FOND memories came flooding back for World Bowls Champion Tony Allcock as he recalled childhood holidays spent in Clacton.

The 15 times world titles holder visited the resort with his family in the late 1950s and early 1960s, travelling down from their home in Leicestershire.

Part of those holidays involved his father playing on the hallowed turf at the bowls club in Collingwood Avenue.

Mr Allcock Snr signed in and was permitted to take part provided he wore a shirt and tie at all times, kept his family under control and kept his daily visitor’s pass on his person to show if required.

“I would have been about five-years-old when I first sat around Clacton Bowling Club green,” remembers the 63-year-old, now Chief Executive of Bowls England and winner of 11 National Championship titles.

“I was only allowed within the parameter of the green if my mother kept me perfectly silent and I sat on a Victorian slatted bench. The thatched roof pavilion provided an excellent backdrop to the sun trap in which we frequently sat.

“We picnicked with refreshments and snacks bought in the town centre before arriving at the club and this was a necessity as women and children were not allowed in the confines of the pavilion – not even to use the toilet facilities.

“Despite that inconvenience, we thoroughly enjoyed our time at Clacton Bowling Club. It was an integral part of the family holiday as it was important for my father to take a break from the family grocery business and it was the chance to enjoy seaside bowls.

“I am not sure that at that tender age I was sufficiently knowledgeable about the sport to fully comprehend all rules and regulations, but it was the start of the learning curve I was about to undertake. The strict conditions at the club were accepted as part of the culture in those days.”

Mr Allcock was reminiscing with Clacton Bowling Club President David Mitchell-Gears, who is also chairman of Bowls England.

They regularly meet up at the headquarters in Leamington Spa and at other meetings around the country.

“Even today, I recollect Clacton Bowling Club and its thatched roof pavilion as clearly as though it was yesterday,” he added.

“In 1960, little did the club members realise that for several summers they were visited by a little boy who would go on to become 15 times World Champion in their favourite sport.”

The family stayed in Mrs Basset’s guesthouse with its many pet rabbits kept in the summer house, enjoyed going to the pier and amusements, the beach and paddling in the warm sea.

Many families from the Midlands area descended on Clacton during the July holiday fortnight when the factories and businesses closed down.

Mr Allcock visited the club a few years ago to play and it brought back many of those happy memories.

“Tony had to admit that many things had changed and there had been considerable modernisation,” said Mr Mitchell-Gears.

“He said he received a very warm welcome and the members were very friendly – children and youngsters are even allowed on the pavilion and on the greens now.”

Clacton Bowls Club is beginning to prepare for the new season, and anyone interested in joining should call 01255 220878.