In the 18th century, in the reign of George II, Blackburn was a small town with a population of five or six thousand. The bubble was soon to burst with the growth of the cotton industry. Money was pumped in by entrepreneurs and the local landed gentry. Not only the building of the Leeds Liverpool canal from 1795, but following on, was the spread of the railways, all affecting the town. Sites for these services and for the new cotton mills were being sought so the bowling green became vulnerable having spent many years in a quiet area, close to the town.
The origin of bowls is lost in time and many historians have done their best but have only succeeded in collecting some scattered references to the game on the “bowling alleys" attached to many great houses.
In 1427, it is recorded, the Grocers' Company of London had an “alley", to which it was their courteous custom to admit citizens upon application. There are many allusions to bowls in Shakespeare's plays, and the terms he used suggests a personal acquaintance with the game. We all know that Francis Drake was playing bowls on Plymouth Hoe in 1588 when he was informed that the Spanish Armada had been sighted and retorted that he would finish his game first. Charles I is reported to have played bowls in London. However, all this is superseded by the Southampton (Old) Bowling Club whose first Master of the Green was appointed in 1299 and every club President has been called Master since. In 1540, or thereabouts, the local bench was lashing out fines of 6s 8d a time to peasants caught playing bowls when they should have been practising archery.
Locally, it has been found that in 1663, the Dunkenhalgh at Clayton le Moors had a designated green, as an inventory taken at the house included a set of bowls.
Of course, bowls in the south, as we all know, is flat green, but no one has been able to ascertain where the crown green version started, places such as Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Staffordshire, Cumbria and Yorkshire have been suggested.
There were two bowling greens in Old Bank Street, Snig Brook, 1820, and another, in Thunder Alley (Town Hall Street) 1822, and subsequently, many hostelries had them adjacent to their premises as the game became ever more popular. The Griffin's Head at Redlam had one by 1844. These greens were some 60 years before the first “Talbot" Bowling Handicap in 1882 and the first “Waterloo" in 1907, both in Blackpool. Lancashire County Crown Green Bowling Association was formed in 1888 and the British Crown Green Bowling Association was instigated in 1907. There had been professional bowlers prior to 1878.
W. A. Abram in his 'History of Blackburn' published in 1877 states that 'the club' existed as long ago as 1734, and most of the Blackburn gentry from that date onward have been members. The old bowling green of the club was at the foot of the slope at Cicely Hole, and was removed about 1844, when that land was taken as part of the site of the railway-station. The Green near the Grammar School was then formed; and again in 1869, the Club removed to a new Green constructed for its use in Shear Bank Road. The number of members in 1734 was 18 and is now limited to 100.
The minute books that are still in existence at the Community History Department of Blackburn Library date back to 17th May 1753 when the club was officially constituted and rules drawn up, although as the minute book records, payment of subscriptions for the years 1753 and 1754 perhaps there was a previous record now lost. It can therefore be ascertained that apart from the Parish Church, now the Cathedral, and Blackburn Grammar School, it is the oldest institution in the town. Certainly, it is the oldest properly constituted bowling club along with Lewes in Sussex, in the whole of the UK.
The 'green' to which its earliest records relate was situate at Cicely Hall Farm, upon which the Blackburn railway station now stands, and its 18 members paid a yearly subscription of 2s each. The land belonged to Mr Joseph Feilden, and as the accounts mention no payment in respect of it, it is to be presumed the members were in the happy position of paying no rent. The 'green' was enclosed by a quick thorn hedge and was approached by a path, through a rope walk, from what is now the Boulevard.
The first page in the 1754-minute book records the Rules of the club as follows:
The Rules of the Bowling Green in Blackburn 17th May 1754
- That no person shall be admitted a subscriber but who shall have the consent of a Majority of the then subscribing Members.
- That no person enter thereon but who is either himself a Subscriber or introduced by one.
- That no person be heard to swear thereon, on forfeiture of sixpence for each singular offence.
- That no person be guilty of uttering any obscene or scurrilous language thereon, on forfeiture of the like sum of Sixpence for each singular offence: such language to be adjudged whether obscene or not by a majority of the then present subscribers.
- That no Subscriber Bowl or be concerned for money either in! Betts or on any other account whatsoever above Sixpence in anyone Game: and seven casts to be reckoned the Game, on forfeiture of all the Money or value won and lost, above such sum in anyone game as aforesaid.
- That this last Rule extend to the playing at Tables or any other game hereon practised.
- That before any persons begin to Bowl their Games. Lotts be cast as well for the choice of the Bowls as the lead of the Jack, unless the parties otherwise agree.
- That no one set of Bowlers bowl above Three Games together, but at the end of such three games shall offer and deliver up the Bowls to the then present Subscribers, upon pain of being excluded the Green.
- That the Jack lying be one yard at least from the edge of the Green, and twenty yards at least from the footer or mark. And that no person shall lead the Jack three times together on pain of losing the Jack.
- That every person leading the Jack has a right to remove the footer for the better soling or other advantage, provided he exceed not two yards from the distance where the Jack was taken up. And such removal to be before a Bowl thrown.
- That during the game no one direct or instruct any of the persons bowling in any wise, unless he be himself a party, or have some wager depending on such game, on forfeiture of two pence for each offence.
- That all forfeitures incurred by the breach of any Rules herein contained be paid to the Steward for the time being, and by him applied for the use of the Green.
- That the Steward of the Green for the time being shall be yearly chosen by a Majority of the persons subscribing. And he or his deputy shall take in, collect, and account for the Subscriptions to the Green, as well as the forfeitures hereby incurred. And also have the direction and ordering of the Green, and the charge of Bowls, and all other matters and things thereto belonging.
“As witness our hands this 17th day of May 1754."
(Here follow the signatures of the first Subscribers, thirty-five in number, who each paid the sum of 4s.
The Rules are continued as below:
- That the Steward for the time being in the month of April yearly appoint a meeting for the making up of his accounts. (The rest of this rule has been afterwards crossed with a pen, as if cancelled.) Of which meeting he shall give four days notice by the Bell Man, that the Subscribers may have knowledge thereof, and shall, at such meeting, make up his accounts, and pay over any moneys (that) shall then remain in his hands, either Subscriptions or forfeitures, to the succeeding Steward, which succeeding Steward shall be chosen and appointed at such meeting by a majority of the Subscribers then present. And that all Subscribers shall appear, either by themselves or their deputy, and pay their respective Subscriptions for the ensuing year to such succeeding Steward, and also their respective shares of the expense of such meeting, or in default of attendance, either personally or by deputy, to be entirely debarred from subscribing to the Green for such ensuing year.
- That the Steward for the time being shall pay or answer out of his own pocket all such forfeitures as he shall neglect or refuse to demand or receive (having notice thereof). And in case of neglect or default in calling or giving notice of a meeting in the month of April yearly as aforesaid, shall forfeit and pay to and for the use of the Green, to the next succeeding Steward, the sum of Five Shillings.
“That any subscriber, upon knowing any forfeiture to be incurred by the breach of any of the before-mentioned Rules, may demand such forfeiture from the offender. And, in case of payment, pay over the same to the Steward for the time being. Or, in case of non-payment must acquaint the Steward of the Green for the time being therewith, who is to receive the same, and provide for the due execution of these Rules in all respects."
At this time there were 35 fully paid up members (see Appendix for list) each having paid 4s for the 1753 and 1754 season. The Subscribers paid 2s 6d for the 1755 season and the sum of £4 14s 1d was handed over by the first Steward Mr John Sudell to Mr Richard Smalley the new Steward.
Expenses for the 1855 season were as follows:
|April|| ||£ s d |
|12||John Nevill for a second time crying meeting || 3 |
|15 ||For a Box to put Bowl in sent to Liverpool || 3 |
|22 ||Geo. Abbatt for four times rowling Green, oiling Bowls etc. two days work || 4 6 |
|May|| || |
|3||For carriage of bowls from Liverpool || 1 0 |
|3||For 6 pair New Bowls, a New Jack and a Bag ||1 11 0|
|28||Hen. Watson for two New Footers || 8|
|31||Richd. Procter for two New Seats and repairing Old Ones || 3 0|
|31||For New Pigin || 1 9|
|June|| || |
|3||Geo. Abbatt for times Rowling and Mowing, oiling Bowls etc. || 7 0|
|20|| Geo. Abbatt for 4 times Rowling and Mowing Green || 6 4|
|July|| || |
|11|| Geo. Abbatt for Rowling and Mowing Green, Dubing Hedge || 7 6|
|17 ||James Haworth for Mending || 6|
|29 ||Geo. Abbatt for Mowing and 3 times rowling || 6 0|
|August || || |
|19 ||Geo. Abbatt ditto || 7 6|
|October|| || |
|10|| Geo. Abbatt ditto and rowling || 3 0|
|November|| || |
|5|| Geo. Abbatt for oiling Bowls, new Lock, Hay Seeds etc. || 4 0|
|Jan 1756|| || |
|1|| Geo. Abbatt for Cumin's Matt || 1 0|
|Feb|| || |
|16|| Man for making New Rode || 6 0|
|17|| Man for Guttering side of New Rode || 1 0|
|19|| For a Load Lime to reaper House || 1 0|
|Mar|| || |
|2 ||Geo. Abbatt and Giles for Fencing and Cumins (see Appendix) || 2 8 |
|13 ||James Feilden, Six days work, 8s; 112 load Lime, Hare, etc 2s 6d ||1 0 6|
|27||Geo. Abbatt and Jno Nevill for calling || 6|
| || ||£5 12 4 |
There is no mention of any rent being paid to Mr Joseph Feilden so one has to assume that he had allowed them the use of his land rent free.
Extracts from the minute book as follows:
1763 April 5th; Agreed by subscribers present at this Meeting to spend Five Shillings of the Public Stock at every election of a Steward. Agreed per Joseph Browne, John Talbot, John Hindle, Thomas Shorrock, Edward Stott, William Ellison and John Haworth.
1772 April 20th; We do hereby order that every future Subscriber hereto who liath before subscribed, and shall omit to subscribe yearly, shall before his admittance pay a double Subscription, equal to that present year's Subscription, and of that the year next before.
1773 May 17th; It is declared and agreed that if any Subscriber to this Green shall be found guilty of leaving the Keys at any place but Mr Margerison's, he shall be fined One Shilling, and on refusing such payment, be excluded from the Green for the Season. Thomas Bolton, J Greenall, Richard Birley, B Markland, Law, Duckworth, John Osbaldeston, Robert Hornby, Edmund Peel, John Craven and B Walmsley.
1778; Frequently complaints having been made of Subscribers introducing Non-Subscribers who are inhabitants of the Town, and upon persuing the 2nd Article of the Green, which allows every Subscriber the privilege of introducing any person (without excepting Inhabitants) - It is unanimously agreed by the Subscribers at this Meeting, that every Inhabitant who chooses to partake of the Diversion ought to contribute to the expense; therefore, resolved that for the future no Subscriber shall introduce and Inhabitant, on pain of forfeiting One Shilling for each offence. John Haworth, Oliver Livesey, W. Margerison, Robert Hall, Robert Parker, J. D. Pryme, Richard Birley, Richard Smalley, Thomas Smalley, Hugh Jamieson, Edward Haworth & Thomas Bancroft.
1779 March 11th; Whereas material Damages have been done to the Fences of the Bowling Green by the Subscribers going over them, it is agreed, upon at this Meeting that any Subscriber going over the same for the future shall forfeit for each offence Sixpence.
A new set of “Rules of the Bowling Green in Blackburn" agreed to be observed from this time, 19th March 1781
1793 At a Meeting at Mr Robert Woods Dun Horse on Friday 28th June 1793 the following Motions were proposed and carried with Mr W. Heaton in the chair.
- Resolved that on account of the expense of the New Room etc. built over the Bowling Green House, every subscriber shall pay an additional subscription of a Guinea each, to defray the expenses already incurred and that any member who refuses the same shall be excluded the Green.
- Resolved that on account of the above-mentioned expense every new Member who may be hereafter admitted shall pay a Guinea entrance, besides the usual subscription of 2s 6d per annum.
- Resolved that when a surplus the President or Steward shall at the election of a new Steward expend the sum of a Guinea provided the fund exceeds that amount and that the annual Meetings hereafter be held at the Bowling Green House.
- Resolved that if any Member refuses or neglects to pay his Subscription of 2s 6d on or before the 24th June if demanded by the Steward he shall forfeit for every month so neglecting the sum of 6d per month on pain of expulsion.
- Resolved that the Steward shall within one month after the election of a new Steward make up and transfer his accounts to his successor on pain of forfeiting 2s 6d per month.
- Resolved that a copy of the Rules etc be printed and distributed to each Member and the undermentioned Subscribers agree the above.
- Resolved that the thanks of this meeting be given to Mr Heaton for his attention to this business. Some 45 members agreed and the total special subscription amounted to £46 4s.
As time went on the subscription was gradually increased to 7s per annum, and the green enrolled amongst its members the Hindles of Woodfold Park, and representatives of the Sudell, Birley, Hornby, Walmsley, Thwaites, Chippendale, Freckleton, Heaton, Alston, Livesey, Osbaldeston, Hopwood, Dodgson, Hutchinson, Stanley, Thompson, Pilkington, Ainsworth, Turner, and other influential families.
Towards the end of the eighteenth century the club was sufficiently numerous to impose an entrance fee of £l 1s upon new members, and affluent enough to pay a small rent.
An entry in 1785 quotes the club paying a Mr Gimes for catching worms which seemed to have been an on going problem.
In 1793 a subscription was entered into, for the purpose of building another room over the Greenhouse, of £l 1s each member, which raised £46 4s. This, with the fund previously accumulated, paid the cost thereof, namely, £73 4s 10d.
As the number of members increased, and as soon as the funds enabled it, a rent of £4 10s was paid per year, and afterwards one of £10.
In 1842, June 10th, Messrs Atkinson, Morrice, Smithson, Alston, Rodgett, Robert Ainsworth and James Haworth were appointed a Committee to revise the Rules.
At a Special Field Day, on the 24th June 1844, John Alston Esq. the then senior member of the Green and steward, was presented with a gold snuffbox, value £3 l ls. At the same meeting John Leyland Feilden Esq., son of Sir William Feilden, volunteered to give three dozen bottles of champagne, which were drunk in the centre of the Green, and Mr Alston's health was given musical honours. The membership at this time was 59.
In 1846, the East Lancashire Railway Company approached Mr Joseph Feilden (steward in 1808) with a view to buying the land on which they wished to build the new railway and station.
On the 30th June, 1846, a Committee of three Messrs. John Alston, Joshua Smithson and Robert Ainsworth were appointed to negotiate with the East Lancashire Railway Company for compensation for the taking of the Green by the Company. It helped of course that many of the gentry members of the club were shareholders in the Company. The compensation was fixed at £150 and was paid by the Company on the 7th October 1846 into the Manchester Liverpool Bank.
The Green was then removed to and reconstructed on a plot of land adjoining the Old Free Grammar School, east of St Peter's Church, and the entrance thereto was in a street now called St Peter Street.
At a Meeting held on 23rd April 1847, it had been resolved that the New Bowling Green situate near the Free Grammar School be opened for the ensuing season on Thursday the 13th May next at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, and that £5 be appropriated out of the funds towards the expense of a cold collation provided for Subscribers at Mr. Birch's the St. Leger Inn on that day.
In 1849, a boy was engaged “to wait after the members attend to the green every afternoon during the season". A woman was employed to do the cleaning and wash the towels and other people were engaged to mow the green and do various jobs. The members were obviously used to paying people to work for them rather than them joining together to help out.
The conferring of honorary life membership on members of distinction was introduced in 1850 when James Hamer was so honoured “he being the oldest member of the club, first elected in 1780, and served as steward in 1786". A later one was James Livesey, later of Blackpool, who became a member in 1898, serving as treasurer and was still a member in 1937.
An extract from P. A. Whittle's “Blackburn As It Is" published in 1852 reads as follows:
“The new Subscription Bowling Green, established in 1847, and opened early in the summer of the same year, is near the Free Grammar School, and forms a source of amusement to those who are fond of exercise and innocent recreation. It is a relaxation to those who are close to the business of the day, and whose body requires a change, as well as mind, from the toils of the shop and counting house".
On October 22nd 1852, the members of the club presented Mr. Thomas Bennett with a silver snuffbox, for his valuable services as Secretary.
In the year 1867, in consequence of the land all around the Green having been let for and covered with buildings, the situation was becoming quite unfit for a Bowling Green. It was therefore removed to and reconstructed on the site of the present Green in Shear Bank Road, which was the only plot of ground that could be obtained near the centre of the town. The late Mr Feilden very generously let the land on a lease at the same rent which had been paid, but as it was necessary from the situation that strong boundary walls should be erected, Mr Feilden agreed to erect them, and the Committee consented to pay a rent of five per cent on the outlay, which made the rent £30 per year (this is the figure still paid to date). The central portion of what is now a commodious and comfortable clubhouse was built in 1869, by Alderman Henry Duckworth (grandfather of a subsequent member and president Walter H. Duckworth), and further extensions and alterations have been made, both externally and internally from time to time.
The levelling, draining, and forming of the Green, from the hilly nature of the ground, cost a considerable amount of money, and as a larger and better greenhouse was required in that neighbourhood than in St Peter Street, a debt was incurred amounting to £1, 000 and upwards. The committee tried at that time to raise the money from members which numbered 70 but found that they could not do so.
It is interesting to note that the green was built to a specification (whether this was common at the time I do not know although other greens of the period appear to be similar) of 42yds square, with falls of 6in., 9in., 12in. and 14in. to the four respective corners.
A donkey was purchased costing some £3 for its keep over 5 years, its shoes costing 8s. Why the donkey was acquired or where it was kept we do not know.
In 1880, the members which now numbered around 100, with the assistance of friends, by subscriptions reduced the debt to £600, and on the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 20th, December 1886 a bazaar, opened by William Coddington, Esq. M.P. was held in the Exchange, which was a success, and, with the exception of a very small sum, placed the Green out of debt.
From 1881 to 1893, Henry Backhouse occupied the position of president, and special mention should be paid, for it was under his leadership that the club was freed from debt, and also, for the constant and whole-hearted interest he took in its affairs.
The first match with any established club in the district was at Whalley in 1883, when the committee decided that “a horse and trap be provided to convey the woods there". It must have been a long day, what with the slow progress of the horse and cart, the playing of the game and the hospitality which was common in those days, one can imagine an early start and a very late homecoming (no doubt helped by being in a very happy state).
Mr. Randle Joseph Feilden M.P. of Witton conveyed the property to the club in 1894, leaving the land and buildings as freehold for perpetuity with a ground rent of £30 per annum.
In July 1900, two sets of woods were given by the members to the newly opened Blackburn Union Workhouse bowling green.
By the early 1900s membership had been increased to include Full, Country/non-playing and Life with a maximum of 135 which was maintained for a number of years but rose to 166 until 1945, and then was raised to 175. The 1959 year saw a reduction to 150 but another increase took place in 1965 to 175 but this was to include Ladies who were allowed to become members in 1968.
J. T. Rowntree presented the club with a cup which is still played for today. Initially, it was for an internal competition but in 1966 it was used for an annual competition between ourselves and East Lanc's Bowling Club.
In 1937, a short history of the club had been compiled to mark over 200 years of the club's existence, it mentioned that there were many long serving members of the club over the years. These included Alderman William H. Grimshaw, captain of the club who had died in May that year and was a member from 1895, being president and captain "who worthily upheld the fine traditions of his predecessors ". Other members listed in the 1937 history included:
James Meadowcroft J.P., a trustee who had also joined in 1895, he died on the 4th August 1951.
William Wilson (1896), resigned in 1946.
William W. Wilkinson (1896), remained a member until 1945.
Peter Forbes (1898), died in 1939.
Robert Ferguson (1899), who was a past president and for many years secretary in succession to the late Mark N Margerison who served for a long period and current treasurer until 1949, then life president, dying 23rd November 1957.
Charles Baines (1899), past president, died 1947, as honorary life member.
Fred W Metcalfe (1901), died April 1938.
John Farrow (1902), past president, died May 1938.
Secretary, George Rimmer (1902), past president, was a member until 1955.
John McVittie (1903) who was also connected with the Blackburn Caledonian Curling Club which used the club for its meetings left the club in 1965.
The current president and councillor George Burke who died in 1946.
Secretary WilIiam E T Evans was to remain a member for many years.
The 1937 history also noted: "some current members well remember 'Billy' Evans and his better half being members in our time, still living on Strawberry Bank. He was made a life member and trustee while treasurer in 1965 and 1966 dying in 1978. The chief constable of the Borough Christopher Hodson OBE had joined in 1914 and was a member until he died in 1938".
Coronation year in 1953 saw a new cup 'The Coronation Cup', presented by Robert Ferguson, being played for on 2nd June and won by Chris Maudsley.
Of more recent years the longest serving member must be Francis Ewart Smith an accountant who joined in 1931, becoming assistant secretary in 1938, hon secretary in 1941, trustee and hon treasurer 1949 and 1950, president 1955, dying in 1980. He was a formidable character reminding one of that Dickensian character Mr Pickwick with his waistcoat and fob watch. His wife Marian was made a honorary life member in 1969 and died in 1981.
In 1951, a bi-centenary celebration was held coinciding with the Borough's own Centenary. The 150 members were invited to “take tea with the president and captain" on Saturday 11th August. A match took place between the President's team and the Captain's team for the Rowntree Cup. Women were not allowed on the premises, except on the most important occasions. And, then only, as catering assistants. The introduction of a billiard table some ten years before had been frowned on, when an enthusiastic member suggested one. Eventually a point was conceded to the younger generation, and a small table was allowed. “Younger Generation" in the club meant anyone under 50 years of age.
In 1956, a revolutionary step was being considered, that of admitting women members. Why? Because, they had finally come to the conclusion that the club couldn't carry on without them. Funds were low - and knowing that behind the funds of most organisations in those days led the magic touch of the women - their all-male resolve had been weakened. Considering was still the operative word though. For after taking so long to broach the subject, the men weren't likely to be up to a year or so in making their decision.
They had actually started thinking about it the previous year. But on an August Saturday, the biggest step forward was taken when wives of members were actually invited to the green, for the first ever Ladies' Day.
The idea of the occasion was for the men to discover their opinions on the subject. Mr Frank H Lloyd, the president, was all in favour of a mixed membership. “We need help in raising money, and I have no objection to mixed company" he said. Mr Francis E Smith, the chairman, supported him. “Many members have not been attending regularly in recent years, and I think they would if they could bring their wives along". Committee member Mr Robert Wilkinson (uncle to present members Dorothy Kenyon, Joan Smith and Leslie Greenhalgh) said “I am in a cricket club, where the ladies play a big part, and do it well. So I would be very happy to see them here".
There were a few male dissenters though. But their dark mutterings: “Why should we admit wives after all this time - is nothing sacred?" were severely muffled on Saturday.
It would have taken a brave man to voice them when the wives were present in force. And what of the wives?
“It's about time, too," was the opinion of Mrs Lloyd and Mrs Wilkinson when they heard the suggestion.
“Times have changed, and these days wives aren't expected to stay at home while their husbands go out."
Another wife remarked “Now my husband can stay in and look after the children, while I go to the club for a game of bowls, for a change."
It took until 1964 to eventually' bite the bullet' and ladies were admitted. 17 in all joined at a £ ls Od per annum fee growing to 32 in 3 years.
The Captain's Cup for Ladies was introduced in 1966 and has been played for ever since.
In 1970, the club decided to enter a team in the Blackburn & District Bowls League with eight players and two reserves. They were accepted to play in Division 5. For the first two years they were bottom of the league but then they commenced to climb. Two years later, they entered the Darwen League and by 1976, a 'B' Team had followed into the Blackburn League. By 1978, a Ladies' Team had entered the Blackburn Ladies' Bowling League.
The highlight came in 1980 when the Darwen Team won the Darwen & District Bowling League Division Four Championship by beating Crown Paints 12-8 and so picking up the club's first trophy in 231 years. Team captain Ron Simms was delighted: “Everybody is very pleased that after years of trying we have finally won a trophy," he said.
A great deal of credit for this initial success must undoubtedly go to experienced Roe Lee campaigner, Jack Wilkinson, (president in 1986). Since joining the club about two years before, Jack's enthusiastic and encouraging approach had been responsible for a resurgence of interest, leading to this success. He took over as greenkeeper and did an excellent job on almost a daily basis despite living in Great Harwood. He died on 26th December 2010 but Ruth, his wife, is still a member.
In the early 80s, the club entered a snooker team into a league formed with East Lanc's called the Parkside Snooker League. The Sportsman, West View, Gibraltar and other public houses around the Corporation Park area all took part. Winning the Team K/O Cup was the highlight of our membership but when the officials of the league, which had grown considerably, decided to have the season in the summer, the conflict with the bowls season meant that we had to pull out and look for an alternative league. We joined the Blackburn Sunday School League, of long standing, and our 3/4 table was accepted despite the league being for big tables. Our membership continues still.
It was decided in 1984, to put the club and green on the map, that an Open Doubles Competition should be started commemorating 250 years of the club's history and would be known as “The Anniversary Cup". It was a sponsored event with the cup being donated by Daniel Thwaites. Appropriately, two club members, Jack Wilkinson and Fred Almond won the first event. Many of the area's best bowlers took part as can be seen by the list of winners:
1985 D Wyche (Crown Paints) & David Howorth (St Stephen's)
1986 Mick Chapman & Mick O'Donnell (Highfield Park)
1987 Alan Cottom & A Whittaker (St Philip's)
1988 B Topham & A Catlow (Blackburn Subs)
1989 S Oakland & D Helmn (Everton Street)
1990 no event
1991 H Warren & S Connelly
1992 Vinny O'Donnell & J Chatburn
1993 M Burns & D Hoyle
1994 Fred Almond & Jack Wilkinson
1995 John Bentley & B Gosling
The competition foundered because of lack of sponsorship and organizers.
The first ever senior county match was held on the green on a Sunday, before 3rd July 1986 following a most successful junior county match. The match was against Greater Manchester in the British Crown Green Crossfield Cup. Local home players were Highfield trio Roy Rigby, Mike Chapman and Mike O'Donnell along with Keith Cooper of East Lanc's followed by David Haworth, Harry Burgoyne, John Kilcoyne, Colin Campbell, Fred Whittle, Eric Lomax, Terry Connell and Brian Tomlinson.
Since then, the club has hosted the Ladies' County Bowlers.
The Moorfield Trophy of the Darwen & District Bowling League was won in 1985. In 1987, the Blackburn A. Team were in the 1st Division and, the following year, the Darwen Team won the Sports Team of the Year in the Darwen League. The year after that, the Ladies' Team were the champions of the Blackburn Ladies' Bowling League, the first of many.
More honours have followed from all the teams and individuals representing the club and these can be seen in the Honours Board in the Appendix.
Another step forward was made in 1992 when Mrs Pat Riley was elected the first ever woman president, her husband having been president in 1985. She succeeded Ray B Smith, twice president, who had joined in 1965.
Another president for the second time, John Clough, joined on the 7th February 1978, was captain in 1979, hon. secretary from 1980-83, becoming president for the first time in 1989 and second time 2012, serving for many years on the committee including green keeper.
On Monday 23rd February 2017 at an Extra-Ordinary Meeting the members voted to sell the club due to the amount of monies needed to be spent on the fabric of the buildings and surroundings and not able to get grants towards the costs.
List of Stewards (or Honorary Secretaries) in its early years. The term steward was dropped in 1877 in favour of Hon. Secretary. 1906 saw the introduction of a Hon. Treasurer and in 1909 the title of Captain was introduced with a Vice-Captain; their job was being in charge of the green.
1753-54 John Sudell
1755 Richard Smalley
1756 Thomas Ainsworth
1757 Thomas Brewer
1758 John Parker
1759 Thomas Bolton
1760 Henry Heaton
1761 Dr T Harris
1762 Henry Sudell jnr.
1763/64 Joseph Brown
1765/66/67 John Talbot
1768 William Margerison
1769 Thomas Roberts
1770 John Yates
1771 Thomas Wright
1772 Robert Hornby
1773 Bertie Markland
1774 William Whaley
1775 Robert Hornby
1776 Walton Freckleton
1777 Robert Parker
1778 Christopher Marsden
1779 John Wilson
1780 Robert Ashburner
List of Presidents from 1881 prior to which the leading figure was the chairman
Members who have been Mayors of Blackburn Borough
1851-52 Alderman W H Hornby Snr. MP JP DL
1856-57 Councillor William Pilkington JP
1860-61 Alderman Thomas Thwaites JP
1865-66 Alderman James Thompson JP
1866-67 Alderman John Dean JP
1872-73 Alderman John Thompson JP
1873-74 Alderman John Pickup (Pickop) JP
1874-75 Councillor Sir William Coddington Bart JP
1877-78 Alderman James Dickinson JP
1882-84 Alderman James Hoyle JP
1910-11 Alderman W H Hornby Snr MP JP DL (2 terms)
1914-15 & 17 Alderman William Thompson JP
1915-17 Alderman Alfred Nuttall JP (died in office)
1927-29 Councillor John Aspden Ormerod JP
1931-33 Alderman William Kenyon JP
1940-41 Councillor William Tempest JP
2001-02 Councillor John Williams
2010-11 Councillor Sheila June Williams
List of prominent members over the years
John Sudell gent.; was son of Mr Henry Sudell cotton manufacturer of Woodfold Hall and was born in December 1729 and was thus 24yrs old in 1753. Both were governors of Blackburn Grammar school. He died aged 55 on 29th May, 1785. Henry Sudell snr joined the club in 1755 and died in 1770.
John Whalley gent.; lived in the large brick house that formerly stood on the site of the Bank of Messrs Cunliffe Brooks & Co opposite the Old Bull. He was a leading townsman, and brother to James Whalley Esq. of Clerk Hall, near Whalley. He died in 1767.
John Hankinson gent.; was a governor of Blackburn Grammar school in December 1761, and a wealthy, well-connected townsman, he died in 1774.
Joseph Feilden gent.; of Church Street, ancestor of the Feilden's of Witton Park. He was a young man when he became a subscriber in 1753 or 1754. His wife was Margaret, daughter and heir of William Leyland Esq. Of Blackburn. He succeeded to the estate of the family as heir to his brother John in 1771 and died in December 1792. He was great grand sire of Lieutenant-General Feilden MP of Witton Park.
Thomas Livesey; was a merchant in Blackburn born in 1734. A member of a collateral branch of the Livesey's of Livesey Hall. He joined the club at 21 years of age living in the old-fashioned stone house on the north side of King Street. He was elected a governor of Blackburn Grammar school in 1755 and 1769 Messrs.
Thomas Livesey & Co. of Blackburn were bleachers between Rishton and Whitebirk. He subsequently became head of a noted firm of calico printers at Mosney in Walton le Dale. His sister Miss Alice Livesey married Mr Henry Sudell jnr.
Thomas Brewer; was a chapman in Blackburn and was Steward in 1757 and continued as a member until 1768. He died in 1801. At one time the Brewer family owned Shadsworth.
Thomas Bolton; a chapman of Brookhouse was elected Steward in 1759 and was made a governor of Blackburn Grammar school in 1761. He died in 1803 aged 73.
William Leyland; merchant, in his will of 1763 left £200 for the foundation of the Girls' Charity School. He lived in a house he built in 1741 at the top of King Street. He died in November 1764.
Richard Cardwell; was the first of the Cardwell's to settle in Blackburn. His first wife was Miss Martha Holme the daughter of Rev John Holme who was the Vicar of Blackburn. He died 10th March 1785 aged 79yrs.
List of Club Honours
ROLL OF HONOUR
1978 B Riley Winner President's Trophy Blackburn Ladies' Bowling League
1980 A Team Champions Division 4 Darwen & District Bowling League
1982 A Team Champions Division 5 Blackburn & District Bowling League
1982 A Team R/U Division 3 Darwen & District Bowling League
1983 A Team Champions Division 4 Blackburn & District Bowling League
1983 A Team R/U Division 2 Darwen & District Bowling League
1983 B Team Champions Division 4 Darwen & District Bowling League
1985 A Team Winners Moorfield Trophy Darwen & District Bowling League
1985 B Team R/U Division 4 Darwen & District Bowling League
1986 A Team Champions Division 3 Blackburn & District Bowling League
1986 A Team R/U Division 2 Darwen & District Bowling League
1987 A Team R/U Division 2 Blackburn & District Bowling League
1987 R Briggs Merit Winner Division 2 Blackburn & District Bowling League
1988 Club Winners Sports Team of the Year Darwen & District Bowling League
1989 A Team Champions Division 3 Blackburn & District Bowling League
1989 Ladies' A Champions Division 1 Blackburn Ladies' Bowling League
1989 J Smith R/U Ladies' Town Bowls
1990 A Team R/U Division 2 Darwen & District Bowling League
1991 J & R B Smith Winners Borough of Blackburn Mixed Pairs
1992 J Martindale R/U Presidents' Cup Darwen & District Bowling League
1993 A Team R/U Division 2 Darwen & District Bowling League
1993 D Proud-Briggs & R Briggs Winners Scapa Scania Doubles
1994 Ladies' A R/U Division 1 Blackburn Ladies' Bowling League
1994 D Proud-Briggs R/U Presidents Cup Darwen & District Bowling League
1995 A Team Champions Division 2 Darwen & District Bowling League
1995 B Team R/U Division 4 Darwen & District Bowling League
1995 Ladies' A Champions Division 1 Blackburn Ladies' Bowling League
1996 Team R/U Division 3 Blackburn Indoor Bowling League
1997 D Proud-Briggs Winner Max Forrest Blackburn & District Bowling League
1998 Ladies' A Champions Division 1 Blackburn Ladies' Bowling League
1999 B Team Champions Division 5 Blackburn & District Bowling League
1999 B Team R/U Division 4 Darwen & District Bowling League
2001 A Team R/U Division 2 Darwen & District Bowling League
2003 B Team Champions Division 4 Darwen & District Bowling League
2003 Ladies' A R/U Division 1 Blackburn Ladies' Bowling League
2004 Ladies' A Champions Division 1 Blackburn Ladies' Bowling League
2005 A Team Champions Division 2 Darwen & District Bowling League
2005 J Rushton Winner President's Trophy Blackburn Ladies' Bowling League
2006 A Team R/U Division 3 Blackburn & District Bowling League
2006 Team Champions Division 2 Blackburn Vets League
2006 T Hindle Winner Merit Trophy Division 2 Blackburn Vets League
2006 R B Smith R/U Individual Merit Trophy K/O Darwen & District Bowling Leagu
2006 R B Smith Winner Division 3 Merit Blackburn & District Bowling League
2006 JT & J Martindale Winners Mixed Doubles Darwen & District Bowling League D & M Harvey R/U
2007 R B Smith Winner David Whittaker Memorial Trophy
2008 J & R B Smith R/U Mixed Doubles Darwen & District Bowling League
2008 J & R B Smith R/U Registered Doubles Darwen & District Bowling League
2008 R B Smith R/U David Whittaker Memorial Trophy
2008 Team R/U Division 2 Blackburn Vets League
2008 Ladies' A R/U Division 1 Blackburn Ladies' Bowling League
2009 Ladies' A Winners Coronation Cup Blackburn Ladies' Bowling League
2009 J Smith Winner President's Trophy Blackburn Ladies' Bowling League
2009 Ladies' A R/U Division 1 Blackburn Ladies' Bowling League
2009 F Almond Winner Merit Trophy Blackburn Vets League
2009 J & W Catterall R/U Mixed Doubles Darwen & District Bowling League
2010 Ladies' A Winners Coronation Cup Blackburn Ladies' League
2010 J Smith Winner President's Trophy Blackburn Ladies' Bowling League
2010 JT & J Martindale Winners Mixed Doubles Darwen & District Bowling League
2010 Ladies' A R/U Division 1 Blackburn Ladies' Bowling League
2011 Ladies' A Winners Coronation Cup Blackburn Ladies' League
2011 J Martindale & R B Smith R/U Reg Doubles Darwen & District Bowling League
2011Blackburn Vets Winners Division 2 Blackburn Vets League
2011 P Allen Merit Winner Division 2 Blackburn Vets League
2011 Ladies' A R/U Blackburn Ladies' League
2011 Blackburn A Winners Div 3 Blackburn & District Bowling League
2011 Darwen A Winners Div 3 Darwen & District Bowling League
2011 Ladies' Team R/U Ladies' Afternoon League
2012 Darwen A R/U Moorfield Trophy Darwen & District Bowling League
2012 Blackburn B R/U Division 4 Blackburn & District Bowling League
2012 D Kenyon Merit Winner Division 4 Blackburn & District Bowling League
2016 Ladies' team R/U Blackburn Ladies' League
PRESIDENTS OF BLACKBURN SUBSCRIPTION BOWLING GREEN CLUB
1881-3 Henry Backhouse (councillor & solicitor) 81 Preston New Road
1884-7 John Chamley (wine & spirit merchant) East Bank 26 Shear Bank Road
1888 Alfred Nuttall JP (brewery owner) Shear Bank
1899-1900 William Henry Cunliffe (painter & decorator company) Eldon Place Preston New Road
1901 John Halliday
1902 John Frankland (photographer) 40 Preston New Road
1903 William Spencer Livesey (mill Manager) 20 Shear Brow
1904 Thomas Ferguson
1905 James Livesey (cotton manufacturer) Sunnyhurst Limefield Preston New Road
1906-7 William Bury (brush manufacturer) 81 Alexandra Road
1908 William Henry Grimshaw (alderman & chemist) 3 East Park Road
1909 John Myers (brush maker) Bridge End House 58 Church Street|
1910 James Hargreaves (tobacco wholesaler) Barscroft Meins Road
1911 Richard Birtwistle (cotton manufacturer) Nether1eigh 44 Shear Bank Road
1912 Char1es Baines (hatter & glover) 28 Revidge Road
1913 John William Green (salesman) 23 East Park Road
1914 Thomas Abbott Leaver (painter & decorator) 1 London Road (J Leaver & Sons)
1915 Thomas Sharples (alderman & solicitor) 152 Preston New Road
1916-18 Richard Smith (cotton manufacturer) 271 Preston New Road
1919 James Frankland (quarry master) Whalley New Road
1920 Harold Read (schoolmaster) 107 Langham Road
1921 William Kenyon JP (alderman & billposting manager) 22 Holland Street
1922-23 Robert Ferguson (solicitor) Beardwood 108 Preston New Road
1924 George Rimmer (schoolmaster) 63 East Park Road
1925 John Thomas Rowntree (heald & reed manufacturer) 19 Duke's Brow
1926 Thomas Hargreaves (wholesale tobacconist) Dunedin Billinge Avenue
1927 James Smith (cotton manufacturer) 18 East Park Road
1928 George William Singleton (cotton salesman) 77 Shear Brow
1929 Thomas Stirrup (boot & shoe maker) 33 Wellington Street St John's
1930 Robert Eastwood (clerk)44 Palmer Street
1931 Frank Airey (plumber) 2 Brantfell Road
1932 J Whalley
1933 John Farrow (cashier) 193 London Road
1934 Walter Henry Duckworth (alderman & building contractor) Gadshill Shear Bank Road
1935-6 Char1es Tate (union secretary) 161 Pleckgate Road
1937 George Burke (alderman & cotton manufacturer) West Bank Preston New Road
1938 William Ashworth JP (plumber) 113 Duke's Brow
1939 Walter Dawson (shuttle maker) 44 Wellington Street St John's
1940-1 John Fairhurst (Howarth's) 40 Wellington Street St John's
1942 Joseph Livesey (building contractor) Fox Lease Mollington Road
1943 Alfred Percy Yates (draper) 210 Revidge Road
1944 J Isherwood
1945 William E T Evans (traveller) 8 Strawberry Bank
1946 John William Thomber 55 Pleckgate Road
1947 Frank Robinson (asphalt contractor) 30 East Park Road
1948 William Byrom (auctioneer & valuer) 6 Taunton Road
1949 Robert Marsden (wholesale draper) 7 Azalea Road
1950 A L Wilkinson
1951 Raymond Carter (fertilizer manufacturer) 109 Preston New Road
1952 George B Lewney B Sc (schoolmaster) 28 Albany Road
1953 James Liversedge (boot dealer) 10 King Street
1954 Arthur Greensmith (confectioner) 284 Preston New Road
1955 Francis Ewart Smith (accountant) 10 Osbome Road
1956 Frank H Lloyd (haulier) 104 Lynwood Road
1957 Percival C Smith (house furnisher) 2 East Park Avenue
1958 Chris Maudsley (insurance superintendent) 41 Duke's Brow
1959 William Gill (plumber & sanitary inspector) 7 Shear Bank Gardens
1960 Robert Wilkinson (decorator) 193 London Road
1961 Alan J Meadowcroft (essences manufacturer)
1962 Bert R Nutter (engineer) 79 Yew Tree Drive
1963 Harold Rodwell Petre House Farm Langho
1964 Bruce K Critchley (decorators merchant) Under Billinge
1965 John Fairhurst (Howarths) 40 Wellington Street St John's
1966-7 Geoffrey M Taylor (estate agent) 4 Church Lane Mellor
1968 G Reginald White (Public Health Inspector to Rural Dist Council)
1969 Oscar R T Ashcroft
1970 J Arthur Kenyon
1971 William Akers
1972 Kenneth C Holt
1973 John Harrison
1974 Alan W Forrest
1975 Albert F Harwood
1976 John Curren
1977 Derek A Cooper
1978 Harry Neumark
1979 Arthur Greenhalgh
1980 Stanley W Maidman
1981 Raymond B Smith
1982 Ronald Simms
1983 N Kenneth Riley
1984 David Wilkinson
1985 Donald Riley
1986 Jack Wilkinson
1987 Brian Topham
1988 Geoffrey Kenyon
1989 John T Clough
1990 Peter Allen
1991 Raymond B Smith
1992 Patricia A Riley first lady president
1993-4 Norman Oldham
1995-6 James Martindale
1997 Doreen Gill
1998 Jean Rushton
1999 Joan Smith
2000 Margaret Curren
2001 Kenneth Elvin
2002 Kenneth Price
2003 Joan Gallimore
2004 Deidre Allen
2005-6 William Catterall
2007 Anne Kinder
2008-9 Denise Harvey
2010-11 Dorothy Kenyon
2012 John T Clough
2013 Norman Oldham
2014 Susan Magee
2015 Terry Hindle
2016 Michael Harvey
List of Blackburn's Bowling Greens
1 Blackburn Subscription Cicely Hole (1749) present green Shear Bank Road 1869
1 Red Lion Snig Brook (1820)
1 Bowling Green St Paul's Street (1820)
1 Thunder Alley (Town Hall Street) 1822 (closed pre. 1848)
1 Burnley Road Bowling Club (post 1911)
3 Corporation Park (1857) first 2 greens opened in 1923
1 Feniscowles & Pleasington Bowling club Livesey Branch Road (opened 16/4/1921)
4 Queen's Park (1887) 2 greens added in1932
3 Roe Lee Park (1923) green opened 30/5/1923
4 Green Park (2 in 1923 with 2 later)
2 Highfield Park (1900)
1 (2) East Lancashire Club (1878) (green after 1890)
1 Cherry Tree (Scapa) opened 12/6/1920
1 Lower Darwen Memorial (1919)
1 Dugdale Memorial Club (St Philip's) (1921)
1 Witton Subscription (pre. 1931)
1 Audley House Working Men's (1881-closed 2002)
1 St Stephen's (Little Harwood Hall) (pre. 1931)
1 Lower Darwen Memorial Bowling Club (1928)
1 Park Lee Hospital
1 Tramways Dept Accrington Road (1926-35)
1 Alexandra Hotel (pre. 1900)
1 Bowling Green Hotel Eanam (1809)
1 Bowling Green Inn Scotland Road (1874)
1 Butler's Arms Pleasington (1846)
1 Cemetery Hotel Whalley New Road (1931)
1 Cunliffe & Ward Ltd Gate Street
1 Fernhurst Hotel Ewood
1 Florence Hotel Moss Street (pre. 1900-closed aft 1910)
1 George & Dragon Northgate (1807)
1 The Griffin's Head Inn Redlam (1844)
1 Hamilton Arms Hollin Bridge Street (1870)
1 Hole I'th Wall Shear Brow (pre. 1903-1931)
1 Little Harwood Inn Whalley Old Road (1931)
1 Livesey New Inn (Factory Arms Inn) Waterloo Livesey Branch Road (pre. 1890-closed 1930s)
1 Mill Hill Hotel Mill Hill Bridge Street (1902)
1 Old Mother Redcap Accrington Road (1841)
1 Oozehead Inn Manor Road (pre. 1900-1931)
1 Railway Hotel (Pleasington Bowling club) Pleasington (1858)
1 Red Lion Whitebirk (1854)
1 Royal Edward Inn Harwood Street (1910)
1 Royal Park Inn Addison Street (1868)
1 Stanley Arms Garden Street (green on Bridgewater Street) (1868)
1 Private Green Dunsley Pleckgate Road
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