History of the club

The Spital Bowls and Tennis Club, was founded in 1920. It was planned to provide a club for those games, designed to appeal to all classes and men of all ages. No mention was made of women, and not much of tennis - but both the ladies and the tennis have come into their own as the years have gone by.

The site for the club had been chosen years before, on the triangle of land at the junction of Wigginton and Comberford road, but the First World War had taken away many young lives and it had been left to the older gentlemen who lived nearby to work and get a decent green and courts laid by their own efforts.

In that sunny post-war spring, over 120 members turned up to admire the work they had done, and the president, Mr. Hicklin (a keen bowler), gave the "go" for play to start. Mr. Gripwell was vice president, Mr. Mundy was bowls captain and Mr. Coulbourne (who lived right next door to the club) was tennis captain. It was an enjoyable opening and the member’s wives were allowed to do some baking for their men folk.

Many people ask "why the name Spital?" The club is on part of the land given by Philip Marmion in the 13th century. Here he installed a small community of White Canons with a little chapel to pray for the salvation of his soul. Little was heard of it until Henry VIII`s assessors came along three centuries later. They valued the small holding at £3.33 per year, closed the chapel, and the land passed into private ownership. It was not until 1914 that the chapel was restored and re-opened, and it was about this time that the land for the bowling and tennis club was bought.

According to John W. Parker, the first Secretary of the Spital Bowling and Tennis Club, "A number of ladies and gentlemen, having expressed an opinion that a Bowling and Tennis Club would be an acquisition to the neighbourhood, held a meeting in the Grammar School on September 29th. 1916," Generous conditions of tenure by wealthy sports enthusiast and town benefactor, the ex-Mayor of Tamworth, Alfred Sadler J.P., enabled a group of north Tamworth residents to acquire a triangular piece of land at the junction of the Wigginton and Comberford roads. 

An 1810 map of Lord Townshend`s Estates described the triangular plot as "Near Corner Close" and further holdings lying to the north as "The Spittles". However, the name Spital was attributed to the Club because of its proximity to the thirteenth century Marmion foundation of the Hospital of St. James. 

The Grammar School meeting had agreed that the new Club should not open until the cessation of hostilities and in fact the ground works took 4 years.

Thirteen members including Messrs. Hicklin, Parker, Sansom, Colbourne, Mundy, Blackhall, Cripwell and Tunnicliffe prepared a bowling green, two grass tennis courts and a "pavilion". The new Club opened on a sunny Saturday afternoon, May 22nd. 1920 and the event was described in the "Herald" a week later. 

A grounds man was paid 1s.3d. per hour despite continuing problems with invading poultry! An army hut roofed with galvanized sheets served as a makeshift pavilion until 1927 when a brick structure was erected and in the same year two hard courts were laid. Croquet was also played at the Club between the wars, but like bowls and tennis, not on Sundays until 1939. 

Today, the Club has about 180 members and welcomes new members of all ages. Social bowling and tennis takes place daily and the tennis section is affiliated to the LTA.  There is a large crown bowling green and 3 floodlit all-weather tennis courts.