For many years the bowling and tennis clubs had shared facilities at the south end of our site – which meant that we had a long trek from the bowling green to answer even a basic call of nature.
On the long coach journey back from a bowls tour in 1989 a discussion took place amongst some members that we really needed, at least, toilet facilities close to our green. By the end of the journey we had decided to build a clubhouse and had formed a sub-committee to look into the feasibility of building a new clubhouse.
Apart from a qualified electrician and some DIY skills, we had no design or building knowledge and little idea what lay ahead. If only we knew …..
Some plans were drawn up by a friendly architect and we initially applied for planning permission to see whether or not we would be allowed to build a clubhouse and what could be built. We did this before informing our neighbours, as we thought we needed to know where we stood prior to letting everyone know what was going on.
In hindsight this may not have been the right way of going about things, as this led to us appearing on the front page of the ‘Croydon Advertiser’ for five consecutive weeks.
Suffice to say it took two years to obtain planning permission and to raise the funds to start building; but for the generosity of the majority of our members and two members who personally gave a substantial sum, the building of our clubhouse would not have been in a position to proceed at that time.
We eventually ordered a purpose-built wooden pavilion from a specialist company in Strood, Kent and, at that time, it was the largest building of its type supplied by that company and a photograph of our clubhouse was displayed on the front page of their catalogue for several years afterwards.
As we were starting from scratch, we had to build a large concrete base as well as laying drains building ‘soak-aways’ and laying on power and water supplies. We employed builders for this work and one of the highlights was to see them burrowing under the pavement and road to connect up with the drain running down the centre of Brancaster Lane; a tunnel that appeared to be supported by thin sticks and orangebox wood, the offer by the builders of “crawling through to see what was going on at the sharp end” was promptly declined by one of the sub-committee.
The outer shell of the building was erected with the help of many of our members. We had to insulate and line the walls, fix a ceiling, build and plaster all the internal walls, build a bar and kitchen, lay in the electrics plumbing and burglar alarm and fully equip the building.
All the internal work was carried out by the members, regardless of age or gender, with some doing the building work, some painting and others providing copious amounts of tea and moral support.
To see the club as it was last winter the Google picture is on the site on the page called Google Earth.