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Crawley & District Bowling and Lawn Tennis club

Percy Nightingale captures pipe-puffing old codgers on the bowling green while stout ladies do battle on the tennis courts of 1920s Crawley.

Amateur film 1927 11 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Screen Archive South East


Percy Nightingale's remarkable film opens with elderly and portly members of Crawley's Bowling Club playing on a municipal green, whilst constantly puffing on pipes and cigarettes. Occasionally, they lark about for the camera. Meanwhile, the adjacent tennis courts are busy with women of all ages, playing singles and doubles matches while dressed in the tennis fashions of the time. Percy returns to filming the antics of his bowling mates for the remainder of the film.

Amateur filmmaker Percy Nightingale made numerous films featuring his family throughout the 1920s and 1930s, often showing them enjoying outdoor sports and pastimes like bowls, croquet, golf and tennis – activities that were becoming increasingly popular during the inter-war years. This unique snapshot captures family and friends at the Crawley & District Bowling and Lawn Tennis club, playing at a purpose built municipal recreation ground, created in the 1920s, in the town's Memorial Gardens. Located near the Three Bridges Road, the actual location of the green, clubhouse and tennis courts is difficult to find today. This is almost certainly due to the extensive post-war redevelopment of Crawley.