Bowls Club faces an uncertain future


Rye Bowls Club is under threat of closure because Rother District Council is withdrawing the funding that maintains the bowling green. The club is urging people in Rye to show their support, get involved, and come along to their open day on Sunday April 28.

The club was opened on April 29 1982 and has organised the open day to celebrate and encourage people to come and see how much fun it is to play bowls. The day is free and is on Sunday April 28 from 2pm – all you need is a sensible pair of flat shoes and the ability to learn something new from the experts. You will find the club at The Salts, Fishmarket Road, Rye TN31 7LP.  Parking is available in the nearby car parks.

Rye Bowls Club

People often think of bowls as being a sport for the older generations but this is a misconception because at bowls’ tournaments you will see teams with players as young as twelve. Bowls is definitely a sport for all, regardless of age, sex or physical ability. The gentle pace and lack of contact enables children of all ages to play alongside adults. It suits people of different abilities and fitness levels on the same team.

Although the average bowler is aged over fifty-five, in the British international teams there is barely anyone over forty. There are teams for under-25s and under-18s as well. Rye Bowls Club has a successful record in the Mermaid League which is sponsored by the Mermaid Inn. The Rye team has been runner-up for the last two years.

The club has the support of Rye Chamber of Commerce. Jane Brook Chair of Rye Chamber of Commerce said: “When we became aware of the challenges facing the Bowls Club, we scheduled a meeting with the leadership team, followed by discussions with the president and other key stakeholders to explore potential avenues for support. We have identified the Sussex Community Foundation as a possible funding resource and are collaborating with the club to plan a fundraising event in the upcoming summer months. The club’s financial target for annual operations is £13,000, and anyone interested in contributing to fundraising efforts or exploring sponsorship opportunities is encouraged to contact us at”

Rye Bowls Club

A spokesperson for Rother District Council explained the funding decision. “In order make necessary savings and help close the £3.8m funding gap we are facing, we are in the process of procuring a reduced grounds maintenance contract. We have met with all sports clubs to inform them that under the new contract, which will start in December 2024, we will no longer carry out fine turf work on sports pitches and bowling greens as it is no longer affordable. To support clubs in continuing their sports, we have offered peppercorn licences or leases of the land they use so they can manage the grounds maintenance themselves. Existing levels of ground maintenance will remain in place until November 2024. From December, if clubs are unable to take on the maintenance of their grounds, the grass will be cut according to recreation standards only.”

The benefits of playing bowls are:

  • improved fitness.
  • improved co-ordination and skill development.
  • increased confidence and self-esteem.
  • enhanced mental well-being.
  • friendship and support.

What can YOU do to help?

  • Come and support the Open Day and find out more
  • Local businesses  – can help by offering sponsorships
  • Everyone can encourage others to get involved

Please contact the Bowls Club on 01797 280457 for any further information

Image Credits: Kt bruce .

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  1. Rather than spending its recent £60,000 grant on an unnecessary feasibility study and campaign to persuade Rye businesses to pay a levy for town improvement projects, why doesn’t Rye Chamber of Commerce donate £13,000 of this money to the Bowls Club? In my opinion, it would be a far better use of the money rather than see it given to some consultancy, as Rye Chamber says it’s going to do. There is no way that an expenditure of £60k can be justified on a consultant’s report and ‘campaign’ when all that’s needed is an explanatory letter delivered to the town’s businesses — and perhaps a meeting organised at the community centre to discuss the levy proposal. Rye Chamber has a role to play in the town but on this occasion it needs to rethink its priorities. With both youngsters and oldsters needing more access to outdoor activities, it would be a tragedy if the bowls club had to close. It seems somewhat hypocritical of an organisation that’s just pocketed (I think) £85,000 in levelling-up cash to say it’s exploring potential avenues for support and to call for donations from others.

    • I’ll leave it to the chamber to give you a proper reply but in a nutshell this levelling up funding can only be spent on what it’s given for – don’t blame the chamber for the rules, instead congratulate them for taking the first step towards a potential long term plan for improvement. Whilst it may or may not be successful at least the chamber are being proactive in the absence of any other organisations

  2. Hear, hear, Simon.
    I think you’ve got entirely the wrong end of the stick, Brendan. Let’s not disparage an organisation whose members and leadership are trying very hard to improve Rye – on a voluntary basis and in addition to running their own businesses…

  3. I hope that the Open Day is a big success and encourages local people to think of taking up bowls, I have long enjoyed the sight of people enjoying a game of bowls on the Salts and I think it would be much missed if it were to close. The benefits of an open air sports facility situated in the centre of town and accessible to all are obvious so I offer our full support to the Chamber and others in this endeavour.

  4. I share Rye Conservation Society’s (David Bookless) hopes and support. It is good to see the photo of a young man playing at the club. In the 1970’s, as youngsters, we used to “pay and play” on Hove seafront, in our lunch breaks. It was good for us and good income for the bowls club.
    Some people might not be able to attend the open day on Sunday.

    Maybe the chamber of commerce could help in respect of a website, marketing and how to increase revenue? Other local bowls clubs have welcoming sites with some offering pay and play and a licensed bar!!!


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