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Originally researched & written by League Sec Alan Wood Dec 2016

Updated following changes recorded at subsequent AGMs

When the league began is not known but from the records available it seems that the league comprised most of the clubs competing now together with one or two that have since closed or withdrawn from the league.

Thanks to Don Bridges and the late Charles Furzeman (sadly Dec 2018) for providing a list of winners that show the league was up and running in 1983 when Wellington were the winners that year.

However, it may be that the league was established before then?

The format of play was 4 rinks of 4 and a single division until 1995 when the running of the league was taken over by Tony Whitehead of Hinkley Point Bowls Club.

From 1995 the format of play remained the same but the teams were split into two divisions and a set start time of 6.30pm on Thursday summer evenings during June and July was established with a promotion and relegation procedure put in place.

Prior to this, there was no set programme of fixtures and teams could play at any time on any day. In consequence, the running of the league was haphazard and unsatisfactory.

The 4 rink format and two divisions continued until 2004 when due to bereavements and a general drop in membership in some clubs it became difficult to field 4 rinks of 4 and there was just one division in 2005.

A proposal at the 2005 AGM to have a 3 x 3 triples format was carried with good support and clubs could enter two teams if they wished.

In the event, 7 clubs entered B teams which meant there were 2 divisions of 9 teams.

Div 1 the 9 existing clubs and Div 2  7 B teams plus Chard and British Cellophane.

Currently (2024) there are 13 member clubs providing 28 teams, 14 in division one, 14 in division two.  With Chard rejoining and Ilminster joining for the first time in 2023 that has increased the distance some cteams will travel. The WSBL teams are situated between Chard and Ilminster in the southeast and the coast of Bridgwater Bay to the West  & Burnham-on-Sea to the north.

The individual clubs past and present in the West Somerset League (WSBL ) are as follows:                  
Current members **

            British Cellophane               original member        Withdrew when the club closed in 2012

            Bridgwater **                         Joined in 2010          B Team 2013   C Team 2020 

            Burnham – on – Sea **       original member        B team 2006

            Chard**                                 original member        withdrew 2009 rejoined 2024

            Donyatt                                  original member       left in 2014

            Eastover **                            original member      left 2005  re-joined 2014  entered B team 2017 but withdrew in 2018.   
                                                           A team withdrew in 2019  re-joined in2020 B team rejoined 2023

            Hinkley Point                         original member        left  when the club closed 2005

            Ilminster                                Joined 2024

            Minehead **                          original member       B team 2006

            North Petherton **                Joined when the club opened in 2006 and entered 2 teams A & B. 
                                                          C team 2010            

            Taunton **                             original member        B team 2006  C team 2015 D team 2019 (D team withdraw 2021 but rejoined                                                               2024)
            Taunton Deane **                 original member        B team 2006  C Team 2019

            Victoria **                               original member        B team 2006  B withdrew 2014

            Watchet **                             original Member       left 1987  Re-Joined 2014

            Wellington **                         original Member       B team 2006   C team 2017         

            Williton **                               original member        B team 2021

Annual Membership is £30 per team and has been this amount for the past 10 years and more.

The league has been grateful in the past for generous sponsorship from time to time by Whitehead Bowls of Bridgwater and Brian Holmes of Williton BC Stockleigh Farm Meeth.

At the 2021 April EGM it was agreed the League would temporarily become Open to both men and ladies. At the 2021 October AGM it was agreed this rule change would apply in 2022 as well. At the 2022 AGM the open rule was permanently introduced. 

The League is indebted to the late Richard Milton formerly of Hinkley Point and then North Petherton for his services as Chairman for 11 years from 2002 until he stood down at 2012 AGM when Roland Bath took over. Sadly, Richard died suddenly the following year. A fine bowler and much missed.

Also, to Leon Bass League Secretary for 16 years from 1995 until standing down at 2011 AGM when Alan Wood was elected. Alan remained in post until 2018 when he was replaced by Mark Reeve from Taunton Deane BC. Alan and Leon both graciously accepted the offer of the non-executive role of Honorary Vice-President, which was conferred on them unanimously during the 2018 AGM in recognition of their tremendous service to the league. If it wasn't for their drive, enthusiasm and knowledge I doubt the WSBL would exist today. 

Robert (Bob) Toller, League Treasurer who took Office in 2003 when Steve Matthews passed away, remained in post until his passing in December 2017.

At the 2021 AGM Roland Bath resigned as Chairman, Don Bridges agreed to take over on a temporary basis with John Swayne becoming Vice-Chairman, again on a temporary basis. 

The current Treasurer is Mark Reeve who replaced Bill Warnett in 2023,  with Jay Merrell taking over from Mark as Secretary. At the 2023 AGM these role changes were conformed as was the appointment of Don Bridges as chairman and John Swayne as vice-chairman.

Updated January 2024