WHERE DID WE COME FROM?
In 1906 an American entrepreneur invented a machine for making concrete bricks – previously all were made by hand. These were made in moulds which had two side opening panels which swung open and quickly released the block, greatly increasing productivity. This opening system made the moulds look like birds flapping and hence was known as “winging”. When John Burns started the British company in 1908 in Hartlepool to sell the machines that made the briquettes, he therefore called the company “WINGETS”. The company prospered and over the years spread around the country until it was decided to bring all the manufacturing on to the one site and Strood was chosen and the factory opened in 1934.
With the factory a sports field was created, which was sited along Cuxton Road and opened in late 1934, complete with a large Sports Pavilion that “served teas on Sat/Sun afternoons”. It also boasted two football pitches, a cricket pitch, three tennis courts and a BOWLING GREEN which was “cut diagonally to ensure even running of the woods” – all quoted from an article in Winget Life, the company magazine, price 3 old pence (now equivalent to 1.25p).
The author was the Ground Steward Harry Hammond, who remained an integral part of Winget Bowling for many years and whose trophy is still played for annually. It was noted that 17,000 pieces of Cumberland Turf were used to form the rink, which makes each about 10 inches square (perhaps they had no wheelbarrows back then!)
The 26th June 1948 was a great day in our history – the opening of the new Winget Sports Ground in Watling Street where we still play. The opening ceremony was performed by the Lord Mayor and the Dean of Rochester, helped by the Medway Imperial Silver Band and the Young Soldiers of the Royal Engineers. The first ever bowl was sent down by the president of the Kent County Bowling Association. (Information gathered from the Winget.com web site (Prelude) and issues of Winget Life kindly donated by George Scott).
Our club seemed to have played continuously and quite happily from 1934 to 1988 (bar the war) when the minutes recorded an astonishing event – we bought a copy of the EBA rules! This was the start of bureaucracy and rules. It had an obvious and immediate effect on Committee Members as the “Refreshment Account’ lost £120 over that year. Cause was noted as a ‘proliferation of bar keys’. Was this the first self service shop in the Medway Towns?
1990 produced a Portacabin as the Ladies Changing Room, but we couldn’t afford electricity. Apparently we bought a hedge trimmer instead – well the hedges were there first! Funds started to pick up when the ladies joined as we opened our first Deposit Account at the bank. It paid 11.5% interest – it takes around 11.5 years to earn the same now.
1993 was full of excitement – Blaw Knox took over Wingets and wanted their staff to be able to use the rink – just because they owned it! A Mr McGinty joined the club – presumably his goat joined our maintenance crew? Our first Health and Safety notice arrived – “no more mixing rink chemicals in the kitchen sink” – how unreasonable, the tea never tasted the same again.
1994 – Diamond Jubilee Year and we celebrated with the EBA President and his team, enjoying a wonderful day – 72 members and guests, fine food and wine, presents all round and it only cost £172. We knew how to spoil people!
Elation slipped into devastation later in the year when our clubhouse was burned down and with it went our records and treasures (more later). After this came a lot of uncertainty with various sports on the ground having to pay their own way – rates, water, electricity etc. But this was short lived as the ground was sold, the new owners being the Church Commissioners. Thus began years of negotiations of lease, separation of utilities, rating inquisitions, licenses and another insurance claim this time on our own policy as the Tennis Club, now part of us, suffered as we had – their clubroom set alight in 2003. Out of all this has come a more stable organisation with a 10 year lease and we must thank our own administrators of the time for their perseverance and passion for the club and to the members for supporting them.
DEVELOPMENT OF THE CLUB 1994 – THE GREAT FIRE OF WINGETS
Our Diamond Anniversary, a great year of celebration and then a disaster, our beloved club room was razed to the ground by fire. By the time the Fire Brigade arrived most of the building was gone and the ashes of our history were blowing in the wind. The toilet block was saved being brick built and still stands, refurbished several times but over 60 years old. Thankfully our new owners Electrolux, had insured us and we could start again. Out of the ashes grew a new brick built clubroom with all mod cons which is now home to all of us and with the help of alarms, floodlights, CCTV, anti intruder paint and good fortune will hopefully serve us for many years.
Over the past 10 years much has been done to bring the rest of the club up to date.
Outside – new ditches around the rink, an automatic watering system, re-roofing of the toilet block (after further vandalism) and fitting of lights and alarms. The patio with tables and chairs, replacement of areas of walkway, a second container to safely house our rink maintenance equipment, professional work on the rink and surrounding hedges and new external security fencing to name but a few.
Inside – re-decoration of the toilets, a new large bar area, a new kitchen and library. All carried out ‘in house’ by our volunteer members.
Much to be proud of and our very grateful thanks also goes to the Tuesday morning maintenance crew made up of club volunteers who work throughout the year in all weathers to help to maintain all areas to the exacting standards of modern day life.