A History of Plymouth (Sir Francis Drake) Bowling Club

12th January 1907 'Random Remarks' by 'Erimus' in the Western Daily Mercury stated, "The town of all England, indeed all Britain, which should posses a bowling green has none. That is Plymouth".

14th February 1907 A readers letter by B Priestley Shires ' Looks forward to the formation of a Plymouth Bowling Club' and 'I should be pleased to help in its formation'. In the rest of the country the cost of a game of bowls was a penny a game, which included the bowls.

22nd March 1907 Inaugural Committee Meeting at Borough Arms of the Plymouth Bowling Club chaired by B Priestly Shires resolved to approach the Hoe & Recreation Grounds Committee of the Plymouth Corporation to secure a site on the Hoe as a bowling green. Eleven persons present at this meeting.

15th May 1907 Letter received from the Hoe & Recreation Grounds Committee agreeing to the site on Plymouth Hoe, where it is now situated in the year 2000, the cost of developing the site was £65.

31st May 1907 Inaugural meeting of the Plymouth Bowling Club, attended by 28, at the Barristers Room, Guildhall. Previous pro-tem committee dissolved and new committee formed:
PRESIDENT - Mayor of Plymouth (J F Winnicott JP)
VICE PRESIDENT - Alderman (J Cummings JP) Chairman of the Hoe & Recreation Grounds Committee.
CHAIRMAN - B Priestley Shires
SECRETARY - F Pidsley

Other Vice Presidents were as follows:-
Earl of Mount Edgecumbe
Earl of St Germans
Sir Henry Lopes Bart
Sir John Jackson
Sir Joseph A Bellamy
T W Dobson MP
C E Mallet MP
Chairman of the Port of Plymouth Chamber of Commerce
Chairman of Plymouth Incorporated Mercantile Association
Editor of Western Morning News (T Canning Baily)

The name of the club resolved as - Plymouth (Sir Francis Drake) Bowling Club. Subscription for the first year - 7 shillings and 6 pence 7/6 then afterwards to be 15/- shillings, visitors would be charged 3 pence or not less than 2 pence per person per hour. The work on levelling the land on Plymouth Hoe to start in October 1907 and play could start approximately six months later. Meantime, land at Plymouth College leased at a rental of £8 per season for bowling practice whilst the green on the Hoe was prepared. Grounds man was paid 5/- shillings per week. A set of bowls cost 10/- six sets were purchased.

12th June 1907 Opening game at Plymouth and Mannamead College celebrated by the Town Mayor J F Winnicott who threw the first bowl, to whom was presented one pair of bowls mounted with silver and suitably inscribed.

24th July 1907 First 'away' match at St Mary Church and Babbacombe Bowling Club. The match was abandoned due to heavy rain, but a few ends were played as a gesture. Players travelled on the 12.32 pm train to Torquay at the cost of 2/6 pence, arrived at 2 pm, where they were conveyed to Babbacombe for the fee of 1/- shilling.

17th August 1907 Match against Bideford at Ford Park green, result Bideford 189 SFD 107, Bideford team caught the 5.40 am train to Plymouth, they had high tea at Chubb's Hotel, Old Town Street before the game, the game consisted of 11 ends of four rinks, the ground was on a slope but nevertheless some excellent play was witnessed. Bideford returned home on the 8 pm train.

11th October 1907 Work started on the green.

16th November 1907 Work completed on the Hoe Green.

January 1908 Affiliated to English Bowling Association.

22nd April 1908 A second green at Thornhill Road, Mannamead (ex-Victoria Tennis Club) opened by B Priestley Shires because of the large membership, 130 men, of the club.

6th May 1908 The Hoe Bowling Green opened by the Mayor (Sir Charles H Radford JP). Members present from clubs such as Torrington, Torquay, Exeter, St Mary Church, Helston, Bideford & St Austell. The club membership was 175. It should be noted that the Hoe green was a public green as well as the green for the Plymouth (Sir Francis Drake) Bowling Club.

12th May 1908 At this committee meeting a report on the opening day was given and Admiral Sir W H Fawkes K.C.B., K.C.V.O. and Major-General F.A.Bowles C.B. were elected as honorary members. Members were required to wear galoshes when playing bowls. The selection procedure for matches was that the Four Skips with the Captain did this with the Captain having the prerogative.

17th August 1908 Thornhill green closed due to lack of use by members and poor surface because of drainage problems. Letter received from Mr R Adams Luckham of Earls Court, Mauley, New South Wales, Australia (Director & Editor of the Sidney 'Bulletin') an old Plymouthian offering a prize to the value of two guineas, to be called the Luckham Trophy Mr Luckham was then elected as an Honorary member.

31st October 1908 Formation of Devon Bowling Association of which Plymouth (Sir Francis Drake) Bowling Club was a founding member.

4th March 1909 Five year lease taken on a plot of land at Ford Park, Mutley for a bowling green. Leased at £27-10s per year.

28th July 1909 Ford Park green opened by the Town Mayor. Club membership 180.

3rd August 1910 New pavilion opened at Ford Park green. Insurance premium was 7/- shillings.

27th October 1910 Joined Three Towns District League.

29th September 1917 Ford Park green closed and club headquarters returned to the Hoe green.

30 September 1920 'The Plymouth (Sir Francis Drake) Bowling Club withdraw from Plymouth and District League' in 1921 - resolved at General Meeting.

21st December 1921 Annual General Meeting - Proposed and carried that land at Whiteford Road be purchased and a green built with Cumberland turf. Membership fee established at £3-3s.

20th May 1922 Green and pavilion opened at Whiteford Road at 3 pm. The club severed its association with the Hoe Bowling green.

19th June 2001 At a Special General Meeting it was voted that the club accept a Ladies Section.

11th August 2001 A fire destroyed a large part of the clubhouse, all matches were cancelled and we had to use other clubs greens for Finals Day, etc.

20th April 2002 After extensive work being carried out on clubhouse and refurbishment the Club was re-opened by Devon County President Roger Bawden.

Club Honours

Plymouth (Sir Francis Drake) Bowling Club
E.B.A. SINGLES CHAMPIONS

1925 - H Webber
1926 - R Jack

1974 EBA Under 25 Singles Winner - D Cutler
1979 EBA Singles Winner - D Cutler
1983 EBA '128' Singles Winner - D Cutler
1984 EBA Champion of Champions Singles Winner - D Cutler
1985 EBA '128' Singles Winner - D Cutler
1975 - 2000 EBA International, received a total of 54 caps - D Cutler

DEVON COUNTY BOWLING ASSOCIATION

Chairman
1915 - 1924 - B P Shires
1929 - A G Short

President
1954 - A H Cole
1962 - I A Denning
1978 - W A Smith
1994 - K E Wood

DEVON COUNTY LADIES BOWLING ASSOCIATION

President
2009 - K Page

BOWLS DEVON

President
2010 - Brian Edwards