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
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
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
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.