The Three Mile Cross Bowling & Tennis Club was formed on 30th June 1938 by the signing of a lease for a plot of land of about one acre at the rear of the village forge. The land was owned by Mr Fred Ford who lived in a house at the left of the present entrance and also owned and worked at the forge which was on the right hand side of the entrance.

The idea of starting the club is attributed to Mr Albert Cooke. Initially the site contained two tennis courts and a four rink bowling green. There were about 28 members in 1940 and the membership fee was ten shillings.

Three Mile Cross Bowling & Tennis Club – the original green, photo courtesy of David Hearn
Bowling Members in the early 1940s, photo courtesy of David Hearn

In 1942, Mr Bullingham offered the club a hut which was used as a pavilion and meeting room, and that summer the Berkshire County Bowling Association brought a team to play the club. This prompted an application for affiliation to the association. In 1946 a fifth rink was added to the green and the following year the Ladies Bowling Section was formed.

On the green, photo courtesy of David Hearn

By 1961 it was considered that a new pavilion was necessary and the club purchased on old Army Sectional Building form the Burghfield Ordnance Factory. This building, put into use in 1962, forms the shell of the present clubhouse. Mains electricity was added and a kitchen area was formed. By 1966 a small bar was introduced and toilet facilities were improved, followed by a veranda along the front of the pavilion in 1970.

Use of the tennis courts declined and by 1972 all references to tennis were omitted and the club became known as Three Mile Cross Bowling Club.

Following the death of Mrs Ford, the club was offered the opportunity to purchase the ground and premises. The purchase, together with a Deed of Easement giving the club a permanent right of way into the premises in exchange for certain parking rights, was completed in 1974.

Further improvements over the next five years followed and the club benefitted from new toilet blocks, changing rooms, a new bar, a new kitchen and general redecoration.

The green was extended to six rinks during 1981-82 and a new ditch, drainage and a wide path were added. A few years later the pavilion roof was re-felted and the front of the building altered to incorporate the veranda in the main room. Following the installation of the water irrigation system for the green, a bar store was added and a timber shed was converted and modernised to form a visitors’ changing room.

Despite refurbishment, the clubhouse was in need of replacing, especially the roof. In May 1989 it was decided that the pavilion would be demolished and a new clubhouse would be built. During the previous 50 years money had been set aside in a building fund. The fund, combined with significant fundraising initiatives and offers of loans and donations from members enabled the build to go ahead.

The new clubhouse was officially opened in June 1991 and improvements made to the changing rooms the following year. An automatic watering system for the green was also added and work started on the paving on all sides of the green. A shed to store all the bowls equipment was erected in 1993 and full central heating was installed in the clubhouse at the end of 1994. The kitchen was updated four years later, incorporating a dishwasher and new oven.

In 1998 the green was severely affected by a combination of wet weather and an attempt to level the green with top dressing. It became unplayable and in 1999 the members approved a decision to have a new top to the green. The old turf was removed and the surface was re-sowed in sections with ‘liquid sod’ – a mixture of fertiliser/seed, blue paper mache and water. The club had to miss playing on the green for a season but thanks to the generosity of other local clubs, most fixtures were completed. The green was managed by the club until 2004 and then professional contractors were appointed. Club members help to regularly cut the green and it is now recognised as one of the best greens in the area.

During 2004, the old shed which had served as a changing room, store room and greenkeeper’s shed was replaced by a purpose built brick building and brick pillars for safety barriers were built. In 2007 a new Welcome Board replaced the old scoreboard at the club and in 2010 the watering system for the green was replaced.

More recently, in 2019 a new men’s changing room was erected, followed by a major refurbishment of the clubhouse, changing rooms and bar. In 2021 the club invested in re-surfacing the grass car park to ensure that it can be utilised by members and visitors all year.