Weald Bowls League
The Weald Bowls League is a friendly but competitive mixed triples league comprising 3 divisions. Clubs currently participating include a diverse range including small village clubs with 4 rinks and much larger town based clubs. Matches are mainly played on Tuesday evenings.
Teams play all of the teams in their division once at home and once away. Three triples from each club will participate with each triple playing 18 ends with 2 trial ends. At least one lady player must be included in each triple.
The top two teams at the end of the season in divisions 2 and 3 will be promoted and the bottom two teams in divisions 1 and 2 will be relegated.
UPDATE 12th May 2019 - 2 teams have had to withdraw from division 3 - for more information please see the division 3 page
POTTED HISTORY OF THE WEALD BOWLS LEAGUE - contributed by Michael Palmby.
The possibility of forming a Weald Bowls League was first discussed unofficially at the White Horse Hotel, Cranbrook, following the Final of the 1959 Weald of Kent Bowls Tournament. In the League’s first season in 1960, five clubs entered teams, namely Cranbrook, Tenterden, Benenden, Hunton and Frant. Hunton BC with 5 wins and 3 defeats won the League in the inaugural season.
Mr R Balcombe (Secretary and Treasurer) reported on the season as follows.
“The League seemed to have been a great success in its first year. My only worry before it started the games was that the sporting extra keen-ness of competitive bowling and I was only worried about that because there had been certain outside opinions that this might be the case. However, the players this season have confounded the critics and made all the work of organising the league worthwhile. They have played all the games in a friendly spirit, made new friends and enjoyed the intensity which the contest introduced into the games. I can praise Hunton for winning and commended Frant for joining although it was a long way for them to travel. The disparity between top and bottom clubs was not much”.
In the early days of the League, events managed to attract some regular press coverage in the Kentish Express that even included reports on League prospects for clubs at the beginning of the 1962 season.
Benenden – A thriving club with an improving Green and several new members anticipated.
Hadlow – Made a good start in their first attempt in 1961. Have had to quit their Green near Hadlow Castle and will play home matches next season at Pembury.
Frant – The little Sussex club are stronger in p0luck than members but don’t under estimate them.
Hunton – The club is growing in playing strength and it may be ‘Wings for Victory’ next season.’
Cranbrook – Regarded as the “Mecca” of Weald Bowls, expect improvements of recent years to be maintained.
Tenterden – Whoever beats Tenterden will win the League but this club will take some beating. With bags of talent at the captains disposal, the club “bats down to number 11”.
In 1964 the League changed to its present format for playing matches, with 3 teams of triples taking part, whereas previously it had been 2 teams of rinks. Remarkably, this format remains unchanged to the present day, although it has been reviewed on a number of occasions. During the first decade of the League, Tenterden emerged as the dominant club winning multiple league titles in the late 1960’s.
By the mid 1970’s the League had grown to include 12 clubs playing in two sections with Cranbrook, Hawkhurst and Hunton all playing in both sections. At this team membership of the league consisted of Hadlow, Pembury, Hunton, Hawkhurst, Cranbrook, Marden, Tenterden, Northiam, Battle, Hollington, Rotherfield and Westfield. The League was expanded to include Headcorn and Lamberhurst during the 1980’s.
By 1992, Northiam, Battle, Hollington, Rotherfield, Lamberhurst and Westfield had withdrawn from the League. These clubs were replaced by new arrivals in the 1990’s that included Biddenden, Brenchley, Paddock Wood, Matfield and Loose. Sadly, Brenchley , Pembury and Matfield have not been able to maintain their membership of the League in recent years but we have seen new clubs joining such as Charing, Bearsted, Ditton and Lenham.
In 2013, with the reducing membership affecting some clubs, it was agreed that the league should revert to 3 divisions from the previous 2 so as to reduce the level and days of playing commitment to a more manageable basis.
Certainly the face of the Weald League has changed significantly over the 48 years of its existence,..... The number of clubs participating in the league has been maintained over the years but the geographical area from which they have been drawn has changed. Today the League has to some extent gravitated away from the Sussex border and beyond (excepting Hawkhurst) with a number of newer and larger membership clubs joining from the area to the north of the original Weald League boundaries.