Friends of Marlpit Lane bowling green reopen site, but help still needed

By - Thursday 16th June, 2016

Charles King celebrates the return of a Coulsdon favourite, but your help is still wanted

Photo public domain.

Four years ago, the previous Conservative administration at Croydon Council announced (without any consultation) that they intended to close the public bowling green at Marlpit Lane Memorial Park in Coulsdon and would no longer be maintaining it. Over time, they intended to remove the turf and replace it with sand, as this required little maintenance. A group of local residents and bowlers, with the help of then-councillor Terry Lenton and East Coulsdon Residents’ Association, managed to form a ‘friends group’ that wanted to save this valuable asset for the public. They offered to take over the running of the bowling green from the council.

The discussions with the council took a number of months, during which time no maintenance was undertaken on the green. When the final agreement was reached with the council the green was in a sorry state, the grass was several inches high, moss had started to take over, and a number of areas had been dug up by foxes.

The friends group, with guidance from the Old Coulsdon Bowling Club, set about restoring the green ready for the next season. East Coulsdon Residents’ Association agreed at their AGM to make a donation to the friends group which, along with individual donations, enabled them to purchase a second-hand mower. Over the following winter and spring, the friends group was able to restore the green to a standard suitable for playing. East Coulsdon Residents’ Association, along with many individuals, were able to make further donations which enabled the friends to purchase public liability insurance and bowling then commenced. This saved this valuable asset for the residents of Coulsdon and Croydon. The friends also manage the adjacent putting green, which is also open to the public.

The green is open to the public and membership is not required

This year, for the third year running, the friends opened the bowling green for the season on 16th April. Gill Hickson, the chair of the Friends of Marlpit Lane Bowling Green, said “over the last three years the friends are proud to say that the bowling green has been used by all, young and old alike. As well as lots of individuals and families, we have had groups from the local Rotary club, residents’ associations, local firms, scouts, cubs, beavers and local schools and colleges. All have all become regular users of both the bowling green and the putting green. A number of groups have combined a game of bowls with a cream tea or a picnic”.

As a result, earlier this year the friends have been able to purchase new adult and junior bowls sets, a new mower, and other equipment for the green. The green is open to the public and membership is not required. They have very few rules: please be courteous to other bowlers; please wear flat shoes; and children must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

However, the friends need your help to keep the bowling green open as a valuable asset for local residents and visitors alike. They need volunteers to help with maintenance and staffing the pavilion during opening hours. Please help them to help you and keep this valuable asset in Coulsdon. Just a couple of hours per week are all that it takes.

Please contact Gill Hickson on 07532 233159 if you can help or would like to book bowling or putting.

Charles King

Charles King

Charles is a long-time resident of Coulsdon, and chair of the East Surrey Transport Committee. Passionate about railways and his local area, he has held a number of positions in community and residents' organisations. He is a member of the Labour Party, and a former chair of its Croydon South constituency party.

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