The development of the Bush Hill Park estate, began in the late 1800′s, with houses being built on both sides of the existing railway line. In 1905, a new clubhouse was built for the Bush Hill Park Club, and this building still houses the Club today.In the early days there was a veranda, which overlooked the croquet lawns, tennis courts and bowling green and there were also facilities for clock golf, archery and badminton.
The Club became the social centre of the estate with whist drives, card parties, concerts, and social functions throughout the winter. Membership in 1908 stood at 150 and subscriptions were three guineas for a married couple and two guineas for a single gentleman.
In March 1911, the club was purchased from the estate by Mr W D Cornish, for an unknown sum, and after carrying out various improvements, he asked the club for a rent of approximately £125 per annum. The Club Committee decided that they could not accept responsibility for this, and would not carry out the proposal submitted by Mr Cornish, and Club was disbanded on 31st March 1911.
Mr Cornish called an informal meeting of Bush Hill Park residents, held in St Stephen’s Hall on 26 December in 1911, to discuss the formation of a new club. It was resolved that all Bush Hill Park residents would be asked if they wished to become members of the new Club and to elect a committee and draw up rules. At the meeting on 4th March 1912, the Bush Hill Park club was formed, with Mr W D Cornish being elected as its first president.
Many meetings took place during 1912, forming committees, drafting new rules, and generally setting out future of the club. By the beginning of 1913, both bowls and tennis sections were well established and fixture lists were printed in the first club handbook. A copy of this handbook, probably the only one in existence, was held by Mrs Peggy Holmes, a member for many years. Sadly she resigned from the club in 1968, when the management committee turned down a proposed squash court, for which the full support grant had been obtained.
The Club continued to flourish for the next few years without any major changes taking place until October 1918. Then the Club obtained the tenancy from Mr Cornish, and were then able to alter some of the rules that had been laid down. In May 1919, the Club made another offer to Mr Cornish, to lease the ground and clubhouse for a further three years at £120 per annum with the option for a further seven years at £130 per annum.
The agreement was finally reached at £140 per annum for three years. In December 1920 the general committee approached Mr Cornish with a view to purchasing the Club outright, and it was proposed that a private limited company be formed, the capital not exceeding £3000, issued in fully paid £1 shares to be taken up by members. It was not until May 1922 that this proposal was carried by the committee, with a share capital of £3500. On 10th August 1922, the Club was purchased from Mr Cornish for £3500.
The Bush Hill Park Sports and Social Club Land Purchase Society was then formed and registered under the “Friendly Societies Act.” The Society carried out the actual purchase of the club by means of a mortgage with the balance being subscribed amongst members. They could then take the place of Mr Cornish as landlord, and were able to handle the financial side of the Club’s business.
No further events took place in the Club until 1930, when the society approved the building of the billiard room, at a cost of £1368. In September 1930, Mr H Honour took over the mortgage of the Club for the sum of £1600, and in October 1930 the Society accepted Mr Honour’s offer for an advance of a further £1400 mortgage at 5.5%.
There were no events of great historical interest for a number of years. The Club continued to grow and prosper under the leadership of the chairman, who was backed by some excellent and hard-working committee members. In April 1959, Alex Rudland, after whom some of the Club trophies are named, was elected chairman of the Club. In 1961, Mrs Honour, who held the mortgage of the Club died. After some complicated negotiations between the executors of the will, the Club Land Purchase Society, the mortgage was transferred to the club on payment of £3000.
That year the Club also purchased the piece of land on the west side of the Club, which enabled the bowling green to be enlarged to a full-sized green and the first fruit machines were installed in the bar and club became a limited liability company.
In 1965 the Land Purchase Society was finally wound up, leaving the Club in a position to manage its own affairs for the first time. Since 1965 many changes have taken place within the Club. It has gone from strength to strength, mainly due to the foresight and hard work of all the committee members, both then and now. It is thanks to them that we are able to enjoy the Club as it is today.
On April 23rd 2001 Sport England awarded the club £35,594 through the National Lottery Fund for Floodlighting to the Tennis Courts and reconstruction of the Bowling Green. Once again the efforts of many club members are to be acknowledged in preparing the groundwork for this successful application.
On 3rd Aril 2014 a successful application was made through Sport England for a £2000 award for Flood Relief after storms destroyed the roof of the smaller Bowls shed and damaged the roof of the large equipment shed. The money was used to re-roof the small shed and make temporary repairs, using tarpaulins, to the equipment shed. Further funding for the latter is still required due to the deterioration of the groundworks and the need for a replacement roof.
On 24th October 2014 a successful application was made to the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) which awarded the club an interest-free loan of £31,000, repayable over a period of 7 1/2 years, for as a contribution to the replacement of two tarmac courts with Tiger Turf, and the repair and spraying of three existing tarmac courts. The club committed to contributing the balance of £30,250 from its own funds.