History of the club

It is not known exactly when the club was formed but it was established at the Sportsfield in 1909.  It is possible that the club existed for some years before that but our Centenary is dated from 1909.  The earliest minutes recorded are dated from 1913 at which time the club was flourishing and had a committee consisting of a President, Treasurer, Secretary plus 4 members and a Handicapping Committee.  During this time the club had 2 lawns on the western side of the Sportsfield and a hut for equipment.  A third lawn was added in 1920 at a cost of £36.15s and a rack for members mallets for which a charge of one shilling per annum was made.  In 1922 the hut was purchased from the Sportsfield Trustees for £10 and in 1926, after a programme of fundraising, a small pavilion was erected at a cost of £140.

During this period the club played Association Croquet but Golf Croquet was also beginning to win a following.  The 1921 minutes record that Bowls was also permitted on the lawns in the evenings and Bridge was played in the new Pavilion at a charge of 6d per head per session.  Also, in the 1930’s, the Club held its first inter-club Golf Croquet Tournament playing Worthing and Bognor amongst other contestants.  In 1939 – not the most auspicious date – an American Golf Croquet Tournament was also instituted.

During World War 2 membership declined and in 1941 there was doubt as to whether the club would survive.  However, membership slowly increased and the popularity of the Bridge games in the pavilion meant that the cover charge was material in regaining solvency.  By 1943 Golf Croquet was being played by the majority of the members and only one lawn was reserved for Association Croquet on Monday afternoons.

After the war the Club Pavilion was rented out to Littlehampton Football Club during the winter.  In 1954 the rent was £6 and that arrangement remained until the Sportsman building was built in 1971.  In 1981 the Pavilion was re-roofed at a cost of £495 and subscriptions were increased to keep pace with inflation and maintenance charges.

In the early 1990s the Sportsfield Trustees agreed to sell land on the western side of the field – mainly the croquet lawns – for development.  This was done to clear a substantial overdraft and to provide financial stability needed to secure the long-term future of the Sportsfield.  As a result, a considerable sum was invested and professionally managed to support the day to day costs of running the Sportsfield. This proved to be of very substantial benefit to all the clubs, whose members currently pay a percentage of the maintenance costs.

So, in 1995 the Croquet lawns were relocated to the north-eastern boundary of the Sportsfield and the club obtained 5 lawns of varying quality, two being particularly wayward.  The Pavilion, dating back to 1926, had to be dismantled and lay as a pile of timber one winter.  However, confounding the sceptics, it was triumphantly re-erected, albeit somewhat smaller. In 1996 membership improved to 44 members and the Club began to use secondary balls to enable two games on the same lawn to be played simultaneously.

In 1996 the South East Croquet Federation established a Golf Croquet league open to clubs in Kent, East and West Sussex, Surrey and South London.  In the years since, Littlehampton has taken part every year and won numerous trophies.  The Club also now enters teams into various annual Tournaments held at Sussex County each year and in addition friendly matches with other clubs are played throughout the season.

In 2017, following several years of saving and fund-raising, a spacious new timber Pavilion was erected with a large meeting area, a fitted kitchen using calor gas, and an accessible toilet.  Solar panels for basic electricity were added to the roof and these power a fridge, microwave, tea urn and lighting.  The old wooden hut was dismantled and has found a new home in Devon.

Membership in 2023 is currently around 50 full members and 4 social members.  The club is very active socially.  Among the events held throughout the year are BBqs,  Picnics , Coffee mornings, Skittle Evenings, Shuffleboard and Charity events, culminating in an End Of Season Awards Lunch.