Official Phear Park Bowling club
A Bowls Club existed in Exmouth in the 1890s. This was part of the Exmouth Archery,
Croquet and Lawn Tennis club. It closed in 1927.
In 1909 the family of Sir John Phear who owned Marpool Hall and Marpool Park gifted
the lower part of the park to the people of Exmouth for recreational purposes.
The local council (Exmouth UDC) decided to lay a bowling green in the park which by
now had been renamed Phear Park, in a bid to attract visitors. The green was in the
lower end of the park where the skate boarding area is.
Within two weeks of the green being opened in 1911, a bowls club – Phear Park
Bowling Club had been formed. This was on 3 July, 1911.
The vast majority of founder members were business men in the town or professional
men. Phear Park was one of the first 20 clubs to affiliate to Devon County Bowling
The driving force behind the club was the Council Surveyor – Samuel Hutton. Mr Hutton
was club captain for 20 years. His other claim to fame was that he was the uncle of Len
Hutton the Yorkshire and England cricketer
In the first season, 1911, the new club played five games and won the last one –
Within 10 years Phear Park had won the County Trophy and a member, Harry Taylor
became county singles champion.
Club also won the county rinks title in 1921, and had another member in the final of
the singles on two occasions – he lost them both.
In 1924 an Indian business man Sir Ismael Sait,
President Col. Richard Hancock, donated a silver cup to the club.
This was known as the Calcutta Cup and was offered as a prize in an annual
a friend of Phear Park’s
Phear Park members and guests at opening in 1936
During the 1930s some of the finest bowlers in the south west entered the tournament.
In 1936 the Council decided to increase the number of tennis courts in the Park and they
built three courts on the bowling green .
A new green was laid on it’s present site which was at the front of Marpool Hall which
had been bought by the Council in 1935.
During the war Marpool Hall had been used to house evacuees,
and then American servicemen prior to D-Day.
After the war the club won the county rinks championship.
In 1950 the Council demolished the Hall and built a pavilion on the site. We are using
this today. Club membership fell after the war but grew during the 60s and 70s to
such an extent that the management committee put a ceiling on membership.
During the 1960s and 70s the green was considered one of the best in the south
west. It was one of the two fastest greens in the county. A number of county
matches were played here as well as the finals of county competitions.
Plans were made to lay another green but this was abandoned when a local
government reorganisation shifted responsibility for it from Exmouth to the East
In 1969 and 1970 Phear Park bowler Beatrice Harvey won
the county two wood finals. The first time a lady bowler
had won this title in successive years.
In 1971 Mrs Christine Frost (pictured right) became
county singles champion and went on to win the
national title. This was a remarkable feat as she had
only been bowling for six years.
Next season Mrs Frost represented England in the
inaugural UK championship but lost to the Welsh
champion 21 – 20.
Phear Park Chairman Harold Davis was elected
County President in 1979.
Park has a long tradition of nurturing young bowlers. A number of the founder members
were in their twenties.
Before the last war a young bowler named Bev Walker was brought here by his
father and played at Phear Park for 8 years before joining the Devon constabulary.
Bev Walker had an illustrious bowling career, an international,
county champion and President of the County Association in 1974.
Other young bowlers who set off on the road to bowls stardom at Phear Park
inclued Bill Davis, now at Madeira and more recently Craig Ralph and
Craig has been a Middleton Cup player for seven years and Chris was a Middleton
Cup squad member in 2007.
Chris was county under 25 champion in 2006 and Middlesex Under 25 champion.
Both bowlers have moved on to other clubs.
Phear Park is also proud to have one of the oldest players in the county - our
President Harry Wilkes, now 95 years young.
Harry was playing regularly up until two years ago. ( Sadly Harry Wilkes age 100
Passed away in 2016 )
One of the beauties of bowls was seen when his opposing leads in two matches
were a 10 year old and a 14 year old !
In the past 100 years Phear Park has had it’s highs and lows but we have always
tried to play the game in the right spirit and enjoy it – win or lose.
But, of course, we enjoy it more when we do win.
If you would like to know more,
Club President/Fixtures Secretary
Margo Allen Tel: 01395 276373