History (Continued)


In many respects, the story of Hamilton Bowling Club since its centenary has been a story of consolidation and improvement rather than radical change. The annual programme of the club, the management by office bearers and directors, the membership numbers, the associated sections for ladies and for winter activities and the links with the Scottish Bowling Association and the Lanarkshire Bowling Association have all remained constant features of the club.

There have, however, been certain important developments in the club which have illustrated its flexibility as well as concern for tradition and standards. These developments have mainly been about the green and the club house and about arrangements for membership.

The day to day up-keep of the green continued to be the responsibility of a greenkeeper employed by the club each season and, if suitable, paid a retaining fee during the winter. During the 1950’s the club even bought a house for the greenkeeper in Chapel Street. This whole business of employing someone to look after the green was, of course, a substantial responsibility for the directors of the club. In 1972 the directors decided to change the arrangements for the up-keep of the green. Instead of appointing a greenkeeper they drew up a contract with a local firm of gardeners to do the necessary work. It was probably a sign of the times that the club felt it necessary to take this course of action.

There were other signs of the times which produced changes in the arrangements for the green and the clubhouse. The growing importance of the car, for example, had its effect on the club. There was an increasing need for parking space close to the bowling green. In 1980, therefore, the directors purchased, on behalf of the club a lane running down beside the green, parallel to Strathmore Road, leading to the foot bridge over to Hamilton Grammar School. The piece of ground beside Strathmore Road was duly cleared and converted into a car park for members.

The surroundings of the green, the paths, flowerbeds and walls were all redesigned and constructed from 1959 and during the early 60’s. This enhancement of the club’s property was carried out as a gift by one of its longest standing members, James J. Wilson.

There was regular talk of extension to the club house. Perhaps the most significant extension took place in 1970/71 and this produced the building, more or less in its present form.

The male membership of the club remained fairly constant at around 120. Of course, the Ladies’ Section continued and thrived in its particular relationship to the rest of the club.

One very visible change for the members of the club was the introduction of club blazers and badges in 1952. Since these have become so much a part of the culture of bowling clubs, it is perhaps slightly surprising to note that they were introduced comparatively recently in the history of the game in Hamilton and in Scotland. But, sure enough, the old photographs of the club events in pre war and in immediate post war years show members in suits or sports jackets. It was in 1952, then, that the directors of the club received various designs for a club badge and decided on the one which showed Hamilton Mausoleum as the symbol of the burgh. Since then the wearing of the blazer, the badge, the club tie and appropriate lapel badges has been expected of members on special occasions at the green and at matches against other clubs.

Although Hamilton Bowling Club has retained its identity and traditions in the burgh of Hamilton, there are some respects in which it has become less of an “establishment” club. For example, for most of the first hundred years of its existence the club boasted the patronage of the Dukes of Hamilton and it often included among its office bearers, presidents or honorary members, provosts and bailies of the town. In the years after World War II, however, these trappings of recognition in high places clearly became less important to the club. The presidents, other office bearers and directors were chosen more for their ability to manage the affairs of the club.
These recent decades, then, have seen the club retain its strength and confidence, its intention to develop and improve the facilities for its members to play the game of bowls and its flexibility to adapt to our changing times.

This History of Hamilton Bowling Club has been abridged and adapted from the book “Hamilton Bowling Club 1841—1991”


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