Devizes Badminton Club History

The information in this article has  been reproduced with the kind permission of Rick Kibby, author of the book "Devizes Allsports" This book contains the full articles of the text below as well as the historical accounts of many other sports in the Devizes area. This book has helped the members of our club feel privileged that we are part of something that has so much heritage. We also realise that we are merely the custodians of the club and that it’s our responsibility to document and record its progress. We would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone that has an interest in sport and history.

Badminton in Devizes dates back to 1910, when, for a period of time, Devizes Badminton Club played in the Corn Exchange on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons with Reverend G. Bird recorded as the honorary secretary. Tracing the history is a little sketchy. However, prior to the Second World War there were two badminton clubs in the town - the Devizes Badminton Club with Secretary Mrs. Monkman and the imps Club (Young Conservatives) formed in 1928 with secretary Miss M. (Tommy) Bowsher. Both clubs used the Corn Exchange before and after the war and the two-court venue with the wonderfully high ceiling was considered at the time to be the best in the county. Records show Devizes Badminton Club in 1924 proving to be very successful and winning most of its matches during the early years. In 1948 the old Corn Exchange fee of 10/- per night was doubled to £1 by the Town council and in a letter of protest to the Wiltshire Gazette it was pointed out that the club also had to bear the additional nightly costs of 7/6 for lighting and 15/- for heating. Permission was given to the club by the Town Council to install its own special lighting in the Corn Exchange, and after the War, blackout curtains were collected to make one huge curtain that was hung between the courts creating a partition. Club nights held on Thursdays (Market Day) always followed the hustle and bustle of a busy day in the Corn Exchange with members having to clear the farmers' stands back against the walls, sprinkle the floor with water to prevent sliding on the French chalk-covered dance floor and then finally put up the nets in readiness for play!


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In 1950 the Wiltshire County Badminton Association was formed at a meeting held in the Council Chamber in the Town Hall, Devizes, and included local founder members - Devizes Town Badminton Club and Devizes Conservative Badminton Club. Matches were arranged with teams from Trowbridge, Chippenham, Salisbury and Swindon, and tournaments were regularly held incorporating mixed and ladies events. Leading light Mollie Billinge remembers them as very successful events, well worth the time and effort taken in the organisation. The day started 10.00 a.m. for club members, providing the lunches, teas and snacks throughout the day for about a hundred people, and went on until the tournament finished around 11.00 p.m. 1956 saw the decline and fall of the Conservative Badminton Club. However, the Devizes Town Badminton Club remained strong and at the 1957 AGM, held in The Black Swan, it was reported that the club's membership reached a maximum of 46, that five tournaments had been played and that of the 13 matches arranged, four had been cancelled due to petrol rationing. Owing to the lowering of the roof in the Corn Exchange in 1968, the club was forced to find an alternative venue. Fortunately the gymnasium of the Army barracks in London Road, Devizes, was made available.

With the departure of the 9th Ordinance Company in 1983, the club was once again compelled to find a new location suitable for badminton. Happily, an alternative venue at the Southbroom Sports Centre was found. For the latter part of the 1980s, league matches were played at Roundway Hospital, which must have helped the mixed team's fortunes, as they won promotion to the 1st Division of the Mid-Wilts League in 1987. Julian Withers, Andy Ellis, Frances Kibby and Shirley Nailor. In 2000 Richard Drury retired as chairman with Julian Withers taking over the chair and Nicky Wicks filling in most other roles. Gary Marshall joined from the Basics Club (a social group that played at Devizes Leisure Centre) and helped to reorganise the club, taking on the jobs of secretary and match secretary. In 2013 Hamish Devon took over from Julian Withers as chairman. To date the club has approximately 70 members that are split between Senior & Junior players and has three level double teams and a mixed team in the Mid Wilts league. The club has a good squad of strong senior and junior players that help support the club. The club continues to play on a Thursday evening at Devizes Leisure centre and runs coaching on a Friday for approx. 35 juniors. The club is now registered as a Premier Club (Sport Englands Clubmark standard) with Badminton England. This will hopefully help to promote badminton in the Devizes area and cement its future.


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