In December 1932 at the suggestion of Colonel C.E.Turner DSO a meeting was called to discuss the idea of laying a bowling green for the Parish of Olveston. A meeting was held in the small room of the Parish Hall on Friday 9th December. Chaired by Mr.G.L.Bennett of The Brake, Oldown, the following Gentlemen being present: Rev.Ridgewell Barker, Messrs L.Edmonds, B.Pane, G.Shute, R.Pitcher, S.Bracey, J.White, F.White, G.White, G.Stockwell, H.Parker, F.H.Haskins & H.Leakey. It was decided that Col.Turner would approach Captain Harry Salmon (a local landowner) with the hope of obtaining a site for the Bowling Green on The Park at Oldown, between the cricket pitch and the junior school. It was agreed that Col.Turner would be the first President of the newly formed Club which would be open to membership to men and ladies equally. The membership fee was set at 10s per year and an inaugural fund was set up which raised £112 5s 0d from the inhabitants of Oldown, Olveston & Tockington. With the kind permission of Capt.Salmon given, work commenced. R.Pitcher & Sons were employed to lay the green and the work was carried out under the supervision of St.Andrews Bowling Club of Bristol. The Green was officially opened on 22nd July 1933 by Mrs Turner, supported by the President. A large number of people were present and considerable interest was shown.
During 1935 the Club made application to be affiliated to the Gloucestershire Bowling Association.
In July 1945, following his death, it was confirmed by Major Salmon’s solicitors that the land occupied by the bowling green had been donated to the Club. Four trustees were appointed – FL.Bennett, G.Rugman, AJ.White & G.Taylor.
1958 saw the members of Thornbury Bowling Club join Olveston when their green (located at the site of the present Tennis Club) was no longer playable.
In 1963 it was agreed that the lady members could form their own section & committee.
A second hand pavilion was purchased in 1969 & Mr.Northover, who owned the land behind the bowling green, gave permission for the pavilion to be erected on this land, rent free.
Prior to 1974, it was only possible to play in one direction – to and from the Pavilion end – there being no ditch to the South East end. During this year however, part of the bank on the south-east corner was removed and re-turfed to form a ditch, allowing the game to be played in both directions, albeit the green was two foot shorter from the NW direction to the SE direction.
Electric power was installed in the Pavilion in 1979, the work carried out by the members. At this time the membership was 32 men & 15 ladies.
At a cost of approximately £2,300 the Pavilion was extended in 1982.
1989 saw great improvement in the Club’s facilities with the installation of toilet facilities, much to the membership’s relief!
During 1992 planning permission was obtained to build a new pavilion and work was commenced so that the new building would be completed and ready for use at the beginning of the 1993season – the Club’s Diamond Jubilee year. Interestingly during the process of seeking the necessary permissions for the new pavilion building, it was discovered that a public right-of-way crossed the bowling green diagonally from north to south. It transpired that when the green had been initially laid nothing had been done to have the route altered. Fortunately this 60 year error was corrected without cost to the club thanks to the good auspices of Northavon District Council.
The last year of the 20th Century saw the membership of the Club standing at 85 men & 45 ladies.
In 2006 Ian Gauld became the first club member to represent Gloucestershire in the County Middleton Cup side, playing in all the sides matches that year. In 2007 Ian was a member of the successful Gloucestershire side which reached the National semi-finals held at Worthing and he also played in the Balcombe Trophy side (two rinks). Also in 2007, Chris Bentley, Ian Gauld and Tony Iles became the first players from the club to reach the Men’s National Championships at Worthing when they were runners-up in the Gloucestershire Triples Championship. Further competitive success was achieved for the Club when Len Hall won the Gloucestershire County Champion of Champions Singles; another first for the Club.
2008 was the club’s 75th anniversary and special matches were arranged against City & County of Bristol and Gloucestershire County Associations. Members also played in a President’s Invitation evening against rinks from six local clubs and enjoyed a trip to Windsor to play in the Castle grounds against the Royal Household.
At the Club’s 2009 AGM, held at Olveston Parish Hall, the Ladies’ and Men’s sections were formally merged to create a fully integrated ‘mixed’ club. A new Constitution was established along with a General Committee with responsibility for Facilities Management, and two Playing Committees to manage the Ladies’ and Men’s respective playing requirements.
The winter of 2009 saw some major reconstruction work at the Club with the green surrounds replaced and re-constructed, covered with astroturf. The ditches themselves were also in receipt of an upgrade with an egg-box type rubber surface being layed. With further work undertaken on the green itself and elsewhere in the clubhouse and changing rooms, the club was well prepared for the 2010 season, and what a season it turned out to be. Thanks to the ever improving quality and reputation of the green, the Club was host to three County matches: Gloucestershire versus Herefordshire, C&C Bristol versus Monmouthshire and Gloucestershire Vice-Presidents against West Glamorgan. The ladies’ second team won promotion into the Bristol League Division 3 whilst the men’s first team won the North East Bristol League Division 1 title for first time in the Club’s history. Further success was achieved with Jack Drysdale & Len Hall reaching the finals of both the City & County of Bristol and North East Bristol Pairs Championships whilst Ian Gauld won the City & County of Bristol Singles Championship. At the end of the season a well supported bowls rules quiz night was held.
The 2011 season brought national achievement to Olveston when Veronica Ritchie reached the GBA County final and the English national finals at Leamington Spa, in the two wood singles and the men reached the last 32 stage of the National Top Club before losing to the eventual English champions, Worcester BC.
The men’s squad had a very successful 2012, reaching the semi-finals of the City and County of Bristol’s Inter-club championship for only the second time in the club’s history. Although it was disappointing not to progress to the final, it was soon forgotten when a few weeks later the club went on to win the Lloyd Trophy knockout cup. This cup success came on top of the First team being crowned Division 1 champions in the NE Bristol league and the Second team winning the Bristol & District 3rd Division. The club also fielded a Third team for the first time, consisting of many new players to the game of bowls. The ladies also had a successful season, reaching the Bristol section final of the GBA Inter-club Cup. Another highlight of the 2012 season was a four day tour to the Torbay area which proved a great success.
The summer of 2013 brought further progress and success in league and cup for the Club sides as well as in County and other competitions for Club members. Having made a decision to switch league focus and play the First Team in the Bristol and District League Division Two, the Division was won, with only one defeat in 18 matches. A number of Cup firsts were also achieved with debut appearances in the Finals of the Gloucestershire County Cup and the City & County Bristol Clarence Davey. Sadly both matches ended in defeat to Cheltenham and Portishead British Legion respectively. A second successive appearance in the final of the B&DL Lloyd Trophy ended in defeat against Bristol Greenbank. For the ladies, the League Second Team gained promotion from Bristol Ladies League Division 3 as runners-up. Club Chairman, Ian Curtis, reached the Area Final of Bowls England’s National Champion of Champions (last 32) and Ian Gauld, Chris Bentley, Ian Curtis, Paul Bryant were runners-up in the GBA County Fours Championship, going on to represent Gloucestershire at the National Championships. In the NE Bristol competitions, Olveston were strongly represented in the finals with a win in the triples for Norman Taylor, Keith Boyland, John Smallwood and in the fours for Ted Mangan, Ken D Williams, Jack Drysdale, Ian Curtis. Also, Paul Bryant was selected for the GBA Middleton Cup and Balcombe Trophy sides whilst John Smallwood was selected as reserve in the Middleton Cup. Veronica Ritchie was selected for the GBA Walker Cup side (first time for anyone at Olveston) and the Johns Trophy side along with Di Wilson.
Following another succesful beginners’ course in May, 2014 saw the Club’s playing membership reach 141. Following promotion, the men’s first team continued the winning ways to take the B&D Division 1 league title by 38 clear points. This was matched by the Ladies’ first team who also won the Bristol Ladies League Division 1 by 12 points. A tremendous league double. After the withdrawal of another team, a fourth league side was formed to participate in B&D Div4. A season of mixed results in Cup competitions saw a disappointingly early First Round defeat to Greenbank in the GBA County Cup and a Third Round (Quarter-Final) defeat to Bristol in the Clarence Davey. However, a Bristol & District League and Cup double was completed in August with revenge victory over Bristol BC in the Lloyd Trophy Final at Henleaze by 50 shots to 44. Great excitement came in the National BE Two Rink competition with the A selection managing to win six matches including wins over Cheltenham and former National winners, Worcester. Sadly the last sixteen round match versus Bletchley Town (at Norgren, Warwickshire) was lost on both rinks. Individual Club members brought further success to the Club: Sue Latham reached the National final of BE’s Ladies Senior Singles, Paul Bryant won the GBA Champion of Champions singles and John Smallwood won the C&CBBA Two Wood Championship before joining up with Chris Bentley and John Veasey to win the Triples Championship. The 2014 AGM saw a new Club Constitution adopted with equal membership for all regardless of gender.
At the 2015 Spring Meeting the General Committee introduced a new Club Identity which included a range of clothing options in an exciting new design and in support of a proposed Clubhouse redevelopment a number of sponsorship deals were revealed to help with fundraising. The main sponsorship coming from PBF Wealth Management, Optimus Chiropractor & Physiotherapy, Specsavers and Almondsbury Garden Centre. The redevelopment project received final members’ approval at an EGM on Saturday 25th July and work commenced immediately after finals weekend in mid September. Alongside the redevelopment project work, success on the green continued; the men’s 1st team retained the Bristol and District Division One Championship whilst the ladies’ 1st team only failed to do the same by one shot. The ladies were runners-up in the Gloucestershire County Inter-Club competition and the men were third in the Gloucestershire County Cup and semi-finalists in the City and County of Bristol Club Championship. The men’s second team won the NE Bristol Knockout Cup. In GBA County competition, Paul Bryant won the men’s singles and Lynne Drysdale and Sue Latham won the ladies’ pairs. In the City and County of Bristol Championships, John Veasey, John Smallwood and Chris Bentley won the Triples for the second successive year whilst Joe Hardwick and Ken Tudor became the first Olveston winners of the Pairs. John Smallwood also won the NE Bristol two wood singles plus John Veasey won the four wood singles beating Jack Drysdale in the final. John Veasey, Chris Bentley, and Tony Iles were beaten finalists in the NE Bristol Triples. Four Club members represented Gloucestershire in competitive matches: Sue Latham, Paul Bryant, Andy Locke and John Smallwood. The year ended with playing membership at the agreed maximum of 150.