Salisbury Bowling Club

Club History – Golden Jubilee

See also:

History | 1920s | Archives | Golden Jubilee | Green Opening 1936 | Centenary Year 2012


Golden Jubilee 1912 – 1962

We reproduce here a remarkable booklet produced at the time of the Club’s 50th anniversary in 1962.

I urge you to read it, but before you do I want to reassure you that the social attitudes demonstrated towards the end of the text are not those of today. It is striking how social attitudes in Britain have changed. Viewed in the 21st century, it seems to be an anachronistic document.

Of course The Salisbury Bowling and Social Club was then a men’s club. The patronising sentiments expressed towards women in the last two paragraphs, are so outdated now as to seem rather comical and are unrecognisable in today’s club.

You will see that the members’ surnames are often preceded by “Mr” and their initials. Today, on our website, often a forename is sufficient.

The deferential attitude to the sport’s then governing body, The English Bowling Association, is very noticeable and verges on the absurd.

And our smart white, blue and yellow club shirts, which were introduced in Centenary Year, would not have met with the approval of the writer in 1962.

However we learn that television cameras were present for the Club’s match against the EBA, possibly the most recent time (but not we hope the last time) the game was televised at Devonshire Road.

The notes on our history give some more valuable information to add to the History section of the website.

Do enjoy reading this, but please read it critically.

John Hurle

Click to view the original document in pdf format.




Affiliated to the English Bowling Association and the Wiltshire County Bowling Association.

1912 – 1962

W. F. MILDREN, ESQ., President

Produced and written by: STANLEY G. HUGHES, Hon. Secretary


As the Hon. Secretary for The Golden Jubilee Year, I fall for the task of 50 years of case history.

It would be quite wrong of me if I did not here give my thanks to all who have assisted me with this task, and in particular, I feel it right and proper to name one of our members, about whom you will read later in another capacity, who has put himself out to assist me, our respected friend, Mr. B. S. Case.

I would also thank the “Salisbury and Winchester Journal,” who gave me the facility of “searching ” their papers published 50 years ago, to enable me to produce fact and not fiction.

I would also like to mention that Mr. B. S. Case has spent hours renovating old pictures which I have discovered,” which provide factual evidence, over the period of the 50 years of history.

It is my sincere wish that this publication will be of much value and interest to all into whose hands it may fall; not because it is my work, but because it is a case history of the Club which is our property, and of which we are so rightly proud.

“The march of time” is brought home to us by the fact that when the pictures were taken in the initial stages of this Club the old time honoured process is in evidence of craftsmen photographers. Their pictures are as good today as when taken, but are limited to the vision of those who visit our pavilion.

Fifty years later, modern science brings cine and television cameras to Devonshire Road Bowling Green on the occasion of the Club being honoured by no other than The English Bowling Association, and all watching television over the huge network of the South of England, may see our Jubilee Match.

I am proud to have been able to negotiate this facility, not only as it provides a lovely advertisement for The Salisbury Bowling Club, but also that a terrific moral boost must be the result to this lovely game, over the said area of wide coverage in the Southern Counties.

Stanley G. Hughes.

It will no doubt be said, “Why Salisbury Cathedral on the front page of this brochure when it is of 50 years of bowls with The Salisbury Bowling and Social Club ? ” a perfectly fair question. Salisbury is over-whelmed by foreign visitors year by year, and they come to see our lovely cathedral and city. Air travel gives mileages as the crow flies, hence we have visitors doing 3,500 miles from the States, 6,000 miles from the tip of South Africa, 9,000 to 10,500 miles from the Far East; all to see our cathedral, while in England.

This pilgrimage to the cathedral has brought many bowlers to our green and pavilion who would not have otherwise visited us, or played with us, and as there is evidence that there used to be a lovely green from the Bishop’s Palace to the Chapter House, on which the clergy used to play, it commenced in 1220 A.D., should take prominence in our history.

It has given me much pleasure to see from time to time how our visitors dwell on the large photographs of the cathedral, with the city in the background, which I was able to produce for our pavilion in the recent renovation scheme of our pavilion. To me this provides the link of our club with this city.

Long before this Club ever came into existence there is evidence of the game of bowls being played in this area in 1751.

The ninth Earl of Pembroke used to play this game with his guests. The late Earl of Pembroke gave permission for this photograph to be taken from one of the valuable oil paintings at Wilton House, and to be produced in the County Year Book. 1934. The painting is dated 1745.

In 1751 there were three bowling greens in this city, all of which were 42 yards square, one in the Bishop’s Palace grounds, one in Crane Bridge Road, and one in Castle Street.
When Constable created his immortal painting of the cathedral he must have been looking over the area of the Bowling Green Nurseries in Crane Street, operative at that time, and could have well seen the game in progress from time to time.

Of the bowling green in Castle Street, where now stands The Wyndham Garage, ” The Salisbury and Winchester Journal ” of the 15th May, 1775, states that: “This day will be opened the bowling green above the Castle Gate, where gentlemen who ‘chuse’ to encourage so genteel an amusement, will meet with obliging behaviour and good accommodation by,

Their obedient servant,


Also good beer and ale.”

History is then rather quiet until 1873. I have found an old photograph which is a Christmas card, and is in the pavilion for the Jubilee Year. 1873 to 1913 is the period covered, and the verse is of the game being played on the bowling green in Crane Street, with the winding river flowing past. This photograph gives bowlers among whom will be seen none other than the father of A. G. Street, the famous Wiltshire novelist, broadcaster and farmer of present day fame.

So to 1912 and the formation of our Club. Michael Harding, of Grove House, Milford, purchased some lawn woods, and with his friends developed an appetite for the game, with the result that Councillors and Citizens alike involved, really got together to produce a proper bowling club, with the result that in 1912 a three rink green was laid in the Victoria Park, and on the 12th of May the City Council played The Citizens. The record of the game is: Council—Alderman Haskins (skip), Coun. Alexandra, Coun. Pearce, Mr. P. Baglin: Citizens—Michael Harding (skip), Mr. Southby, Mr. Brinsmead, Mr. Lodge. Score: Council 30; Citizens 11. Council won by 19 shots.

I think it would be a good thing if the Council challenged us again in our Jubilee Year, for the records to prove that the Citizens have progressed in the game since 1912.

We owe much to the tenacity of our forebears, who were undismayed by the shock result of the earliest game on record, for soon after, ” The Salisbury and Winchester Journal ” again reports progress: “At a meeting held in the Cycling and Social Club, with Mr. W. H. Jackson in the chair, it was decided to form a bowling club, and the following were elected: Chair-man, Mr. W. Pearce; Captain, Mr. Michael Harding; Secretary, Mr. H. Rowe; Committee—Messrs. Baglin, Haskins, Brinsmead, Foulsham, Watson, Dyson and Finlay. Among those present Messrs. White, Lancaster and Smith are also mentioned. A committee meeting followed, at which a scheme was drawn up to submit to the City Council..

The “Journal ” reports that “The Town Clerk produced to the City Lands a letter from Mr. H. T. Rowe, stating that a largely attended meeting of those interested in the game of bowls was held, with the view of forming a bowling club in connection with the bowling green at ‘The Park.’ ” Officers and Committee were appointed at a subsequent meeting, and he was instructed to submit the following proposals in the hope that the Council would approve same, adding that the formation of such a club on the lines suggested would do much to stimulate interest in the game, with a corresponding increase in receipts, and that the Committee hoped the Council would assist their efforts to make the green a source of pleasure and profit by acceding to their proposals:-

(a) That the Club should have exclusive use of two of the rinks, leaving one available for the public on two evenings of each week, viz: Tuesdays and Saturdays, after 5.0 p.m.

(b) That the Club should have the exclusive use of the green when necessary, for the purpose of playing matches with visiting teams.

(c) That the Club should pay five shillings per annum as consideration for these privileges, it being understood that members pay for the use of Corporation bowls and rubbers unless they possess their own, such money to be received by the Corporation.

The Committee recommended that the application be acceded to, subject to the addition of the words “On not exceeding six occasions during the summer,” after the word “teams” in Paragraph “(b) ” of the proposals. The report was adopted.

So now we enter the 50th year of bowls as a Club, with grateful thanks to the City Council of those days, and our founder member, Alderman E. J. Case, Hon. Vice-President for the Golden Jubilee Year.
It is thus with little wonder that with enthusiasm so strong, with Edgar Dyson appointed delegate to the Wilts. County Bowling Association, The Salisbury Bowling Club won the Rink Championship in 1914.

Another meeting was held, where it was proposed that the Club annual subscription should be 5s.0d. Mr. Lancaster proposed an amendment, seconded by Jim Gollin, that it should be 3s. 6d. per annum. The proposition was carried. It was also decided that all losers should place 1d. in the box provided for this purpose.

During the years of World War I, troops of all nationalities were entertained to games and entertainment by the Club from camps on Salisbury Plain.

In 1919, with the world situation looking so much better, it is little wonder that our early bowlers were looking for a better green in the Victoria Park, i.e., one of six rinks. This was accomplished and the last turf was laid by Mr. L. J. Sly, on the 23rd of March, 1921, at a cost of £633, the whole of which was put up by members of the Club.

In 1936, we owe a debt of gratitude to the members of that year, many of whom are still us, for the foresight, determination and courage to launch a scheme costing £1,943 0s. 5d. for the purchase of the beautiful site on which now star is our present green, pavilion, car park and green nursery. With the present pound valued at 7s. 9d. by pre-war standard, the debt of appreciation we owe to our members of that year is thus magnified. Thousands of hours of health-giving sunshine have been enjoyed by more people than can be counted in the grounds of this Club, by the fact that from noon to sunset, the whole area in front of our pavilion during every bowling season, is a bower of sunshine. Many a bowler, recovering from an illness has been back on the green long before the doctors said he would, by basking in the sunshine, away from draughts and cold winds, in the company of those playing the game. This asset cannot be counted in the fortunes of the fluctuating pound.

It is little wonder that teams from far and wide look forward to coming again. Indeed a farmer from Tasmania, in the famous Australian side which played on the green in 1959, stated that “This was as hot and as beautiful as anything we Australians have at home.” There is little doubt tha.t those bowlers of 1936 recognised a perfect site when they saw one. We shall never be out of debt to them.


Pride of place must be given to our founder member, Alderman E. J. Case, known affectionately to use all as “Teddy.” In addition to having been President and Chairman, his name appears on the Club’s honours boards no less than 28 times, a record which must stand for many years. The three years 1930, 1932, 1934, are those in which our Jubilee Year Hon. Vice-President had international trials. In 1929, with his brother, B. S. Case, they were in the finals of all England in the English Bowling Association National Championships.

In 1933 the late Percy Holmes, beloved by all who knew him, was in the singles of all England in the English Bowling Association National Championships.

In 1936 C. F. Davis who, in retirement “emigrated ” to the Channel Islands, but comes to see us once a year, together with the late Percy Holmes, were in the pairs of all England in the English Bowling Association National Championships.

In 1960 A. E. Pratt, as semi-finalist of Wiltshire Bowling Association Championships, was competing in the English Bowling Association National Championship.

In 1961 G. Pike (present captain) had international trials in the under 30’s.

Hon. Life Membership of the English Bowling Association.

On the 12th December, 1954, one of our most respected members, B. S. Case, Esq., received the highest award which one can receive, i.e., an Hon. Life Membership of the English Bowling Association, and is one of the oldest living to have this honour. When one refers to one of the oldest living, “one must also bear in mind that “B. S.,” as he is affectionately known, is one of the youngest old gentlemen that it is possible to meet, because if one saw him in the city, walking or driving his car, one would think him to be in the early 60’s, rather than the 84 years which he is. The Award of Merit states: “Your wise counsel, your integrity of purpose, together with your able administrative services, have earned the highest respect and esteem.” What a fitting statement. Many of us know that here in Wiltshire “B. S.” has done a truly wonderful job in his administration of the Wilts. County Bowling Association Benevolent Fund, over a number of years. Is it any wonder that he should be held in such high esteem?


1933 Winners of the Rink Championship of the Wilts. County Bowling Association.
1925 Winners of the Four Rink League of the Wilts. County Bowling Association.


1943 The late W. C. Coleman.
1947 C. F. Davis.
1949 C. C. Bevis.
1951 F. Thompson.
1953 R. Percy.
1960 J. Dane.
1961 A. Hayward.


The English Bowling Association has conferred the greatest honour possible to any club by consenting to come to Salisbury and play the Club. It is hardly possible to say in words how much we do appreciate this. The word “Welcome” seems so inadequate to such an august company, who in their consideration for Club expenditures, have expressed the wish that there shall be no civic banquet prior to the Jubilee Match, but that they shall have a high tea in our pavilion with us. What a wonderful hand of fellowship is held out to us on the 29th May, 1962. There is no doubt whatsoever that everything will be done which is possible to be done, to give this occasion the status which it demands.


The television cameras on the 29th May will show a match in progress, in which everyone will be correctly dressed for such an occasion. Just as no person goes on to the courts to play tennis unless they are dressed in whites just as everyone in a lowly village cricket team goes out to play in whites, I would dearly like to see the prestige brought by the cameras of TV on the 29th with everyone in whites, carried on at every match in the fixture list. In my view, it is so easy to maintain a standard of deportment on the green. There is no better scene than a match in progress with everyone in whites. It brings prestige to the game. On the contrary, it is so easy to allow prestige to slip from the game by carefree attire. Just as the tiny village of Holt last year really shook their opponents by their resolution to play every match in whites, can we make this a Jubilee resolution? I would love to hear the answer: ” Yes, most certainly. Why not? ”

Of one thing there is nothing more certain, that being that we are members of a lovely Club, steeped in tradition, with standards very high. Let us be proud of our heritage. Let us remember at all times that a year in history such as this calls us to remember the wonderful achievements accomplished and the Club. While taking pride from all this, let us remember that the new members are those people who, with the passing of time, may be called upon to take high responsibilities in the bowling calendar, and that if we help them sufficiently well during their initial few months in the game, to enable them to become pretty fair bowlers, who knows? they may well be taking part in some future National Championships.

Let us remember the things which go on behind the scenes. Wet or fine, the groundsman, as a result of whose craft and_ devotion, we are enabled to enjoy such a standard of bowls, with all the voluntary hours given by the Green Committees over the years. Frank Thompson, of Myddleton Cup fame, must be mentioned here for all the yeoman service and devotion required day after day after day, on the occasion of our having the green relaid three seasons ago. When we raised the required £1,200 we were all very happy in the knowledge that Frank and Mr. B. C. Clayton, M.A., of the Sports Turf Research Institute, of Bingley, Yorkshire, would see to it that we obtained the best results possible for our latest “deposit” into the green. How well they did their job. Frank Thompson, Esq., twice President, twice Chairman, renowned in Myddleton Cup matches, ten times on the honours boards, we salute you and record our grateful thanks for everything.

Let us remember the grand work of all who have served during this 50 years on all the committees.

Let us remember the grand work of all who have served as officers of the Club during this 50 years.

Let us remember the eight years as president of none other than Sir James Macklin.

Let us remember E. G. Foilwell, Esq., who has occupied every position in the Club during the many years of his membership.

Let us “youngsters” accept the challenge. We are in the present happy position as a result of everything well schemed and well done during this last “50.”

Let us “youngsters” recognise the fact that we have a job on our hands if we are to maintain the standards of what has gone before.

Let us “youngsters” at all times be in close proximity when there is a job of work to be done. Let us not be backward in coming forward when there is some responsibility to be undertaken.

Let us “youngsters” remember that a Club with the standing and respect which we enjoy is not manufactured overnight.

I have endeavoured to run over the salient points of the 50 years. If I have missed anything please forgive me, but let us see to it that the standard set does not fall in any shape or form.


How large is the debt of gratitude which we owe to all the ladies over the years, who have so ably catered for our teas and lunches during home matches? How much brighter have these matches been for their smiling, pleasant and efficient care and attention to our service at the table? How delightful have our tables looked when we have come in from the game, with the delightful array of flowers, which they have provided and displayed, as only ladies can?
Ladies, one and all, I say that this conclusion would not be complete unless I recorded the most sincere “Thank you” to you all, from every member of this Club; not forgetting the profits which you hand to the Treasurer, which are available only as a result of your shrewd buying and distribution, season by season.

Ladies, we salute you all

Thanks to Roger Phillips for providing the document.