The Hungerford Club, The Croft
The precise history of the Hungerford Club is sketchy in parts, but one thing is clear, it has come a long way from its humble beginnings in a back room, to providing some of the best bowls, tennis and indoor sports facilities to be found in any similar club in Berkshire today.
The Club is believed to have originated in late 1901 in the Church House (now known as Croft Hall) with its own private library and back room for billiards. There was a move to put a bar on the premises, but the Hungerford vicar of the day would not permit this so the present clubhouse on the other side of the Croft was bought from a Mr & Mrs Hermitage for the reported sum of £400 in 1929. It is believed that eight trustees of the day each contributed £50 to buy the property, and there was considerable opposition from Croft residents when a Billiards room was later added.
The Hungerford Club upheld all the traditions of ‘a gentleman’s club’ and it was not until the 1960’s that the controversial proposition was put to allow women to become associate members. Rumour has it that the proposition drew one of the largest audiences to any meeting held at the Club, and after heated debate the motion was passed by the narrowest of margins. Since then ladies have become full members.
The first major development of the Club occurred in 1974 when the ground floor of the Club was redesigned to provide a new bar in the traditional ‘Old English’ style. In 1978 the second stage took place when the lounge was extended and a new committee and function room was created.
By the 1980’s the changing facilities at the Sports ground were thought to he inadequate and it was decided to build combined changing rooms for the bowls and tennis players. The club decided to design the building itself, and much of the construction work was undertaken by Club Members.
The sports ground itself was owned by a Mr Wooldridge of Hungerford and from around 1910 it became available as a sports facility; in August 1918 it was handed over to the Club. An agreement at the time stated that should the club no longer find a use for it, the ground could revert to the Town and Manor of Hungerford.
For the moment, the ground provides an essential facility in Hungerford. The Bowls section joined the County Association in 1924 and has just celebrated its 80th Anniversary. The Ladies Section was established in 1945.
Hungerford Bowlers have brought numerous important trophies back to the town.
The indoor sports facilities include 2 full size Snooker Tables always praised by visiting professionals which has included World Champions Terry Griffiths, Ray Reardon, John Spencer, and Dennis Taylor.
The playing of Tennis started in 1918, the original grass courts have now been replaced with 4 outstanding hard courts with play being available virtually all year round. Coaching is offered to all ages and abilities. Success has been achieved in local leagues and the club has a thriving junior section with nearly 100 youngsters taking part.
In recent years the Club has spent many tens of thousands of pounds improving its facilities. Its new cellar is the best in the area and helped the Club gain the coveted CAMRA Southern Region Club of the Year award as well as being runner up nationally. In 2004 the Club installed state-of-the-art floodlights for two of its courts, further extending the playing opportunities for its growing membership.
With over 500 members, the Hungerford Club is a thriving community within a community and new members are always welcome, either as social members or in the Bowls or Tennis Sections. A warm welcome awaits you!