Bowls Section History


The Club was formed in 1924 and named the Southern Railway Bowling Club, Ashford.

The membership was formed from employees of the Southern Railway Mechanics Institute, Newtown.  Male members only were allowed and they had to be 25 years of age. Institute subscriptions were one penny. Bowling Club subscriptions were:- Playing members 5/- (25p) Non-playing members 2/6- (12 1/2p).

The first President was R.E.L. Maunsell C.B.E. (Works Manager) 1924 – 1934.

The Secretary was G. Winder 1924 – 1965. In 1966 Alf Kemp was elected bowls sections secretary a job he did very efficiently until 2005. The club has had only 4 secretaries. The present secretary is Graham Williams from 2007.

All Club matches were played at the Ashford Town Bowling Club during the first year. They played 7 matches, winning 4 of them.

During the year a 6 rink Cumberland Turf Green (paid for by the Directors of the Southern Railway) was being laid by Neal & son. A pavilion was built for the use of refreshments and lockers. The year finished with the Club Dinner at the Victoria Hotel, Beaver Road at a cost of 4/- (20p) per head.

On 11th July 1925 the new green and pavilion were opened by Sir Herbert Ashcombe Walker K.C.B. (General Manager of the Southern Railway 1923- 1937) and Lady Walker. The first match on the green was played against the Kent County Bowling Association. No play was allowed on Sundays.

The Club has been honoured to have two county Presidents. Eric Cozens in 1937 and Vic Steeple in 1999. In 1977 7 members won County badges – a club record. Our most recent county badge was awarded in 2019.

In 1952 the Club was taken over by British Railways and renamed the British Rail Staff Association, Ashford. The Club was renamed again in 1994 Ashford (Kent) Rail Bowls Club.  2013 the Ladies and Men’s sections amalgamated.

The Club play in National and County competitions. The Shepway and District league and the Bernard Annand Trophy competition for clubs in East Kent.