ARBROATH Bowling Club is celebrating the 150th anniversary of its founding this year.
Bowling clubs up and down Great Britain appeared in the 1800s. The game of bowls was probably played on the commons of Arbroath prior to 1860, but it was in April of that year that the Town Council recommended the laying down of a bowling green for the use of the community on the south east corner of what was known as the Cannon Common, which was later occupied by the public tennis courts opposite the bathing pool.
Early in 1861 a two-rink green was laid down and properly fenced and that was the birthplace of Arbroath Bowling Club with its first membership numbering around 12 players.
The club continued to play there for five years when the green became very over-crowded. In 1866 the club moved up to Dishland Hill where three rinks were laid down but by the end of 1879 the six-rink green was provided for members.
Play began on the new green on May 5, 1880. Mr James Littlejohn of the Red Lion Inn was the first president in a line of 105 to date and Mr William Cargill, president from 1868 to 1872 was the very first 50-year member of the club. Interestingly the mill owner Francis Webster is the longest standing president from 1880 to 1896.
Although the game itself has not changed over the years, Arbroath Bowling Club has changed in numerous ways. The annual membership fees have risen from the original 10 shillings (50p) to the current cost of £105 and the actual club has grown, both in membership and structure.
The original veranda has undergone a transformation from what was really a small shed with no heating to the modern building that can be seen today. In the early days of the club there was no space for end-of-season dances which would be held at the Imperial Hotel which was at that time owned by a club member, or even for the annual general meeting which would be held at the Masonic Hall in Hill Street.
The Arbroath Bowling Club is proud of its heritage and delighted to be celebrating 150 years in operation in this, the Year of the Light.