Important Early Competitions

The Orams Cup and the Spalding Cup

In the early years there were not many clubs established in the district or in Essex and true to the Clubs tradition which still exists today the members decided to commence competitions amongst  themselves. This provided the members with additional organised games and clearly sharpened up their playing abilities as they were soon entering Essex County BA competitions once this organisation had been formed in 1908. They also became involved in the establishment and organisation of inter club competitive matches against other clubs in the town.

At a Committee Meeting held before the 1907 season commenced it is recorded that Mr G F Orams a founder member, ‘very generously offered to provide a cup for Competition — an announcement received with acclamation.’ At the Committee meeting of 20 June 1907 it is further recorded, ‘Mr G F Orams formally presented a handsome solid silver cup value 7 guineas to the Club. The cup was exhibited and much admired.

It was agreed to play for the cup ‘in the usual way’ this year, the winner to hold the cup for one year and to receive a gold medal kindly offered by founder member Mr John Miller who also agreed to give the runner up a silver medal. A third prize was to be given by the Club. This competition to be finished by Wednesday 24 July with the final to be played off on Wednesday’.

It was agreed that;

  1. The cup must be won three times by same member before it becomes his own property
  2. The Club to insure the cup to value of 7 guineas in the winners name each year.
  3. Number of points (shots): 15. Semi Final: 21. Final: 21.

Later minutes show that the Orams Cup Tournament was played in 1907 between the 2 June and 24 July. The winner of the Orams Cup to be declared the ‘Chelmsford Champion’. That year there were 50 entrants who paid an entry fee of six old pence each. The records do not deta the format of the Tournament but it is suspected that this was on a knockout basis. The Final was played at 7pm on the 25 July 1907 with the First Prize of a Gold Medal value One Pound Two Shillings and Six Pence and the Orams Cup being won by H Davis. Second Prize of a Gold Medal value Twelve Shillings and Six Pence was won by W F Arlidge with a Third Prize of a Gold Centred Medal of value Eight Shillings and Six Pence being won by Cuthbert Brown.

In 1908 at a Committee Meeting held on 19 May the committee agreed for this tournament that no woods outside 4ft radius to count. Canes of 4 feet in length to be provided. At the AGM of 1909 the 4 feet limit was abolished and the laws of the EBA would be adhered to whenever possible!

H S Munnion won the ‘Orams Cup’ on six occasions, three of which were during the First World War (1914 -18) therefore they must have relaxed the rule about it becoming a members own property if it was won three times. However, in 1925 the Mayor and Club President Fred Spalding donated another silver cup and this became the ‘Championship Cup’ which was first played for in 1926. H S Munnion was the last member to win the ‘Orams Cup’ and he appears to have been awarded this cup to keep. Sadly the ‘Orams Cup’ is not one that the Club possesses today and we have no record or photograph as to what it was like.

The ‘Spalding Cup’ as it was known continued to be played for up to 1934 when L S (Sandy) Barclay won it outright. He represented this back to the Club and desired this to be presented to the ‘Club Championship’ runner up. This delightful cup is still in the Club’s possession.

A new Championship Cup was purchased by the Club in 1935 at a cost of £4 —4—0. This cup was first won in 1936 and is played for today as the ‘Men’s Championship Cup’.

Frank Brown Challenge Cup

At a Committee Meeting held on 18 February 1908 the Frank Brown Challenge Cup is first mentioned. Frank Brown was also a founder member ofthe Club. Frank Brown sent a letter to the Secretary Frank Clist stating, ‘He was willing to leave details to the Committee and that he could not afford a too expensive one and that he did not wish to have any mention of it in the papers.’ This cup was to be played for between Chelmsford BC and Colchester BC with the minutes stating:

  1. Cup to be won three times altogether then to become property of the winning club
  2. Two matches each year Home and Away.
  3. Teams twelve a side.
  4. Twenty one points up with the club obtaining the highest number of points in the two yearly matches to hold the cup for that year.
  5. All players must be Members of each club.
  6. Value of cup not to exceed three guineas and to be a small solid silver cup.

The first match is recorded as Chelmsford 74 Colehester 53 played as fours on three rinks, but there is no record where this was played. The second match resulted in Chelmsford beating Colchester 77—43 to win the Frank Brown Challenge Cup for the first time with an overall score of 151—96.

The third match was won by Chelmsford in 1911 and resulted in the Frank Brown Cup becoming the property of the Club. The Club Committee decided that this cup should be competed for annually in a singles tournament with the first winner being J W Parker in 1912.

Canon Lake’s Rose Bowl

At the Annual General Meeting held in the Charity School on Tuesday 10 March 1908 it was suggested by the Rev. Canon Lake the Rector of St Mary’s Church (now the Cathedral), “a competition between the three wards of Chelmsford made up of Club Members. Each ward to select twelve players”.

At a Committee Meeting held on 7 April 1908 the following was recorded. It was resolved to accept Canon Lakes Prize for the three wards of Chelmsford. (They did not record here what the prize was) A selection committee to be formed in each ward to select twelve players. Each ward to play the other two wards, 21 ends and the prize to be awarded to the ward obtaining the highest aggregate number of points (shots).

On Tuesday 19 May 1908 the minutes state, ‘It was agreed to ask Canon Lake to present to the Club a Rose Bowl for competition among the three wards — the winning twelve to play tournament fashion to decide which member should hold it for the year’. At the AGM of 1909 it was stated in the Secretary’s report, ‘That the Rose Bowl presented by Canon Lake had been won by Springfield’ — this confirms that Canon Lake did in fact provide the Rose Bowl but we do not know if the play-off between the winning players ever took place.

A fours competition between Club members who resided in the three Wards of the Borough was devised. Their residential qualifications were in fact checked according to a recorded minute. Mr Byford agreed to make arrangements for the Springfield Ward and he was granted permission to take in non members if members were not available. The arrangements for the North Ward were left in the hands of the Hon. Secretary Frank Clist with Messrs Shergold and Kemp taking charge of the South Ward. All games to be played in July with the Secretary being requested to insure the Rose Bowl. This inter-ward competition continued up to 1925.

There is a note in the minutes for 1925 that the Ward Competition was discontinued, no reason being given with the Canon Lake’s Rose Bowl now being awarded to the Club Pairs Tournament winner. The first winners being Messrs Williams and Brown in 1926. In 1935 ‘The Ladies’ presented to the Club a new large Rose Bowl and it was agreed to allocate this magnificent trophy to the winners of the Club Pairs Tournament. Canon Lake’s Rose Bowl was allocated to the runners-up in this same pairs tournament. These two solid silver trophies are the two trophies which members play for today in the Men’s Club Pairs Competition.

The Webber and Cowell Cups

It appears that this competition was one played between three clubs in Chelmsford on an annual basis and was most probably the first ever inter-club bowls league in Chelmsford. The minutes first mention the Webber Cup on 23 June 1908 as, ‘The Secretary reported that in company with Messrs Dyke and Coulson he had attended a meeting in connection with the Webber Cup. The arrangements agreed to at that meeting were confirmed by the Committee. (There is no mention of what the ‘arrangements’ were).

The first result involving the Club in the Webber Cup appears in the record as Chelmsford 100 St John’s 43 played as a fours match on four rinks. At this time we are unable to establish who the St. John’s were and where they played.

A second match involving the Club in this competition was against Arc Works on August 22 1908. This match resulted in a win for Arc Works 90 — 86. Arc Works is the name of Cromptons original factory in Anchor Street and also that at Writtle Road. Cromptons BC did have a green at their sports ground in Princes Road which has been built upon by the Tesco Supermarket. A record in the minutes of the 1909 AGM states that Arc Works had won the Webber Cup in 1908 by 4 points.

At this same AGM it was announced by the Secretary that the Webber Cup would be played for in 1909 on the league system — each club to meet the three others twice — home and away — every win to score 2 pts. and a draw 1 pt. — the game to consist of 21 ends.

In 1912 just five years into the competition Arc Works won the Webber Cup for the third time and following the practice adopted at that time it was awarded to Arc Works (Cromptons) and they probably played for this in internal club competition. As Cromptons BC no longer exists we may never know what happened to this cup hut we have an excellent photograph hanging in the pavilion showing our worthy winners with the Webber Cup in 1910.

The League continued in 1913 with another cup being presented by Councillor Cowell for the winners. Again this cup was soon dispensed with as Arc Works won the new Cowell cup for the third time in 1922 with no more matches between this trio being recorded after this date. Clearly St. Johns were no match for either Chelmsford or Arc Works as they never featured as cup winners.

Phot o fthe winning bowls team of the 1910 Webber Cup final, taken in the park

The Webber Cup Final 1910 – Winning Team
Back Row: C. Cass, A. C. Cattle, F. W. Gibbons, F. Clist, W. Debnam, G. A. Coulson
Middle Row: H. Kemp, J. W. Palmer, C. E. Drake, W. J . Dyke
Front Row: H. S. Munnion, J. Byford

The Ridley Shield

At a committee meeting held on  18 August 1921 Percy Ridley a member of the Club donated three guineas to the Club and the committee decided to purchase a shield for their Handicap Tournament.

The Lt. Col. W P N Ridley Shield is still played for to-day in exactly the same competition as it was first intended by the 1921 committee members. The first winner in 1921 was A C Crowe.

The Coronation Pairs

In 1952 the Club was asked by the Chelmsford Borough Council to organise a bowls competition to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. This was agreed by the Committee and since then this competition has been organised by the Club with local clubs being invited to participate in a pair’s knockout competition. A Shield was provided by the Council with the first winners being C. Burgess and R. Cottam from the Falcon BC. This competition has proved to be a very popular one for local bowlers with the Chelmsford BC featuring as winners on 17 occasions.

In 2001 the Club decided to introduce a competition for those pairs eliminated at the first round stage of the ‘Shield’ competition. This is known as the Coronation Plate with a suitably engraved silver plate being donated by the Club. The first winners were Club members’ Roger and Sue Jones. In this centenary year 2006, the 54th running of the Coronation Pairs competition will have been reached.


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