A brief history
Horton Kirby B.C started life as Horton Kirby Paper Mills Sports Club, formed in 1926, on the other side of the viaduct to the paper mills, where Heathside is today. The sports ground comprised football and cricket grounds with pavilions, hard and grass tennis courts and, of course, a bowling green.
The Managing Director of the mill used to arrange for teams, consisting of himself and his friends, to play bowls, cricket and tennis against mill teams. The Mill Bowls Club team was particularly successful in those days, regularly beating the opposition which included other mill teams.
The mainstay of the team was George Haskins who was subsequently selected to play for England in 1959, and continued to do so through to 1962.
Alas, come 1968, with the number of Mill employees waning, the Paper Mill Sports Club was discontinued.
Local man Brian Smith bought the sports grounds from the Paper Mill, turning the tennis courts into a car park, letting the football grounds to Darenth Heathside, and utilising the existing bowling green, this is where Horton Kirby Bowls Club thrives today.
Fire destroyed the wooden bowls pavilion in 1987, but the club continued to use the remaining pavilion until a new brick- built clubhouse was erected in 1990. Unfortunately, fire again ravaged the remaining timber-built pavilion in 1997. This was never replaced, but in 2007 planning permission was granted for an extension to the existing brick-built clubhouse. And work started soon after, the result of which can be seen today.
The club has had many successes over the years, especially in recent times. These include Kent Championship wins at Singles in 1953 and 2011, wins in the Unbadged Singles in 1985 and 2008, 2 wood Singles in 2012. Pairs winners in 2005 and 2010, Triples winners in 2011 and Fours winners in 1957 and 2011. Horton Kirby won the club Championship of Kent (Gill/Cox Cup) in 1965.
Ladies honours include Kent wins in the triples in 2008, and the pairs in 2010. A mixed pair was runner-up in the National Final in 1989. Kent finalists in fours and winners in triples in 2015, fours and Triples finalists in 2018, Kent Senior fours winners in 2022.
Sadly, we lost Brian Smith in 2004, but he left a great legacy in Horton Kirby Bowls Club, and we thank him and his family for leaving the club and grounds to the members.