The Isle of Wight Community Club has always had a thriving Outdoor Bowling Section. However, back in 1992, a group of bowlers thought it would be a good idea to have an Indoor Bowling facility.
A Sub-Committee was formed to prepare an application for National Lottery Funding. The Isle of Wight Council’s Sports Development unit had identified that the Island could support two indoor Clubs. As the Ryde Club was already well established, another Club would merit being in the West Wight. The Island’s Economic Survey identified areas in West Wight of Economic Poverty. The Club proposed borrowing £100k from members towards the total estimate cost of £311k: all of these factors supported the criteria needed for successful lottery funding.
An application for funding was prepared for the facility to be built on part of the derelict tennis courts, with access from the Sports bar, moving the Committee room into the Indoor Bowls area and using space generated for a disabled toilet and additional gents toilets. As the application was about to be submitted a mainland company fronted by prominent Cowes people submitted a Planning Application for a Bowling facility on the Somerton Industrial Estate. It comprised two or more outdoor greens, a six rink indoor facility with bar and catering and employing 32 full and part time employees.
Although the Community Club Sub-Committee knew that the proposed scheme was not financially viable, they had to hold off submitting their own plan. After about eighteen months the Competitor Scheme was dropped and the Club was able to proceed with a successful application being made for Lottery funding.
After considering three Island contractor bids, the contract was awarded to Island Builders. Before work commenced, Island Builders had been taken over by Mansell Ltd., a South of England Private Company, who at their first meeting broke down their contract price into defined areas of work. At subsequent monthly reviews, they added or deleted costs as work progressed. This attention to detail was to be important, when, during a very wet November, they came on site on a Monday morning to find that what was to be the playing area was in fact a large pond. By mid-day they had three excavators on site to help identify the problem.
With the help of our architect, who used Dowsing Rods made from wire coat hangers. It was determined that land drains taking surplus water from the playing field had not been diverted as shown on ground plans. The construction of the footings for the new building required deeper footings on one side, resulting in drained water being retained. The solution was to make a substantial land drain starting at the Sports Bar patio and continuing behind the Indoor Bowls Pavillion into the land drain that goes into Parklands Avenue.
If the building work had been done in the Summer, we would have ended up with a tilted playing surface that would have had to be replaced. The work was completed by the Contractors one month ahead of schedule with League Play commencing in the Autumn.
The club formed in 1973 and was initially an inter-departmental bowls league for the Plessey Radar Company. They played at the Cowes Bowls club ground. Eddie Scott came to the island to work for Plessey and was a key figure in persuading people to bowl. During this time Norman Rose presented the Rose Bowl, which was first won by Reg and Frank White in 1978. The bowl is still competed for today.
In 1980 things got a bit more serious and a team was entered into the island Saturday league division 2. In this first year they finished 9th winning 9 out of 22 games. In 1981 Plessey won Division 2 after a close struggle with Cowes B. Dave Harding had a great year with the most successful rink in division 2 winning 18 out of 22 games. There was also the first B team completing in the year.
During this period Plessey played at Newport bowls green. There was a desire to get their own green; Plessey offered some ground on Three Gates Road that was marked out before they withdrew the offer. The JS White Sports Ground has a lot of history, hosting Hampshire County Cricket Club for a first class game in 1954. They had two established bowls greens, the first being laid professionally with drainage layers and Cumberland washed turf. The second being sewn by hand by the grounds man Sandy Morrel. In 1965 Elliot Corporation (US) bought JS Whites and asset stripped the old company. They tried to sell the sports ground for a number of years, in which time the ground was locked and was over grown. The Isle of Wight council took over the ground and their current home was founded. Tales followed of Mike Eggleton climbing over the locked gates to have a look, seeing the old bowls club with all the old strings and scoreboards. Apparently Cowes Golf Club got hold of the bowls pavilion following one of their clubhouse fires.
1986 was a great year, the new green was opened, and the Ladies section was formed. This first year saw the green being attacked by cricket balls, one bouncing and hitting Mike Eagleton’s children. Another afternoon three balls came over, one hitting Peter Clayton on the face, hence the need for netting. In 1987 Plessey second team won division 2, winning 22 out of 28 games. Two others competed that year, the first team finishing 7th in division one, and the 3rd sitting 12th in division 2.
The ladies success started in 1996 when they won division 3, and winning division 2 the following year. Since 2004 they have won the division one title. In 2010 the men won the division one title.