Priory Park which was opened in 1920 is located beside Victoria Avenue, Southend and in it sits Prittlewell Priory which dates from the 13th century and was home to Cluniac Monks and finally to the Victorian Scratton family, the last people to live in the priory. We also have a delightful Victorian bandstage and of course our 4 prestigious bowling greens, all set in many acres of parkland. The Prittle Broook which wanders through the nearby towns runs through it.
Founder members discussed the possibility of inaugurating Victoria Ladies Bowling Club in 1944 and so with £10.00 in the kitty raised from winter whist drives and using a clubhouse lacking electricity, water or lockers they optimistically entered their first season in 1945. At the first AGM in November a happy season was reported. Soon social activities were taking place as well as the bowling. Lockers were supplied by the Council in 1946. In 1951 the sub was raised from 5s (25p) to 7s 6d (37½ p.) and in 1960 toilets were installed and electric light (but no power) so members were asked to bring flasks of tea to refresh themselves and visitors or use the park café. However in 1974 the Council eventually installed a power point so a kettle provided hot water for tea at a cost of 2p to members.
In 1983 the English Bowling Association team visited together with their President who had played her first wood at Priory Park with her mother Mrs Maud Squire.
Our Golden Jubilee celebration was held at the Priory by kind permission of the Museum Curator and attended by the President of the EBA and her team which included five other county presidents and 62 guests enjoyed a delightful day.
In 2000 our lovely old black and white wooden pavilion was burned down and left as a charred ruin. We, and at that time, two other ladies’ clubs spent three years working out of a porta-cabin with our equipment stored in a large container opened by a huge iron bar and home to a family of field mice. At that time Priory Ladies club was in existence but sadly they disbanded several years ago. Our members supported Victoria throughout that time and although we only had a bench as our base outside we managed to have some fun days and to cater for our visitors at matches. We did not lose any members which was very rewarding. Prittlewell Men’s club,as it was at that time, had another porta-cabin.
After many meeting between a committee formed from the then four clubs and long consultation with Southend Borough Council the new pavilion opened in 2004. All four clubs had contributed financially towards the kitchen, lockers, honours boards etc. and since that time we have worked together to make the club house as it is today.
ALL ENGLAND TROPHY
In 2014 we were invited by Bowls England to donate a trophy to the runners-up of the ladies Pairs competition which takes place in Leamington each year. This is a national competition open to all bowlers.
We were very pleased to give a silver salver in memory of Vera Merchant, who had been a life member of our club and a playing member for many years.
Presented during the Nationals played at Leamington Spa in August 2014 by Angela Davies and Hilary Graseman