BackgroundThe 1970’s was a decade when lawn bowls was at its height. Most clubs in the Harrow area were flourishing. For many bowlers it was most frustrating that the season should end in September. It was about this time that women bowlers were making their presence felt and many clubs were allowing ladies to join as players. At this time there was only one indoor bowls club in the Harrow area. It was the opinion of many local men and women bowlers that Harrow needed another indoor bowls facility to cater for the increasing numbers who wished to bowl all year round.
Byron HallIn 1979 a number of senior bowlers in Harrow formed a committee and negotiated with the Harrow Council to include bowling as part of the facilities of the new Harrow Leisure Centre. The Byron Hall was designed as a purpose built international class, six rink bowls hall with a bar adjoining the green. The "Byron Indoor Bowls Club" was formed.
After two seasons the Council decided that the facility was underused and uneconomic. They proposed to increase the fees. The Club Committee unsuccessfully tried to oppose the increase and as a result the Council decided to withdraw the facility and converted the hall for badminton which at that time was gaining in popularity.
The Steering CommitteeAfter this blow, the ex-members of Byron IBC were not to be denied, and resolved to investigate the possibility of a purpose built indoor bowls club. A steering committee comprising George Wilkinson, Eddie Sullivan (a local bowls equipment retailer), Ted Moyle, Syd Lack, Frank Barratt J.J. Condon, G.F. Croft, M.G. Nutt and Mrs B.E. Shew, was formed.
With the help and support of professional advisers, solicitors Cusack & Co plus Council officers, on the 30th January 1981 the “Herga Indoor Bowls and Social Club Ltd” was incorporated to promote and operate indoor bowling in Harrow.
The venture was to provide a bowls hall and club which would be uniquely owned by its members through the issue of guarantees. The operation of the club, its profits and control would be in the hands of members via their guarantee and the articles of association, which would prevent outside takeover or control.
Planning & ConstructionThe design by architects the Julian Keyes Partnership was estimated at £405,000 of which £325,000 was set aside as the cost of construction. This cost was to be met mainly by Harrow Council (£150,000) and a bank loan from Westminster Bank (£145,000). The rest was to be obtained from interest free members loans (£100 per member), William Youngers Brewery, and the Sports Council.
As interest charges on the loans formed the major part of the running costs of the club, the Directors sought second loans from members to offset these charges. The loans were repaid each year as the club could afford. All loans, including members loans, have now been repaid.
Construction by Cignet Group Contractors started on 29th March 1984 and the club was open for play on 29th September 1984. The first Chairman of Herga IBSC was Frank Barratt with Nick Cervantes-Watson as the first President. The grand opening was on Wednesday 28th November 1984, with the opening ceremony performed by the Patron of the club, Eric J. Crosbie M.B.E., J.P.