Quoits clubs in Harpenden

Reminiscences of Claude J Watler of 3 Cravells Road

The Malta Quoits Club - Rule-book. Mr C Watler was team-captain.
LHS collection
Malta Quoits Club rules - page 1
LHS collection
Quoits player in action
LHS collection

Following a Herts Advertiser announcement of a proposal to revive the title of “Ye Olde Harpenden Quoits Club” in connection with the club being formed to use the bed in Rothamsted Park provided by Mr F N Gingell, a reporter was put in touch with Mr Claude J Watler of 3 Cravells Road, founder of the original club.

“A Herts Advertiser reporter who saw Mr Watler this week soon discovered that the game of quoits in Harpenden and, in fact in West Herts can only be recalled in direct association with his name, for he not only founded the original club at Batford, formed when Mr T Spratley was licensee of The Malta, but himself provided the beds, pins, sleepers, clay and surrounding seats for onlookers at his own expense.  He himself built the beds in 1901-2 and captained the club which later changed its name to [“Ye Olde Harpenden Quoits Club”] for nearly twenty years.  the club was disbanded in 1924-5.  …

“Now in his seventy-ninth year, Mr Watler’s association with the game goes back to 1892-93, when he played for the Noel Park Quoit Club, Wood Green. …

“He returned to Harpenden in 1901, when he became carpenter in the service of the late Sir Charles Lawes-Wittewronge.  Quoits, it appears, was played in Rothamsted Park as long ago as 1908, as Mr Watler had the task of laying the quoits beds for the contest in connection with the flower show held in the Park in that year, for which a prize of £2 was offered by the late Mr F H Bridgeman.

“Besides founding the club at Batford, Mr Watler had a hand in the provision of a quoit bed at The Cock, High Street, and recalls that there were several clubs in being about the same time, including those at the Old Red Lion [68-72 High Street], the Gibraltar, Batford, and the Plough and Harrow [Southdown].”

Though Mr Watler had had to give up playing in the early 1920s, due to illness, he was taken to see the opening of the new bed in Rothamsted Park and said he would follow the fortunes of the new club with interest.  Mr Watler had a family of eight, but only “one son, Mr Cecil Watler shared his father’s love of the game”.

Extracts from a news-cutting, undated, in the History Society archives.

Comments about this page

  • Claude Joseph Watler was my Great Grandfather although I never knew him since he died 20 years before I was born. The son (Cecil) mentioned above was my Grandfather. I have a copy of a newspaper clip notifying his death. The clip is un-dated and gives no clue to the actual publication but my guess would be that it’s from the Herts Advertiser. I know that he died on 20 May 1949. Here is a transcript.

    “Father” of Harpenden Quoits Mr. C. J. Watler Dies at 79. MR CLAUDE JOSEPH WATLER of 3, Cravells-road, Harpenden, “Father” of the game of quoits in Harpenden died on Friday, aged 79. Born at Wheathampstead and educated locally, Mr. Watler lived for some years later at Wood Green where he began his association with the game as a member of the Noel Park Club in 1892-93, and won many prizes.

    “Coming to Harpenden in 1901, and setting up in business as a carpenter, joiner and master builder in Coleswood-road, shortly afterwards, he renewed his interest in quoits by founding the original quoits club at Batford known as “Ye Olde Harpenden Quoits Club” and building its beds with material he himself supplied. For many years he captained the club which rose to great heights in the West Herts League. It was disbanded about 1924-25. It was something of a tribute to Mr. Watler that when the game was revived in recent years at Rothamsted Park, the club then formed should revert to the title of the original club in its old style.

    “Besides his youthful interest in quoits, Mr. Watler was a footballer and played for several London teams as goalkeeper. He retired from business about twenty-five years ago. His wife died about 3 years ago. The present Harpenden Quoits club was represented by Mr. C. J. Brewer (hon. secretary) and Mr. J. Gunnell at the funeral service at St. John’s Church which preceded the internment in Westfield cemetery on Wednesday. The club also sent a wreath. Mourners were:………”

    By Dave Watler (24/02/2013)
  • Linda Evans has a new home for her website: http://www.ukquoits.org 

    Basically of Welsh interest but includes a list of international matches so Harpenden gets a mention.

    By Diana Parrott (21/04/2012)

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