THE ISLE OF WIGHT COMMUNITY CLUB

Where did we come from?                 Where are we going?
 

The Isle of Wight Community Club has its origins in the Plessey Cowes Sports and Social Club whose employee members lived all over the Island.

In 1984 the Isle of Wight County Council, who had acquired the J. S. White's Sports Ground some six years previously, were looking to offload its responsibility for the site to a community based sports and social club.

At a meeting held at Cowes High School interested parties debated the best use for the twelve and a half acre site. Three or four interested groups put forward proposals. The County Council agreed to lease the grounds to the Plessey Club. The Milne Memorial Sports Ground Co. Ltd, a company limited by guarantee, was formed to acquire the lease and delegate the day-to-day running of the facilities to the Plessey Club. The Local Authority and the Island Sports Council were represented on the Milne Board along with Plessey representatives. The Club was called the Plessey and Isle of Wight Community Club. Membership was open to employees and ex employees of Plessey Cowes and J. S. White and to residents of the Isle of Wight.

When the Club took over the site they found that the two bowling greens had trees growing on them. The cricket and football pitches were used for hay making. Of the six tennis courts only one was barely playable. The others had trees and brambles growing all over them. The main driveway, where we are now able to park cars and still have safe two-way traffic was reduced to one-way traffic.

Club members spent the first year clearing away the scrub to see what they had before bringing in contractors to relay the bowling greens and start to bring back the cricket table. Members spent over a week installing a false ceiling in the existing pavilion as well as having builders in to remove some walls to create more useable space.

The Club borrowed 65k to extend the Club House with the provision of an additional lounge and bar. Shortly afterwards they installed a one rink petanque terrain that has now been increased to a five rink facility. 10k was spent building an outdoor bowls pavilion adjacent to the two greens.

One of the Committee lobbied the local bus company to put a bus stop in Park Road, outside the club. We now have a half-hourly bus service right to the club. The bus stop is still known by the bus company as the Plessey Club.

With Lottery funding assistance, the club was able to install a four rink indoor bowls facility at a cost of 330k. This was only made possible by a few members loaning the club 100k to augment the lottery grant.

From its inception the club has not only joined East and West Cowes communities but has encompassed the whole of the Island. From inception the club has been open to all residents of the Isle of Wight, not just 'Plessey Employees'. For a brochure and application form just telephone our manager on 292238 or call in at Park Road, opposite the Skate Board Park, to see for yourself the facilities that we offer.

The Club Management Committee encourage community involvement. On the facilities side we have accommodated the Cowes Youth Forum with their Easter Egg Hunt and Halloween events. The Local Scouts have organised Cyclecross events here. The I.O.W. Short Mat Bowls Association use our Committee Room as do the I.O.W. County Bowls Association. Cowes branch of Weight Watchers meet on a Tuesday late afternoon. Local schools use our facilities for sporting activities. Cowes Week Bowls Tournament, use our greens for their preliminary rounds. With our full catering facilities local schools and youth sports groups use our facilities for their fund raising events. Because of the high standards of our playing surfaces, maintained by the recognised professional, Andy Butler, the I.O.W. County Bowls Association are again using our Greens for their Southern Counties competition. The I.O.W. County Cricket Association are again using our facilities for their M.C.C. match, this year being played on Tuesday the 22" July. As one of the venues for the Youth Cricket Festival the club will also be providing facilities for their awards presentation at the end of their tour. Our Football pitch is in great demand as are the Petanque Terrains for I. 0. W. events.

The club has gone from being a factory sports club to being the only club on the Island able to offer such a wide range of activities. Our brochure, obtainable from the club, reports that we have the following activities at Cowes: Bingo, Bar Sports, Line Dancing, Social Cribb and Bridge, League Pool, League Darts, Ballroom and Sequence Dancing, Over 60's Club, Disco, Duos and Dance, Charity Shows, Pantomime, Firework Display, Indoor Bowls, Outdoor Bowls, Cricket, Football, and Petanque. The club facilities are open to all residents of the Island upon application. 

The club encourages youth participation and currently gives instruction for Bowls, Cricket and Pool. The club has recently encouraged family members' children age 14 years upwards to partake in monthly sport/social activities. It is hoped in the near future to expand this activity.

With the exception of the Lottery Grant, and a small contribution from the Local Authority, all capital expenditure has been carried out from funds generated by the club.

Currently the Cedar Shingle roof of the original pavilion is being replaced at an expected cost in the region of 40k . The resurfacing of our car park and the refurbishment of the inside and outside of the Club House are also on the agenda. We are currently discussing with the Isle of Wight Council a new longer term lease that will be needed to secure finance for these projects.
 


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