Some clubs are in financial difficulties: Angmering where croquet members have to pay to be social members of the Ham Manor Golf Club which has doubled its fee and takes it beyond what is likely to be affordable by the croquet element. Another is Purley Bury where for the first eight years of its existence the club has paid a nominal annual fee to the owners of £800 and is now increased to £2,000 for its 35 croquet membership to pay.
Crawley began the formal applications in June for a lease for its courts which were due for relaying as part of the renovation of Worth Park but was told that Crawley BC was re-considering its strategy for the lawns.
In August the club was told that the park is to be as inclusive as possible attracting a fully representative cross-section of the community. The Head of Amenity Services e-mailed – “Whilst we fully support the croquet club and wish it to thrive, it is essential that non-members can also enjoy the lawns and freely participate in croquet. This is our strategy for the lawns. It has recently been discussed by the Worth Park Steering Group and agreed by the council’s lead member for Leisure and Culture”.
On 30th September a meeting was held between representatives from the BC and the club. The club was told that it would not be permitted to build a new pavilion and that it might not have a licence for exclusive use of the lawns. If things go well (from the council’s point of view) the BC may erect a new pavilion and the club would be given (?) part of it in which to keep its equipment. The long meeting revealed that the BC had not thought through how it would organise loaning of equipment to members of the public, care of the lawns, etc. It seemed very possible that the improvement to the lawns would not take place – the project is running out of money as some repair/reconstruction jobs are costing far more than expected. The BC is happy for the club to continue using its old pavilion (just a wooden hut with no facilities and on its last legs) until it has set up some system for the public to play. The club has no indication as yet of the annual per capita fee it will have to pay for the new lease and is fearful it will be beyond the means of its aging membership.
The bowling club
adjacent to the Guildford and Godalming Croquet Club has
also given up the ghost. The main user of the sports club, the
rugby club, wants croquet to use the single bowls green and give
up its 4 courts to them. The issue is complicated by the fact that
the ground involved stretches across two district boundaries.
They are putting together a project to build a clubhouse on the existing footprint of the former bowling club building and to reseed the area given to it for four courts. It is hoped to start the project in the coming season which will make a significant enhancement of the facilities and the attraction of the club to new members.
Medway Croquet Club is hoping to move to a new venue in 2015, which is fractionally less than a mile from its present home and is indeed in the same parish, about 4 miles west of Maidstone. The site is in the grounds of Bradbourne House, which was originally Tudor-built, but much restored in the 18th century. It is set in 20 acres of private parkland. The house is used for wedding receptions and concerts etc and is also the headquarters of the East Malling Trust (the landlords). It is part of a field that is not used but has been gang-mown regularly. One end of the field abuts an old walled garden and the East Malling Research Station, (which the Trust runs) is planting some fruit trees at that end of the field. The field is in the shape of an elongated triangle with the parkland on one side and trees hiding a housing estate on the other. Planning permission for the whole project including 4 courts, club house and car park has just been approved.
The request for a 20 year lease for Caterham has suffered delays as the newly formed Queen Elizabeth Fields in Trust, a charity to perpetuate the use of land for sports fields, now controls the leases of users but the local council still have to give its approval. Thus the bureaucratic process is lengthened. Plans to improve the small clubhouse and to re-locate the two courts to a better site have been put on hold until the lease is approved. But costs for the project are already rising. The Trust is insisting that a valuation of the club house costing £1000 must be completed and that the Council should carry out the work instead of private contractors arranged by the club which would have cost several thousand pounds less.
However the club has continued to raise a thousand pounds here and there and is optimistic. A recent meeting of members raised an impressive £20,000 of pledges.
Work progressed slowly at the new club at Lodsworth, the weather being a primary factor in the early part of the year. Two coaching days were held at Rother Valley, the first one attended by 15 people and the second by 20! However the club now has a beautiful lawn of its own and boasts 42 signed up members. It will be holding its first AGM in November.
The club has now met the conditions laid down by the committee for the £1000 grant applied for and is anxious to receive the grant to help fund the maintenance work required on and around the new lawn over the winter.
At the end of its first season the membership of Cheam Croquet and Bowling Club (formed at a defunct bowling club) was 88 with about 70 preferring to play croquet and the remainder with a preference for bowls. The waiting list had reached 39. Almost all the members are retired and a few are in their eighties. Less than 10 had played croquet seriously before. Several have said that joining the club has changed their lives! 25 members did not re-new their membership for the start of the 2013 season but 16 new members were taken on from the waiting list.
Since the start of the year 11 more new members were signed on, most as a result of the public coaching course the club is obliged to run under the agreement with Sutton Council. 10 people attended the course and all of them joined so membership is now 90.
Cheam entered a team in the SECF's Golf Handicap League this season and also played at the Golf Teams Day. In addition Cheam has played 5 friendly matches - 4 golf and 1 association. 4 members played in the C level competition at Hamptworth. The bowls element has elected to play its own croquet competition over the winter months! In all an outstanding beginning for a new club thanks to the quality of its leadership.