to rename it The County Arts Club.

When the club was barely 6 months old, on Friday 26 June 1942, it was destroyed in a German air raid. This did not deter the members and 2 old Eastern Counties Omnibus coaches were bought to serve as a club house. A later addition was a Nissen hut and the coaches were removed.

At this time there was no mention of a bowls section, although there was a small green in front of the club. The land was owned by a Mr. Howes and as he took more interest in the club, he became the first President. Records show that club funds at the time were £29.5s.4d, with 80 members. Membership cost 2/6d (12.5p) and 4/6d (22.5p). To show how austere times were, members were asked to bring their own cups and glasses if they required refreshment.

As time went on, Mr. Howes found his enthusiasm waning and he offered the land to the club for the princely sum of £1000, with the money being paid when the club could afford it.

July 1942 brought the first mention of Peter Paul, a man of great vision who was to become the 'Godfather of County Arts'.

Over the ensuing years and up until his death in 1975 he did every job possible within the club, eventually going on to be the Norfolk County President and EIBA Senior Vice-President. The club slowly became more popular and numbers had to be restricted to 120. After a while a decision was made to build a new clubhouse and on completion it was officially opened by Norman Low, a central defender for Norwich City Football Club, along with a few of his fellow players. A fund of £50 was then set aside to improve the green if and when required and in 1952 a new green was laid to E. B. A. standards. This was when the bowls section was born.

In the mid 1950's Peter Paul found out that bowls was being played indoors on coconut matting at Gorleston Holiday Camp. After a few visits by various members, the club entered a team in the league. This was obviously where the seeds were sown for an indoor club, as transportation to and from the camp was not as easy as it is today.

The idea did come to fruition in 1962 and The County Arts Club became the first purpose built indoor club in Norfolk. The playing surface was a jute carpet. Another first for the club and Peter Paul, along with help from member Willie McLeod, was the development of the heavy weight jack. It was obvious from the start that the regular outdoor jack was too light indoors, so several metal ones were made at Laurence Scott & Electromotors Ltd., where they worked. A prototype was submitted to the E.I.B.A. executive who, after extensive testing, passed it and it was accepted throughout.