The Bowmen of Bruntwood was formed in 1950 by Trevor Francis, at his flat on Cheadle high street in Stockport. He’d been a glider pilot in the Second World War, and a resulting back injury meant he couldn’t play contact sports like rugby. So archery it was.
From the start, the club, with only a small number of members, was successful, winning the Lancashire and Cheshire Archery Association championship and regularly providing team members for inter-county shoots – and still does.
The Bowmen of Bruntwood was affiliated to the Grand National Archery Society in 1952, and the club celebrated its 50th anniversary as an affiliated archery club in 2002.
Archery was beginning to develop as a modern sport during the 1950’s, with the Accles and Pollock tubular steel bow coming into use, replacing the Victorian longbow and the American flat bow, and aluminium arrows replacing wooden arrows. Through the 1960s, the mainly wooden recurve bow with laminated limbs was developed, and through the 1970s, the recurve take-apart bow, with metal riser (handle) and laminated limbs, came into common use, along with stabilisers, pressure buttons and clickers. In the late 1980s, carbon arrows were developed, providing a lighter, straighter and faster arrow.
Bowstrings have developed from Dacron to Kevlar and other even better man-made materials with amazing endurance. Through the 1980’s, the compound bow, where pulleys or cams, plus cables, take over the work of limbs, became more common, having been developed in the USA. In the UK, it must be said, the traditional longbow still forms an important element of the sport, with its own society.
Members of the Bowmen of Bruntwood saw all these changes as the club developed in target archery. Space has not allowed the club to branch out into field archery, which is simulated hunting usually through a wooded landscape, using simulated animal or circular paper targets.
The club has grown in size, now averaging more than 100 members a year. In its early days, the club bought a taxi so that members could travel to tournaments around the country. Now, archers share cars to travel to tournaments.
Despite all the technical developments, there is a strong
traditional element in British archery. York, Hereford and Bristol rounds remain popular despite the emergence of international FITA rounds, shot in metric distances rather than yards, and used in international competition. The 70 metre distance for men and women is now used in international championships, including the Olympics.
The club has been on its present site across the lane from the adventure playground since the 1960’s…in fact before the public open space of Bruntwood became a park. Archers used to shoot on a range where the pitch and putt golf course is now. There is also an indoor range by the side of the car park. The single-storey building was built in the late Victorian period and used as a dairy when it was part of a working farm.
A link with mediaeval archery is the club’s gonfalon or banner, showing the two white harts of Cheshire, originally designed by our founder, Trevor Francis, and amended in the 1990’s by our former Juniors Secretary, Peter Galbraith.
The white hart is an ancient symbol and was the personal emblem of Richard II, who gave it as a badge to his Cheshire archers. King Edward III particularly favoured Cheshire archers, and even decreed a uniform of green and white for them. A William Jauderel served with Edward and was probably a member of the Black Prince’s elite guard of archers.
The modern version of the name appears in Jodrell Bank in Cheshire and in the Jodrell Arms pub in Whaley Bridge. The stone-built ancestral home still exists between New Mills and Whaley Bridge on Yeardsley Lane, Yeardsley being the Derbyshire village from which the family originated. By the side of the family home is the original barracks, with arrow slits, where archers gathered in times of war.
The club is affiliated to the national body, Archery GB, through the Cheshire Archery Association, and Cheshire has strong historical links to mediaeval archery.
White and green are still the traditional colours for archery, as they were for those Cheshire archers massing for campaigns against the French, although clubs can now register their own colours through their governing body. Ironically, the Bowmen of Bruntwood organised a 50th anniversary trip to France – not to Agincourt or
Crecy, where the English archers are still
remembered, but to Stockport’s twin town, Beziers, much further south. Archers from Beziers made a reciprocal visit.
The Bowmen of Bruntwood has carried on its own tradition of winning, being among the premier Cheshire clubs and one of the leading North West clubs by tournament results….and still the only archery club in Stockport.
It is a club for all ages, too…we have a thriving junior section whose most successful graduate to date is Olympic archer Charlotte Burgess, who represented Great Britain at the China Games in 2008 and is now involved in high-level coaching. Rick Henahane is a former Para Olympian, in the compound division.
Our longbow, compound and recurve groups shoot together, and there is an active group of retired members who gather twice-weekly. Coaching for new members takes place on an almost constant basis….go to www.bowmenofbruntwood.co.uk for more information.
David Edwards Hulme.