History of the Club
It is not known when Seaton Bowling Club was formed, but it has been established that the Club was first affiliated to the Devon County Association in 1910 and accordingly centenary celebrations were held in 2010.
The Club originally played its bowls in the vicinity of Westwood Way, adjoining Colyford Road near the ground of Seaton Town Football Club, before moving to its present location in Sea Hill in 1929. The green, which is leased from East Devon District Council and was laid at a cost in the region of £600, was officially opened on 18th July, 1929 by Mr G. Lang, President of the English Bowling Association. A detailed account of the occasion of the opening of the green was published in the Pulman’s Weekly News of 23rd July, 1929.
The original pavilion in Sea Hill was a wooden hut. During the ensuing years this was replaced by a pavilion of a more substantial structure but of basic design. With the aid of a Lottery Grant in 1996, repayable bonds purchased by the members and fund raising events, the Club were able to extend the pavilion and incorporate a modern kitchen and a bar. Additionally, the dressing rooms were designed in such a way that partitioning can be removed at the end of the outdoor bowling season to allow room for two rinks of short mat bowls to be played, plus a skittle alley, to give members an interest during the winter months.
When the Club was first formed it was restricted to Male members only and it was not until 1948 that a separate Ladies Club was formed. The Clubs kept their separate Male and Female identities until 1981 when they amalgamated to become one Club, but with separate Men and Ladies Sections within the Club and each Section having it's own set of Officers. This arrangement remained until 2013 when complete unification took place, thus resulting in one set of Officers being elected.
The Club Badge
The ship, depicted in the redesigned badge of Seaton Bowling Club, is of the type shown in all versions of the badge currently in use. This ship is the barque SV Berar, which was built at the yard of William Pile, of Pile, Hay and Company, Sunderland, in September 1863. She was an iron vessel, some 188 feet long, 32 feet beam, three masted and, of course, square rigged.
Initially, the Berar was used to carry immigrants to Australia and New Zealand. Under charter to the Shaw Savill Company the ship made three trips to New Zealand. The first leaving London 5th February 1865, she reached Wellington on 10th May, a passage of 93 days. Her next New Zealand voyage was to Aukland, when she left London on 22nd May 1873 and reached Aukland after a passage of 103 days on 3rd September.
On this occasion she carried out 308 immigrants, who all arrived well, in spite of the fact this was a large number for a ship of her size. Other voyages included London, via Plymouth, to Port Adelaide in 1867, again carrying immigrants, and also voyages to Fiji.
In October 1896, when owned by an Italian company, she was carrying a cargo of about 1200 tons of sawn timber planks from Finland to Seville, Spain, passing through the English Channel. Whilst tacking, in a strong Westerly gale, from The Casquets, a group of dangerous rocks between Alderney and the French coast, to Start Point, in Devon, the conditions worsened to the extent that the captain attempted to change course and make for the safety of Portland. However, due to the worsening conditions he lost his bearings and the vessel became embayed in Lyme Bay. As a result she was eventually driven broadside onto the rocks at Culverhouse Point on the western end of Charton Bay, near Rousdon, on the night of 5th October 1896. The crew, which was made up of mainly Italian nationals, comprised Captain Bertolotto, 13 men and 2 boys and, thankfully, they all managed to struggle ashore safely. Three days later she was broken in two by another storm and became a total wreck.
Local fishermen and others salvaged some parts of the vessel and her cargo, the most notable item being her small figurehead, which was recovered by a 62 year old Seaton man named George Tolman. The grandson of this painter and fisherman, Ken Tolman, also a painter and fisherman, lived all his life in Seaton and had the figurehead displayed in the hall of his house in Queen Street until his death in 1988, whereupon it was presented to Seaton Museum by his son, Christopher (aka Topper) and is on permanent display there together with other recovered items and photographs. Members of the Tolman family have been involved with Seaton Bowling Club over the years.
UPPER LEFT FIELD
The brandy barrel floating in the sea represents the smuggling that was carried out in the Seaton and Beer area back in the 18th and 19th centuries.
If smugglers were chased by the Revenue Cutter, they would rope together barrels of brandy they were attempting to bring in from France and drop them overboard into the sea. This would greatly improve their chances of escape, because to secure a conviction the Cutter required both the smuggler and the contraband. If time was available, the barrels would be attached to an anchor, so they would remain submerged and could be recovered later.
One of the most famous smugglers of the day was Jack Rattenbury, who was born in Beer in 1778. He died aged 65 and was buried in Seaton Churchyard on 28th April 1844, at an unmarked spot close to the north transept.
UPPER RIGHT FIELD
Herring Gull – Larus argentus
One of the most common sea birds in the area, it is virtually impossible to come to Seaton Bowling Club and not see a number of these birds.
Attracted to the area by the availability of perfect nesting sites in the local cliffs and rocky shoreline and, when fishing was a major employment from our beaches, the plentiful supply of fish and fishing waste, these birds now seem to want to nest on rooftops and chimneys within the town.
This is the second largest of the gulls, only the Great Black-backed Gull is larger.