A Member of Croquet England
The Pavilion, Lammas Park, Culmington Road,
Ealing, London W5 5JH
Croquet has been played in Lammas Park, albeit not continuously, since the early years of the twentieth century. Since the opening of the park in 1883, Ealing Council has promoted sporting activities. By 1907, in addition to the usual avenues of trees, flower beds and a tea chalet, there were two bowling greens and a cricket pitch with shelters for the players. By 1911 there were nineteen tennis courts and four croquet lawns, some if not all in “The Enclosure” to the east of Culmington Road. References to a croquet club can be found in the Ealing Year Books throughout the First World War and into the nineteen-thirties, but by 1940 the club had disappeared from the record books.
There seems to be no further mention of croquet in Lammas Park until 1972, when it was reported in the “Ealing Gazette” that a Mr. Norman Pointing, an Ealing Councillor, persuaded the Council to allow the use of one of the three bowling greens for croquet. A club was duly formed with Mr. Pointing as Chairman. It attracted nineteen members, but as early as September of 1972 problems arose, not so much because of the small membership as their reported unwillingness to take responsibility for the running of the Club. Mr. Pointing’s efforts to recruit more members failed, and by October 1974 the Club had folded.
Croquet returned to Lammas Park in 1988. The Croquet Association, with the enthusiastic participation of croquet fan Lionel Wharrad, a director of John Lewis, launched a major drive to promote the game. There was a massive publicity campaign, targeting local authorities in particular. As a result of the interest aroused by this, Ealing Council decided to back the sport. Apparently Neil Kinnock, the Labour MP who at that time lived next door to Lammas Park, took a keen interest in the initiative. The main driving force behind the creation of the club, however, was Ron Welch, a croquet coach, who had already been giving lessons on some disused tennis courts in Pitshanger Park. Having persuaded the Council to allow, once again, the use of one of the bowling greens in Lammas Park, he set up a well-attended preliminary meeting in Ealing Town Hall, and the club was launched at the beginning of May 1988 with a “Come and Try Day”. In spite of torrential rain some sixty people turned up, about forty of whom subsequently became members, with an age range from fifteen to over eighty.
That initiative, thirty years ago, marked the beginning of the present club. At that time two Bowling Clubs, one for men and one for women, used the premises and lawns. There were two separate club houses. However, it seems that relations between the two clubs were not amicable, and membership dwindled. The Croquet Club, who had at first only had use only of the top lawn, took over the bottom lawn as well. Matters were not helped when vandals set fire to the ladies’ clubhouse, and it was completely destroyed. As a replacement the present single-storey extension was put up alongside the men’s club house. The combined Bowls Club soldiered on until 2010, when it finally folded. This was good news for the Croquet Club, who now had exclusive use of the facilities and of all three lawns. The lawns continue to be well maintained by Ealing Council, and are so well drained that they are always dry and playable even in the depths of winter. The bowls pavilion underwent several changes during the first half of the twentieth century to create the building that exists today.
There are few records of the Club’s playing success over those 30 years, although it has had some notable members. A previous President of the CA, Quiller Barrett, is a former member, and our ex-Secretary Alain Giraud and ex-member Jose Riva have played in several World Championships.
We are grateful to Isobel Alsbury for researching this background information. Anyone with other information is welcome to submit it to us.