History (Continued)

THE MOVE TO THE STRATHMORE ROAD GREEN

At a special meeting of club members held on 3 October 1879, the following petition with 28 signatories was presented:

“A very general desire has been expressed among the bowlers that the time has now come when we ought to look after the formation of a new Bowling Green and with this end in view the subscribers respectfully request the Directors to call a meeting of the whole Club on an early date to discuss the matter and arrange as to future proceedings”.

There was general agreement that a new green was needed because of the deteriorating condition of the existing green. It was in the middle of what was now an overcrowded area of old Hamilton. Because of the influx of people looking for employment in the surrounding mines and ironworks, the old houses in the streets around the bowling green had virtually become Victorian slums. Furthermore, streets like Young Street which was immediately beside the green had become notorious with the police as areas of crime and disorder.

In looking for a new suitably level site, the members of the club were conscious of the need to have the green in a convenient location but not too close to the hurly-burly of the town centre. The bowlers wanted to have some privacy.
An ideal position proposed by several members was to be found on a piece of land to the west of Hamilton Old Parish Church, beside the Cholera Burial Ground and on the edge of steeply sloping banks above the Cadzow Burn.

The directors of the club set up a sub committee to undertake the negotiations and the subsequent arrangements for setting up the new green. This New Green Committee met regularly from late 1879 until February 1881 and in that remarkably short period of the time they succeeded in obtaining a lease for the land, planning the layout of the green and supervising all the necessary work, including the building of the bowl house.

The lease on the site was agreed, initially for 25 years at a charge of twenty pounds a year. This was finalised in November 1879 and the club’s lease was to begin in June 1880.

Work proceeded quickly with the surveying and planning of the green and all the associated construction work. After receiving tenders from several contractors the work of cutting, draining and levelling the ground was given to a local company whose price was two hundred and fourteen pounds nine shillings.

Particularly careful consideration was given to the business of obtaining the all-important turf for the green. Initially a deputation of members visited a site near Irvine where suitably fine and durable grass was to be found. After taking advice from a Glasgow greenkeeper, however, the sub committee decided to buy their turf from an estate near the Holy Loch on the north side of the Firth of Clyde. To inspect that turf, to purchase it and to arrange for transporting it to Hamilton was a complex assignment for the group of members involved. The total weight of the load was 95.5 tons and this had to be shipped in four separate cargoes from Holy Loch to Port Glasgow, then to be taken by slow, horse-drawn carts to the new site in Hamilton.
The bowl house was designed by a local architect, William Paterson, and in its general style and in the facilities which it would be providing it, understandably, met with the general satisfaction of all the members.

After receiving tenders for the construction of the bowl house from local tradesmen, the New Green Committee agreed to award the various contracts at the most competitive prices: brick and mason work for sixty pounds, joiner work for seventy six pounds, plumbing work for thirty two pounds and channel and gratings around the green for twenty pounds.

The roof of the bowl house was slated free of charge by William McGhie, a local tradesman, who was also a member of the club. In return for this he was offered life membership but he later insisted on paying his annual subscription.
Quite remarkably, most of the work of constructing the green and building the bowl house was completed in time for the opening ceremony on 17 August 1880. The new green was formally opened by Sir John Watson of Earnock.
This whole ambitious undertaking had cost Hamilton Bowling Club approximately five hundred pounds. Of that, over two hundred pounds was raised through subscriptions and other donations. The remaining sum was borrowed and the loan was paid off gradually over the following years.

By the end of the 1880 season, then, the Club had two bowling greens and they were both closed on 27 October. That was to be the end of the club’s association with its old green. From season 1881 onwards Hamilton Bowling Club was located up the hill in its fine new open site beside what was later to be called Strathmore Road.
 

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