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Inventory Site Record

West London Bowling Club (Kensington & Chelsea)

Brief Description

The West London Bowling Club was founded in 1903, and opened its bowling green here in 1920. Bowling continued throughout WWII and the club celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1953. The green is surrounded by shrub planting and has a small pavilion. The green is surrounded by shrub planting and to the south is an area of garden. Now predominantly planted with roses, this consistently won prizes in the Kensington and Chelsea Gardens Competitions from 1968 and throughout the 1970s. In 1970 three Trophies were won and HRH Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone visited the club and gardens. There is a small pavilion with roses and other planted areas. The bowling green is surrounded by suburban housing, and is a quiet oasis of green.

Practical Information
Site location:
112a Highlever Road (off St Quintin's Gardens)
Postcode:
W10 6PL
What 3 Words:
output.rides.lunch
Type of site:
Private Open Land
Borough:
Kensington & Chelsea
Open to public?
Partially
Opening times:
Open for members, but may be some access to visitors (call 020 8969 1929)
Has taken part in Open Garden Squares Weekend 7 times, most recently in 2023.
Special conditions:
Facilities:
Lawn Bowls, Petanque, Croquet
Events:
Public transport:
Tube: Latimer Road (Hammersmith & City, Circle) then bus. Bus: 7, 70, 220
Research updated:
12/06/2023
Last minor changes:
19/07/2023

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.westlondonbowlingclub.com

Full Site Description

The land here was formerly in the Manor of Notting Barns, a farm owned by Thomas Darby of Sunbury, who in 1769 conveyed it to a relative by marriage, William St Quintin of Scampston Hall in Yorkshire. The farmhouse used to stand on the junction of St Quintin Avenue and Chesterton Road. The St Quintin Estate was only developed for housing after the construction of the Hammersmith and City railway opened up this hitherto inaccessible part of North Kensington. At that time the estate was owned by Colonel Matthew Chitty Downs St Quintin, who leased land to the entrepreneur Charles Henry Blake (1794-1872) then developing the area around the railway. Blake had already acquired land for his development on the Portobello and Ladbroke estates, and was responsible for Kensington Park Gardens, Stanley Gardens and Stanley Crescent (q.q.v.). As ground landlord, Col. St Quintin imposed stringent building requirements on Blake, such as provision of shops and houses built to high specifications and the prior approval of plans by his own architect, Henry Currey, who was employed to supervise his estate. This contrasted with building on Blake's other land, which was later notorious for its bad conditions. Cambridge Gardens and Oxford Gardens (q.q.v.) were laid out in 1869-70, the houses aimed at middle-classes and early commuters. The second building phase took place between 1871 and 1890 and included St Quintin Avenue and Highlever Road. The last part of the estate to be built took place after 1905 and was completed after WWI, predominantly working class housing built by Kensington Borough Council or charitable trusts.

The West London Bowling Club was founded in 1903 when a meeting held on 26 February decided on the desirability of forming a bowling club in the Ladbroke Grove area. In 1910 Rules & By-laws were first adopted and the Club was registered under the Licensing Act 1902. The present Green opened in 1920 and bowling continued here throughout WWII in spite of near misses by bombs and a landmine, at a time when other backlands sites around St Quintin’s were being turned into allotments. In 1945 the Club became clear of debt for the first time and in 1953 celebrated its Golden Jubilee, and the Annual Dinner for its Silver Jubilee in 1963 was attended by the Mayor. In 1969 a Ladies Bowling Section was founded. Throughout the years the Club produced many Champion Bowlers and won several Cups. 

West London Bowling Club is surrounded by suburban housing, and provides a tranquil oasis of green. The small Clubhouse Pavilion faces the Green, which is surrounded by shrub planting; to the south is an area of Garden, now separated from the green by a well-grown hedge. This Garden was formerly planted with roses and from 1968 and throughout the 1970s it consistently won prizes in the Kensington and Chelsea Gardens Competitions. In 1970 the Garden won three Trophies; HRH Princess Alice, Countess of Athlone visited the Club and Garden, and the Mayor and Mayoress were guests at the reception and Annual Dinner in the Pavilion. In later years the Garden area was largely grass, and at one time was used for children's play, but later became overgrown.

As for many bowling clubs, membership numbers declined in the C21st, and in 2013 the Club lost its licence but, with the help of St Helen’s Residents’ Association and a group of local volunteers, the Club managed to re-open in May 2014. In recent years the former award-winning gardens have been undergoing a process of restoration, through the work of the club’s active Gardening Club. New rose and other planting has taken place.

As well as Lawn Bowls the club now offers two other sports for members: Croquet in the bowling season (April to October) and Petanque/boules all year round on a purpose built court. 

During January and February 2016 a group of senior members, past and present, met to share their photographs and stories of the Club since the 1960s. Funded by Dalgarno City Living, Local Life, this project has enabled old friends to come together to share their unique memories of this special North Kensington sports facility; stories such as those about the introduction of women’s bowling in 1969 and the strict rules that were implemented regarding  the length of skirts!

Sources consulted:

West London Bowling Club booklet; https://www.westlondonbowlingclub.com/club-history/

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ233816 (523370,181680)
Size in hectares:
0.1891
Site ownership:
West London Bowling Club
Site management:
West London Bowling Club Gardening Club
Date(s):
1920
Designer(s):
Listed structures:
None
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

No
Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

No
Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:

No

Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
No
In Conservation Area:
Yes
Conservation Area name:
Oxford Gardens/St Quintin
Tree Preservation Order:
No
Nature Conservation Area:
No
Green Belt:
No
Metropolitan Open Land:
No
Special Policy Area:
No
Other LA designation:
None
Photos

West London Bowling Club

West London Bowling Club, June 2015. Photo S Williams

West London Bowling Club, rose garden, June 2023. Photograph Sally Williams
2023
West London Bowling Club, rose arch leading to former garden area, June 2023. Photograph Sally Williams
2023
West London Bowling Club, planting adjacent to Clubhouse, June 2023. Photograph Sally Williams
2023
West London Bowling Club, Petanque court, June 2023. Photograph Sally Williams
2023
Tamarix tree, West London Bowling Club, June 2023. Photograph Sally Williams
2023
West London Bowling Club,  June 2015. Photo S Williams
2015
West London Bowling Club garden: Tamarix tree, cleared of Forsythia. Photograph Margaret Tyler

Click a photo to enlarge.

More photos

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