HISTORY OF THE CLUB
In those early days the only fixtures were friendlies, starting a tradition that has continued down the years - even after we joined the Warwickshire & Worcestershire League in 1952. Older members still remember playing rink (flat green) bowls against Solihull Police at Leek Wootten. The doors were locked at 10.30pm and the beer flowed until at least 2.00am (no drink-driving laws in those days!).
Then there were the duck suppers at Aston Cantlow with a double-decker bus for transport and Norman Morris on the violin for entertainment.
In more recent years, we competed annually for the Don Curry Memorial Shield against the West Midlands Travel in a pre-season warm-up.
Many of the early members are remembered in a humorous montage of caricatures (by an anonymous artist) that hangs to this day on the pavilion wall.
Amongst them, was Harold Birch who held the post of Secretary for seventeen years, even converting his spare bedroom into an office for the running of the Bowling Club (his wife was also Secretary of the Ladies Section). As well as displaying prowess at bowling, Harold was a former county table tennis player. Later, he became President and saw his long-held dream of building a pavilion become reality.
Rumour has it that, in the 1970s, that newly-built pavilion provided much-needed shelter to another member, who must remain nameless. He slept, washed and shaved in there for over three weeks without anyone else knowing at the time that it had become home-sweet-home!
Harry Jones is remembered with both pride and sadness. In 1957 he won his game, 21-2, against Brookvale Bowling Club and then unfortunately collapsed and died at the side of the green. His woods ("Harry's Bombers") have pride of place in a display case at the Club.
Chris Wilde was our larger-than-life "mine host" in the 1980s. Who can forget the splendid breakfast that he laid on in the lounge bar before the annual coach trip to the All England Championships?
And talking of the All England, we must note that the Olton Tavern has had a representative at the Championships in the form of Richie Dingley in 1989. Unfortunately, Richie was knocked out in the first round, but at least he can say "I was there!", which is more than most of us.
As previously mentioned, the pub was originally known as Olton Hall, keeping the name by which the site had been known since the late 18th century (although the present building dates only from the 1930s).
In 1983 the brewery sold the business and it became an American theme restaurant, The Newport Diner. The emphasis changed from a traditional pub, with pub games and draught beers, to burgers and bottled lager. Although the green and the Bowling Club survived, the after-match teas moved to the nearby Viking public house, where the landlord made us very welcome.
In 1987 the name changed again to the Baltimore Diner, but by 1989 it appeared that American diners had had their day and we returned (almost!) to our roots, finally becoming the Olton Tavern as we are today.
Click on the cup above to go to our virtual Honours Board and see the winners of all the club competitions over the years