The Bowls Clubhouse was built in 1909 along with two of the four proposed bowling greens, which opened in June of that year. The onset of World War I stopped construction of the other two greens which has left the clubhouse off centre in terms of the established bowling greens.
In the early days Wimbledon Park was respected and recognised by the English Bowling Association and the English Women’s Bowling Association as maintaining superior bowling greens to any other public greens in England. This attracted national tournaments to Wimbledon Park. The London Parks Bowling Association also held their championships on the greens. So, during this golden period from 1935 to 1976, Wimbledon Park was essentially the equivalent of the All England for bowling tournaments.
The English Women’s Bowling Association held the National Championships at Wimbledon Park for two weeks each year from 1935 until 1939 and then after the Second World War from 1945 until 1976 when the National Women’s Championships moved to Royal Leamington Spa. The Wimbledon Park Ladies were proud to host this important annual event; in fact if you had bowled at Wimbledon Park you really were someone and had made your mark in the bowling world.
In 1969, the Surrey County Women’s Bowling Association presented the Wimbledon Council with the pavilion clock, which remains to this day, in memory of a very famous lady bowler – Mrs Johns, after whom the Inter-county John’s Trophy is named.
In 2005 Wimbledon Park Bowls Club and Wimbledon Park Ladies’ Bowls Club formally amalgamated to become the mixed club that they are today. In 2007 the ladies section celebrated their diamond jubilee and in 2009 the club celebrated the first one hundred years of bowling at Wimbledon Park.
The club has achieved much recognition over the past one hundred years. Chief among its successes have been its England international players, Mrs Wolsey-Smith in 1952 and 1953, Mrs Jackson from 1954 through to 1963 and Mrs Linney in 1957, 1958 and 1959. More recently, in 2010 and 2013, Rachel Winter reached the quarter-finals of the National Under-25 singles and in 2011 and 2013 went one better reaching the semi-finals of the National Under-25 pairs.
Success also came at county level with county honours going to club members in the Surrey Women’s Championships in the 1940’s, 1950’s, 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s and in the Surrey Men’s Championships in the 1990’s. More recently, Martin Jewitt was Runner-Up in the Surrey Secretaries Championship in 2005, Rachel Winter was the Under-25 Pairs Champion in 2007, 2011, 2012 and 2013, Runner-Up in the Under-25 Singles and Under-31 Palm Trophy in 2012 and Under-25 Singles Champion in 2013. In 2015 Jonathan Winter became the youngest ever winner of the Surrey Men’s Unbadged Singles.
Wimbledon Park has been proud of its roots as a London Parks’ club and until a few years ago took part in the inter-club London Parks’ Jackson Shield winning this prestigious award for being the top London Parks’ Bowling Club in 1991 and winning the Daily Telegraph Cup on four occasions, 1936, 1938, 1944 and 50 years later in 1994. Club members also won the London Parks’ Pairs in 2000.
Local success has also been achieved within the Wimbledon and District Bowls Association. Wimbledon Park bowlers have won individual honours in each of the last six decades, winning the WDBA Pairs and Triples in 1969, the triples in 1972, the Champion of Champions in 1984, the Men’s Pairs in 1989, 1990 and 1991, along with the Men’s Triples in 1991 and the Men’s Fours in 1996. Moving into the 21st Century, Wimbledon Park won the Men’s Fours in 2007, Mens’ Triples in 2008, 2014 and 2015, Champion of Champions in 2012, Men’s Pairs in 2013, 2014 and 2015, Mixed Pairs in 2015, Over 60s Singles in 2016, Mixed Singles in 2015 and 2016 and Men’s Singles in 2017. In 2017 the club was also Runner-Up in the Ladies Singles, the Men’s Pairs and the Mixed Triples.
Wimbledon Park won the WDBA midweek league in 2003 and 2008 as well as being runners-up in 2014; they were Runners-up in the WDBA Top Ten Competition in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
In 2013, club secretary Barry Willingham, was recognised by the Mayor of London for his contribution to volunteering at the club, leading the weekly taster/coaching sessions. Barry was also runner-up in the Team London award for volunteering in the category of Sport and Healthy Living.
In 2014, Rachel Winter won the Merton Civic Award for Sporting Achievement, Luke Meah-Wilson won the Merton Civic Award for Young Person’s Achievement, as well as winning the Mayor of London’s ‘Under 25 – My Community Award’ and Barry Willingham was honoured by the Surrey Bowls Association receiving the prestigious Leopard Award for his contribution to grass roots bowling for a period exceeding 20 years. Barry also received an ‘honourable mention’ in the London Sports Awards as well as being short-listed for the Merton Volunteer of the Year Award.
In 2014, Bowls England, the National Governing Body of the sport of lawn bowls, recognised the achievements of Wimbledon Park by awarding them regional winners for the South of England and 3rd place overall in the England Bowls ‘Club of the Year’ competition.
In 2015, Barry Willingham won the Merton Civic Award for Sporting Achievement whilst Dilys Rogers was honoured by Surrey Women’s Bowling Association with their Long Service Award having contributed to club and county for over 30 years.
In 2016, Betty Aldrich was also honoured by Surrey Women’s Bowling Association with the Long Service Award in recognition for her 30+ years serving Wimbledon Park.