Club History

Derwent Bowmen Club History.

From 1959 to 1961 a club called Haddon Bowmen shot at Coombs Lane Bakewell, by courtesy of the Duke of Rutland. They competed in the Derbyshire league in 1961. One of their members was Rex Baddeley, who worked for the Haddon Estate and he designed their club badge ; a deer walking uphill. When Rex went to Cheshire he formed a club, New Century Bowmen at Macclesfield ; their badge is a deer walking on the level. Finally he moved to South Wales where he formed Margam Archers with a badge of a deer walking downhill.

Rex’s move lost the club their ground, and four of the active members (Trevor Smith, Margaret Allison, John and Austin Quier) advertised in the local paper a meeting for those interested in forming an archery club. The meeting was held at the Square and Compass Darley Bridge. Eleven people eventually formed the first membership (J Ashton, A Darlington the pub landlord, Joe Hardy (local farmer), R Mais, J Snell, Mrs G Yeomans and T Morten).

The most experienced archer among these was Margaret Allison. Her brother was Mike Crook, (from Bowmen of the Peak, one of nine other clubs in Derbyshire at that time), who shot internationally for Great Britain in the early 1950’s and provided the Lady Visitor Trophy for the EMAS Regional Championships.

Archery Club Initial Meeting Minutes

Monday 9th April 1962 

  It was agreed unanimously that an archery club be formed at Darley Bridge,which with permission of the tenant, Mr J Darlington, would have its headquarters at the Square and Compass inn. This permission was given.

  1. It was then proposed by Mr T Smith and seconded by Mr J Ashton (without opposition) that Mr J Quier shall take over the combined office of Secretary and Treasurer.
  2. Two other committee members were proposed by  Mr A Darlington and seconded by Mrs M Allison these two to be Mr T Smith and Mr J Ashton.
  3. It was proposed that a minimum age of 12 years should be adopted and that any person under the age of 16 years must not shoot unless accompanied by an adult member and also have his/her parents/guardians written permission before they will be considered for membership. Carried unanimously.
  4. It was decided that the subscriptions should be; adults (over 18 years ) 25/-per annum Juniors (under 18 years) 12/6 per annum.

5a   9 adults and 2 juniors paid after the meeting.

6   It was agreed that the club should be known as “The Derwent Bowmen” and that temporarily it should have as its range the field belonging to the Square and Compass Inn Darley Bridge and no rent is required to be paid.

7    The funds shall be kept in the Westminster and District bank Darley Dale in a current account in the name of the Treasurer. The treasurer shall prepare annual accounts to the 8th April each year  at the AGM.

The meeting closed 10.00pm

The next meeting was the 16 April at the Square and Compass where it was decided to hold the first shoot on Thursday April 26th. A “general discussion no minutes necessary.”

We have no record of the round shot or the results.

On 18 June a meeting decided to keep the Square and Compass field as a practice field but to approach DCC for use of John Turner school playing field. If this approach failed (and it did) four other possible venues were identified including Matlock golf course and a meeting was held there in September to see if a suitable area was available.

It was also proposed to advertise the club at the DCC Social club.

At a meeting on 25 September it was agreed to hold a Club championship on Sunday October 7th with 1st and 2nd class archers to shoot an Albion, remainder to shoot a Windsor round. It was agreed to follow this shoot with a small field round. Sighters at 11.30 “prompt”, with a break for lunch after the target rounds.A field captain was elected, Mr J Dawson. Target fee for the shoot was set at 2/- with a 1/- colour sweep. (The club’s finances were based on subscription, target fee each time one shot, and entry fees for club shoots). Again we have no results..

The committee arranged to meet after the afternoon shoot on the last Sunday in each month. The prospect of an archery golf  shoot against Matlock Golf Club was noted.

On the 23 September a meeting “at the practice field Back of Beyond”  John Quier resigned as secretary due to pressure of work and Tom Morten took over. The committee was increased to 5 with the addition of Trevor and Margaret. Mr J Snell and Mrs R Mais were asked to be auditors.

At the 1963 AGM John Quier was asked to approach Mr Rochach, at the Holt Two Dales, about a field. On the 29 April 1963 he replied and offered his field free of charge and use of outbuildings for storage of equipment.There was further talk about the Golf Club Challenge. Stanton AC were invited to a field shoot on19th May 1963.

It was agreed to accept as an indoor range Wensley Reading Room and have a working party one evening a month. Equipment was to be purchased from Quicks but ”beginners bows and arrows are to be left until more new members are enrolled”. We know that Derwent competed in the Derbyshire league in 1963, coming last of the six teams who entered so they probably shot five away matches.

Tom Morten was the Field captain for the juniors at the County Championship in September 1963.

In October 1964 PPPB gave permission for change of use of the Reading room to archery HQ.

The 1964 AGM sent letters of thanks to Mr Rochach and Mr Hardy for the use of their land for shooting. Joe Hardy had given use of a field in Wensley Dale and this remained the club field for shoots, including league matches until 1969.” Electric fan heater, mine detector to find arrows and transport and catering were discussed.”

An EGM on July 11th 1964 designated every day a club target day “to enable all members to partake of the sport during off days, holidays and when convenient”.

February 1965 found the club making the Reading room sound and preparing for an Open field shoot on 11 April, a Big Game round. In 1965 the financial year and AGM were moved from April to December and January respectively and on 7th January 1966 it was reported that the hut had been broken into by two youths and tackle stolen and a court case was pending but this did not prevent the club discussing holding a field shoot. (This was not the last theft; after moving to Gold Close, in May 1981, 3 bows and 5 arrows were stolen after a break-in. In 1992 burglars stole electrical equipment, battery charger and compressor, and again in February 2005 aluminium club arrows were stolen, and recovered by the local school when the perpetrators were caught by staff threatening other pupils with the arrows.)

 In June 1966 it was agreed to accept crossbows.

The 1968 Field shoot was threatened by foot and mouth disease and Mr Hardy’s permission sought to hold the event. In fact the membership was so thin that a proposal to amalgamate with Belper AC was considered before being rejected unanimously (although the Derbyshire league was shot by the two clubs together).

1969 was much more positive ;it was agreed to ask for a GNAS handicap Improvement medal and proposals were made to enter the Derbyshire league independently, The club championships were held on Sunday 31 August and the handicap champs on the Monday (late bank holiday) followed by a clout in the afternoon, all at the field in Wensley Dale.

Norman Wilson was invited to be President and accepted.

At about this time there was much controversey in the Field archery world between two rival organisations. English Field archery association (EFAA) had grown out of American archers on the air bases and was affiliated to the American controlled International Field archery association. Its style used marked distances and clear shot ranges. An alternative organisation the British Field archery association (BFAA) was more rugged and had unmarked distances and more natural terrain. Eventually a merger of these bodies took place in 1971 but disaffected BFAA members went on to form the National Field Archery Society (NFAS). Derwent members were caught up in these politics and sided with the BFAA philosphy.

Derwent also involved itself with County organisation hosting the DCAA AGM at the Square and Compass in 1970. Pauline Smith produced a Magazine “Derbyshire Bowmen” for two maybe three issues full of helpful hints and scurrilous gossip.

The first ten years were peripatetic with at least three outdoor venues being tried and indoor shooting at the clubhouse in Wensley reading room. Finally, a field owned by Trevor Smith’s mother at Gold Close was leased from 1969 at £10pa increased to £20pa in 1976.The first shoot being on 8 June 1969 but as late as February 1970 some members wanted to search for other venues “because of the amount of work and expense”. By May 1970 JCB had offereded use of a levelling machine. It was agreed in July 1970 to buy a mower and the membership were divided into four working party groups to collect and re-erect the target shed from Green farm (Joe Hardy’s) and prepare the field for a JCB to level it then plough and grass it. This work continued into 1973.

In 1970 the bank changed to William Deacons at Darley Dale (not unrelated to the bank manager Brian Croshaw, joining the club?). A token of 2 guineas was presented to Mr and Mrs Hardy for providing a field for the club for six years. In April 1972 permission for water to be laid was approved and the sewer connection made by Tom Morten. In 1973 electricity was connected at a cost of £94.35 as the club dug the trench and laid the cable provided by EMEB.Payment of this bill left the club with £6 in the bank. Finalising the club house brought into question the use of the Reading Room which required a lot (£250/£300) of repairs. Despite the affection in which the room had been held, and the decoration of cave painting hunting scenes, the lease was surrendered to the trustees (who included Joe Hardy) w.e.f. 31/12/72. This of course led to a search for an indoor venue eg Matlock College were approached and one winter the sheds at Warrencarr were used. Evantually Lea Green was adopted.

It was at this time Tom Morten wrote and produced the Club toast;
“In a Derbyshire village named Darley
Not noted for frolic and fun
Some fellers ex-Haddon Bowmen
Thought archery must be begun
They put a notice in paper
About a meeting for any lad or lass
To be held one night in the clubroom
At a pub called the Square and Compass
The meeting was rate well attended
Although it were really no joke
You couldn’t see ote of the Chairman
For pint pots and great clouds of smoke
Trevor, Margaret and John were the leaders
And austin brought up in the rear
In discussion all about archery
And guzzling great quaffs of beer
They at last got the meeting to order
And showed bows and various things
And arrows with crestings and fletchings
And nocks where you fit in the string
They’d loan of a field to shoot in
And coal shed to stow all the gear
And cost of the club fees was decided
Some even paid up that same year
Club name and badges were’t next thing
And discusssion went on till gone ten
And that was the start of the rogues club
To be called the Derwent Bowmen
So on this our Tenth anniversary
I give you the toast of the club
Whatever you are doing in archery
Make sure you are not far from a pub
Ladies and gentlemen I give you a toast
The Derwent Bowmen”

And for this, his plumbing, field captaining, making the Grunging Spoon award for the Field shoot, and his coaching he was made a life member in 1977. When he ceased to produce the Spoon in 1973 David Hollinshead undertook to produce a Grunging Spatula.

Members were involved with club equipment and coaching at both Peak 74 and Peak 80 International scout camps at Chatsworth.

In 1971 the management of the club moved from the committee members to a general meeting.

1973 saw the sale of club ties to raise funds and the decision in July to reject crossbows.

Until 1975 a caravan was used to store equipment. A succession of target sheds and club houses (one needing  a new roof in 1979) have ensued with improving facilities.

August 1978 saw the purchase of a metal detector and a charge of 10p made for each arrow found.

18 August 1977 saw a have-a-go for 30 German teenagers and in May 1994, as part of Darley Dale twinning event with Onzain, for a French contingent. This tested the linguist skills of the coaches

 In 1980 the Council ceased to cut the grass and this was taken on by a local farmer at £5 a cut. By July 1980 it was recognised we needed our own grass cutters. Later in 1981 a written off car (red Renault 5?) was used to tow cutters round the field, but it kept bogging down, especially when the grass was wet. Eventually a second hand tractor was purchased, affectionately known as Bruce, and a 3-gang set of mowers. A car park was created in 1982 to the locals applause as we were using all the car-parking on Gold Close. In 1994 external security lights on columns were erected.

6 June1980 the field was the venue for the Derbyshire Tug of War Championships.

The loss of 4 new bosses and two used ones to rats was a bit of a disaster in 1980.

In 1981, with the memberships goodwill, Janet and Derek Woodhouse left to form GKN Bowmen Chesterfield, which became Bowmen of Chesterfield, in 1984 when they lost their ground at GKN sports club. Whilst homeless Derwent offered them use of our ground for their Handicap championships.

August 1986 saw a bitter dispute over the use of a postal vote in a decision as to whether the club should buy an arrow straightener.

1987 saw the 25th celebrations including the presentation of a trophy cloth from Don Richardson’s wife Anne. June 2002 saw the 40th celebrations

1988 saw the constitution in its present form thrashed out, building of the tractor shed and enquiries to buy the field.1989 Decisions on buying or hiring a strimmer.

A scare in September 1994 was the application for planning permission for residential development which was refused in 1995. As this coincided with consideration of more storage it created great uncertainty but did highlight that less than a quarter of the membership (of 62) were willing to help with providing improved facilities .

 When our landlady died in October 1996 the opportunity arose to purchase the ground. By deft negotiation and loans from the membership the purchase price was raised and the ground purchased in 1998. The ground is vested in trustees, being the longest serving club members at that time (with only one person per household allowed and the Secretary for the time being excluded). In April 2006 it was agreed that any replacement trustees would be based on the club nominating at least three people for the Trustees to choose from but not preventing the Trustees choosing someone else entirely.

The Junior club was formed in 1985 and affiliated to AAS in 1988.

A Junior rota to supervise Saturday afternoon shooting was started in 1986 but by 2000 the secretary was bemoaning that with only 7 volunteers out of 65 club members it did not show the necessary enthusiasm. In 2005 it was felt that the rota was not compliant with GNAS child protection policy and all parents were required to remain for the whole session and two members were to run each session.

In January 2000 a site clearance in Ashover, spotted by Terry Sims, gave us the opportunity to have an enlarged club house (31 x 8 metres). The prefab building was dismantled in Spring 2000 and the parts transported to Gold Close. The panels were stored whilst planning permission was gained (December 2000) (the only comment being from the parish council that the building “looked utilitarian and needed some climbing plants”). By June 2001 site preparation was underway and in July the club meeting was held on site to include the club members working on the building. This demonstrated the need for a crane to put the roof panels on.The August meeting was held in the half completed building. With an Awards for All grant to assist financially (£5000) we re-erected the whole structure and fitted it out as a clubhouse. Awards for All required us to have two signatories on the bank account.

By the end of 2002 work was complete but not without controversy as to whether we wanted an indoor shooting facility as well as a meeting room. Indoor shooting had been at Lea Green since 1979 and in 2000 cost £500 for 12 sessions with members paying £1 target fee.

Whilst all this went on it was agreed to have warm-ups before club shoots, a £50 domestic float, and to run two beginners courses after Chatsworth for the 50 applicants.

In April 2003 Peter Morris, National Judge, sent by GNAS, inspected the field from a safety point of view. This resulted in us applying for planning permission for fencing the shooting field off and restricting access to the ground by erecting and locking a gate at the entrance, at a time when there was a spate of illegal camping by Travellers. Despite separate letters to all our neighbours explaining what we were doing this upset some locals (who may have been responsible for sawing the lock off) and an application was made to declare the drive a public right of way. This has been resisted and is still an outstanding matter as we have appealed the County Councils decision to confirm the public access. We have offered a concessionary footpath under our control. In 2004 we surfaced the drive and car park.

In 2004 Bruce and the blades were sold off and a ride on mower purchased.

In 2005 the shooting line was rescued by laying Perfo-matting

In 2006 planning permission for safety boarding at the end of the field was granted and so it was no longer necessary to put out nets for long distance shooting.

The clubs first website was set up by Ken Moore in August 1997. In 2003 the name became and in  February 2004 we acquired the domain name

In 2004 the club colours were registered with GNAS as black with a gold badge and writing.

2004 saw the purchase of the first Danage boss.

In 2005 it was agreed to extend the clubhouse by 4 bays to give a 20 yard indoor range.

Clubmark was achieved in 2007 thanks to hard work by Allan Kealey.

A book resale system was set up to raise funds for a school in Zimbawbe in 2007 and this becane the chosen charity for the St Nicholas Boxing Day shoot in 2010.

In March 2008 Kevin and Virginnia Litchfield donated the Derwent Clock.

2015 saw the new clubhouse built.

2024 the clubhouse lighting was upgraded to all LED lighting to save on electric costs, but also to have brighter lighting of the range.