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Clarence Davey - 1873-1961

Founder of Henleaze Bowling Club

Clarence Herbert William Davey was born in Australia in 1873, and somewhat against the normal flow of human traffic, came to Bristol in 1896, starting an agency business in one room at 35 Queen Square. He was joined in the first week by William Scantlebury (aged 18). William had come up from Fowey in Cornwall to seek his fortune and had a grounding in shorthand and bookkeeping. They started as agents for glazed earthenware goods but soon changed to steel pipes, and in 1897 formed the Metal Agencies Company (M.A.C) bringing steel pipes down from Halesowen by barge and storing them at the rear of No35.

Business prospered and they soon took over the whole of No35. In 1905 he bought 8 Henleaze Avenue and in 1912 moved to a bigger property at 29 Henleaze Gardens. Trade must have been good, because in 1918 he had moved to 43 Grange Court Road. In 1920 (or thereabouts) he joined Canford Bowling Club and quickly recognised the opportunity to mix business with pleasure. Clarence (ever the front man) persuaded three other Canford members to form a new club which would play on a green that he had built opposite his house. Henleaze Bowling Club was born, and commenced play in June 1928. Membership was by Invitation Only, and each member paid for a 10 share in the club.

By 1930, M.A.C occupied 33-34 Queen Square as well as the original property, and had an additional showroom in Colston Street. Clarence also had a holiday house built on the Headland at Newquay, and his Cornish partner moved to Wanscow Walk in Henleaze, from his a semi at 3 Clifton Park. It is believed that the billiard table that Clarence had at his house in Newquay was only used for playing carpet bowls!

Clarence was the President of Henleaze Bowling Club from its inception in 1928 until 1949, when he handed the reins to H C Hayes. Clarence was no mean bowler, having been a member of the four that won the Somerset County rink title in 1930, and the City and County of Bristol Fours in 1940. He was also the club Singles Champion in 1932 and 1939, won the Fixed Jack in 1933 and 1936, and the Championship Pairs in 1943. His wife also played being a winner of the Club Pairs (later the Handicap Pairs) in 1932.

In 1938 Clarence presented a cheque for 2,000 to the club, together with a strip of land to build the present clubhouse. The original wooden construction was built on what is now the car park, at the west end of the green. To put the gift in context, at that time a new 3 bed semi in Henleaze could be purchased for approximately 500!

During the war years Clarence served as Sheriff of Bristol for two years.

The post-war period was one of rapid expansion for M.A.C, now the largest builders merchants in the South-West, with outlets also in Exeter, Plymouth and South Wales. They moved from Queen Square and Colston Street to Winterstoke Road incorporating offices, showroom and a distribution depot, thus fulfilling another of Clarence's dreams.

He and his wife Edith retired to a house "Westward Ho!" at Camps Bay, Cape Town and there they were regularly visited by his old friend and partner William Scantlebury and his wife Ada. Edith died on 8th June 1961 and nine days later, on the 17th June, Clarence also passed away; both were aged 88. He had outlived his partner William by 18 months. The ashes of both Clarence and Edith were brought back to Bristol, and buried next to the grave of his former partner.

(Thanks to Roger Stevenson, for his work in researching the history of Clarence Davey)

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