Monday 11 Dec 2017

History

 

HISTORY OF THE WEST END BOWLING CLUB

THE BEGINNING

It all started at Ropner Park when it opened its first bowling green in 1893. By early 1895 Ropner Park Bowling Club was established, and in the same year Cleveland and South Durham Bowls league was founded. With the growth in popularity and increase in bowling members Stockton Council laid a second green at Ropner Park in 1902. The new second green being opened on the 4th of June 1903 by Sir Robert Ropner M.P.

The Northern Echo newspaper report on the Ropner Park Bowling Club Annual General Meeting of 1903 stated;

 

ROPNER PARK BOWLING CLUB AGM 1903

There was a large gathering of bowlers at Tate’s Café, Stockton, last night when the annual meeting took place of the Ropner Park Club.

The report of the Secretary, Mr C. Jackson, expressed regret that the club had fallen from the premier to the lowest position on the local league table.

The new green had unfortunately turned out to be a lamentable failure. The Corporation had asked the contractor to inspect it, and it was hoped the defects would be remedied.

The financial report showed a balance in hand of £2-5s-7d. Mr J.J. Peacock was re-elected president and Mr C. Jackson Hon. Sec.

The President presented the following prizes won during the past season:- Club medal and championship MR A.E. Richardson; second prize Mr W. Cunningham; bowls competition Mr W. Smith; rink competition Messrs A. Hunton, J. Taylor, and E. Clennett.

It was stated during the course of the proceedings that some of the members had formed a new club in connection with the Ropner Park.

The members referred to had formed ‘West End Bowling Club’

The annual report to the Cleveland and South Durham Bowling league made on 17th February 1904 stated that Darlington North Road Park and Stockton West End Bowling Clubs had applied for admission to the league.

The latter were opposed by the Stockton Ropner Park Club, on the ground there was only one green fit to play League matches on at the park, which the new club proposes to make its headquarters, and there was not room for the two. The Darlington Club was elected by 14 to 12, but subsequently it was agreed, upon the casting vote of the chairman in opposition to a resolution that they be admitted without any condition, that if, as anticipated, the Stockton Recreation Club dropped out the West End Club should be admitted upon finding a green other than the Ropner Park.

At the councils Cemetery and Parks committee meeting of 22nd February 1904 it was stated that Stockton West End Bowling Club had applied for 4 rinks reserved for them one night per week. The minutes read; “Stockton West End Bowling Club – Resolved – That the application of the Secretary of this club to be allowed to have four rinks on the New Green reserved for them one night per week be acceded to.”

It therefore followed that competitive bowling by the West End Bowling Club commenced in the summer of 1904 at Ropner Park.

 

EARLY BOWLING YEARS

The Cleveland & South Durham League at this time played ‘English Bowling Federation’ rules not ‘English Bowling Association’ rules. The Durham and Yorkshire Bowling Association formed in 1922 and opposed EBA rules up to 1927.

The West End Bowling Club Championship cup ‘The Nicholson Cup’ was originally named ‘The Challenge Cup’ and was presented to the club by the club’s first President George Nicholson in 1904. The first winner of the cup in 1904 was A. F. Jennings. With it being unusual for a club champion competition to be a two wood competition, we can only surmise that in the early days it was played for under EBF rules.

Newspaper reports in July 1906 still showed West End playing at Ropner Park.

At the Cleveland & South Durham League Annual General Meeting of 1919, which was held at the Royal Oak, Stockton, Stockton Munitions Workers and Burn Valley were admitted to the league. It was also agreed that matches were to begin week ending 24th May 1919. West End A being in Section A and West End B in Section B. This being the first time that West End had two teams in the same league, albeit in different sections.

Thursday 16th August 1923 :- Cleveland & South Durham Bowls League. Table of results for the championship show West End (Stockton) Section ‘A’ in top position with 18 points.

No bowls were played between 1915 and 1918, during the dark days of the Great War.

The Cleveland & South Durham League minute book shows that the following league management positions were held by West End members;

President 1911 T. A. Griffiths, West End
President 1926 J. W. Willey, West End
President 1927 J. W. Willey, West End
President 1936 R. Martin, West End.
West End won the league in 1912, 1913 & 1914.

In 1993 a historic pair of bowls inlaid with silver and dated 1907 were passed on to the club. They are marked with the name ‘T. A. Griffiths’, who was president of the club in 1912 and 1913. The woods had been sold to a bowler by the name of Jimmy Crawford, of South Road, Norton, several years earlier, Jimmy had them stored in his loft. The woods were passed into the custody of the West End Bowling Club in April 1993 by Jimmy and officially handed over by ex Mayor of Stockton Councillor Stephen Smailes to Geoff Roberts who was President Elect that year. The woods are mounted and on display within the Club.

 


SITE AND BUILDING DEVELOPMENT

A group of out of work ex servicemen laid down the Green in 1923. The current car park was at that time tennis courts to which it is believed the original ‘Green Hut’ belonged to.

One of the first references to bowling on the new green (current premises) was a match between Ropner Park and West End played on Friday 25th June 1926. Ropner Park being represented by players who took part in the game on the old green (Ropner Park) and included members who had been associated with the club for 25 years.

In 1953 a small group of committee members got together to consider an extension to the existing facility. Their labours resulted in an extension being put on in 1955/56. The committee of the club opened this first extension, when Norman Clark was president.

In 1961 Bill Stainby, who was in plant hire & Arthur Fairless the then Chairman of Fairless Engineering were the instigators for a club-house building works proposals to be put together. This consisted of the original green hut being demolished and replaced by what is now the main body of the club house, together with a snooker room facility having one table. The new facilities were opened during 1962/63.

In February 1975 the landscape at the entrance to the club changed due to the disused railway bridge over Darlington Road (it was then the A66) being demolished.

A planning application was made to Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council in 1976 for the ‘Erection of a Green Keepers Store’, this was passed and the store was bought and erected. This still stands in the corner of the car park.

In 1978 further extension proposals for the club house were put together. This consisted of extending the snooker room to accommodate two tables, build new toilet facilities and build a captains room. The clerk of works was Stan Hird. This project was completed in 1980 with the new facilities being opened by Leo Blackwell who was President that year. The captain’s room was formally opened by John Palmer together with the Captain of Mid-Surrey Bowling Club.

The bowling green surrounds were converted to artificial banks in January 1996. The Scottish contractor carrying out the work stayed at the Stockton Arms. How the installation was completed on time and to a good standard remains a mystery, due to the fact that between several pints of beer each day his labourer also consumed a bottle of vodka a day!

During the winter months of 1993 new clubhouse roof proposals were put together by a sub-committee consisting of Geoff Roberts (President), Stan Hird and Bob Scotson (Trustees) and Ian Ritchie. An Extraordinary General Meeting of members was held on 23rd May 1994 to consider the various options. The pitched roof option (we currently have) was adopted. The roof project was completed in February 1995.

During the course of 2002 it was becoming quite clear that replacement bowls huts were required. A small sub-committee consisting of Jim Jamieson (Treasurer) & Peter Williamson (Committee member) put together proposals & drawings. The proposal for a new pavilion to be erected to coincide with the clubs centenary was put to the members at an Extraordinary General Meeting on Monday 8th July 2002. The proposal was endorsed by the members, resulting in contracts being let for various aspects of construction work. The new pavilion was officially opened on Saturday19th April 2003

In 2012 the club underwent refurbishment with redecorating through out and new windows and solar panels fitted to become more energy efficient.  A new purpose built green house with water butts and poly tunnel were installed on the land to the side of the club house allowing a greater range of plants to be grown.

 

LAND HISTORY 

(1 Acre, 1 Rood, 38 Perches) 

23rd September 1891.

 Henry John Curry had an agreement with Stockton-on-Tees for laying sewers through the land. 

5th July 1897. 

Henry George Curry, John Stapylton Sutton and George William Sutton sold the land to George Brown. 

9th March 1920.

George Brown (died 7th April 1919). His trustees George Carter and Charles Edward Faber sold the land for £164.00 to George Stainton, Robert Martin, Willian Murray and George Edward Clennett. 

Wards Directory 1926.

Is the first reference listing West End Bowling Club on Hartburn Lane.

19th May 1945.  

Robert Martin sold the land (George Stainton, Willian Murray and George Edward Clennett all deceased), to Harry Burgess Metcalfe for £1,000.00, together with the pavilion and other buildings erected or built thereon.

17th January 1955.

Harry Burgess Metcalfe sold the land to Trustees of WEBC for £1050.00 (George Lawrence Fordy, Granville Dronfield Hewitt, Thomas Albert Walker and Thomas Allan Kennedy.

Alan Godfrey Map 1964. 

Shows Bowling Green at West End.

7th November 1977.

Council of stockton-on-Tees sold to WEBC a strip of land on east boundary for £500.00 (Behind club house across to car park).

 


1970's - 1999

Unfortunately historical records such as minutes of meetings and club record books have been lost or mislaid over the years and information from within the club prior to the early 1970’s is therefore scant. However personal knowledge of some of the clubs development and success from members of long standing has helped to fill the gaps, and to those members we are grateful.

1978 was a very active year for the club and as can be seen from the following magazine and newspaper extracts the club was riding high.

In 1978 the Durham County EBA finals were held at the West End and the following is an extract from a bowls magazine of the day;

‘Durham County President, really making his mark in the Northern Counties, went out of his way to play host at the well appointed Stockton West End Bowling Club. John Palmer – Mr West End – had prepared the green with expert care. Ken Hiles, club president (himself a Durham County player), had his committee in full harness before, during and after the ties, to make the occasion a real gala. Many players and senior administrators thought the whole evening to be a record breaker. This was the first time in the club’s history for the finals. The guest list included Mal Hughes (Captain of England). Almost 400 people helped create a wonderful atmosphere on and off the green. The amenities are amongst the best in the Northern Counties and president Leo (Blackwell) deserves full marks for the special feast of entertainment. The meal was superb – thanks ladies.’

A newspaper report of 27th July 1978 by reporter Stan Patterson states;

‘Venues for county finals are always a bone of contention to the competitors and remain a controversial point throughout each season.

Having attended most finals since 1944, I have always found this to be so, despite the fact that the President of Durham County in his presidential year of office has the prerogative of staging these games, if in his opinion, the green is up to the required standard.

While Stockton West End has had its problems over the years as to the condition of the green, the President of Durham, Leo Blackwell, incidentally supported by his executive, can feel well satisfied.

I would go a stage further and say that in my book, it has been one of the best venues for many a day, not only green-wise, but in producing all the facilities needed for an occasion of this kind – seating capacity well taken care of, plus the necessary hospitality which is always the culmination of the evening’s bowling, proved beyond any doubt by the capacity following of the bowlers who attended’.

A further newspaper report of 1978 by Ken Craggill refers to an invitation singles match;

‘West End Bowling Club held an invitation singles and rinks bowls exhibition on Saturday when three internationals and a county player from Scotland opposed four internationals from England. Scotland came out on top in the singles winning 3–1 but the locals came good in the fours carding a 24–17 win.

The games were organised by Mr. Leo Blackwell, immediate past president of Durham C.B.A. and assistance was given by Mr. Ken Hiles, president and Don Stubbs, secretary’.

One of the main worries in the bowling calendar is the weather, over which of course we have no control. The West End has had its fair share of flooding over the years due to the rapid rise of the adjacent beck following heavy rain.

Whilst the years of 1998 and 2000 may not have been the worst for rain and flooding in the history of the club, they do however illustrate the problems faced when heavy rain is experienced and when the beck overflows.

2000 onwards

During 2002 the herringbone formation drains under the green were located together with the drainage pipe leading to the beck. The pipe into the beck was cleared out and exposed to provide a better outlet flow. The Green Committee volunteers ‘Vic Laycock, Dave Ridge & Bob Stephenson’ undertook this work. Unfortunately the inhabitants of a wasp nest did not take to kindly to Vic disturbing them whilst he was wading in the beck resulting in numerous stings about body and head.

In 2003 as part of Westends 100th aniversary a new pavillion was errected to replace the infamous green hut.

In 2010 Deryk Hunter won all 6 of the individual bowling titles he was eligible for and the following year 2011 he followed this feat up with winning the inaugural Durham County 4 bowl competition picking a 4 up on the last end to come from behind to win; both exceptional achievements. This year also saw the change in the club's constituition to allow ladies to be signed into  the club at any time.  


PRESIDENTS

YEAR

                           

YEAR

                           

YEAR

                              

1904

G.Nicholson

1946

R.Oliver

1988

I.McMillan

1905

 

1947

C.Stewart

1989

K.Lamb

1906

 

1948

S.Dumble

1990

P.S.Mallaby

1907

 

1949

T.Lloyd

1991

E.Wren

1908

 

1950

G.D.Hewitt

1992

G.A.Bradburn

1909

 

1951

T.H.Lewis

1993

K.J.E.Colwill

1910

 

1952

T.A.Walker

1994

G.Roberts

1911

 

1953

R.Johnston

1995

K.J.E.Colwill

1912

T.A.Griffiths

1954

M.Peacock

1996

K.J.E.Colwill

1913

T.A.Griffiths

1955

E.Lodge

1997

W.Millward D.F.M.

1914

 

1956

N.W.Clarke

1998

W.B.Johnson

1915

 

1957

W.A.Stainsby

1999

G.W.Taylor

1916

 

1958

J.F.Coffield

2000

G.W.Taylor

1917

 

1959

F.Hunter

2001

K.J.E.Colwill

1918

 

1960

C.Ball

2002

K.J.E.Colwill

1919

 

1961

A.D.Fairless

2003

K.J.E.Colwill

1920

 

1962

L.R.Davey

2004

K.J.E.Colwill

1921

 

1963

G.R.Hardy

2005

K.J.E.Colwill

1922

 

1964

N.W.Clarke

2006

K.J.E.Colwill

1923

 

1965

K.Atkinson M.B.E.

2007

K.J.E.Colwill

1924

 

1966

W.Marsh

2008

K.J.E.Colwill

1925

 

1967

J.B.Hewitt

2009

K.J.E.Colwill

1926

 

1968

C.McCune

2010

R. Smith

1927

 

1969

P.Roberts

2011

M. Hayton

1928

 

1970

J.H.Higgins

2012  

P. Williamson

1929

 

1971

J.B.Hewitt

2013 P. Williamson

1930

 

1972

L.Blackwell

2014 P. Williamson

1931

 

1973

L.Blackwell

2015 J.W. Brown

1932

 

1974

B.Dobson

2016 C.N. Skinner

1933

 

1975

S.Hird

   

1934

A.Fawcett

1976

W.Millward D.F.M.

   

1935

T.Iredale

1977

W.Millward D.F.M.

   

1936

T.Iredale

1978

K.Hiles

   

1937

T.A.Kennedy

1979

K.Hiles

   

1938

J.F.Moreland

1980

L.Blackwell

   

1939

W.F.Hornby

1981

G.Graham

   

1940

B.Wood

1982

K.Hiles

   

1941

T.S.Fletcher

1983

E.Pinder

   

1942

A.F.Jennings

1984

R.D.Moore

   

1943

R.Porritt

1985

J.B.Hewitt

   

1944

G.L.Fordy

1986

E.Pinder

   

1945

A.H.Ridley 

1987

D.Allison 

   

 

 

Members & Presidents:

 

T.A. Griffiths  – President in 1912 and 1913.

 

Tom Iredale  – President in 1935 and 1936. Tom was a wholesale and retail tobacconist.

 

Les Oliver  – Les joined the club in 1935. On his death in July 2002 at the age of 95 he was our oldest member, as well as being the longest serving member. He served in the R.E.M.E. during the Second World War as a Staff Sgt and spent some time in Alexandria. He had a wry sense of humour and very sharp wit. Les was a proud honorary life member of the club.

 

Tom Kennedy  – President in 1937. Tom was a former Trustee of the club and the the managing director of Allan Kennedy’s who manufactured diamond tread steel flooring. He had a factory in Stockton and another in Germany, the latter being lost during the Second World War. He presented the club with the ‘Snooker Handicap Cup’ in 1958

 

Jack Moreland – Jack was president in 1938. On one dark night during the war years, Jack left the club and unfortunately turned left in the car park before arriving at the exit onto Darlington Road. In so doing he fell into the beck and drowned. Captain Stan Clarke (a member of the club being in the Merchant Navy) upon hearing of this tragedy, allegedly turned his ship around, headed home to Middlesbrough and married Jack’s widow.

 

Laurie Fordy - President in 1944. Laurie was a former Trustee of the club and a master builder.

 

Stan Clarke – On retiring from the Merchant Navy as a Captain, Stan took on the role of looking after the fruit machine for the club. Change was no problem as the machine only took sixpence pieces and Stan was well known for always keeping a number of sixpence pieces in his top pocket.

 

Ken Atkinson MBE – President in 1965. Ken was a Bank Clerk and served on the committee as Secretary for some time and unfortunately died in harness. A couple of the committee arranged to go to see Ken’s widow, at the matrimonial home with the view to collecting records such as minutes, general records and correspondence. To their amazement the ‘Cupboard was bare’, Ken apparently had not kept records during his time as secretary. (This could be the reason for absence of records pre 1972)

 

Sid Dumble  - President in 1948. Sid was a much feared teacher at Stockton Secondary School, teaching a variety of subjects and finishing up as deputy headmaster.

 

Granville Hewitt  - President in 1950. Granville was a former Trustee of the club and a senior executive with ICI and a member of the main board of directors.

 

Bert Walker - President in 1952 and former Trustee of the club. During his year of presidency Bert donated and presented us with the ‘Walker Cup’. Although Bert took great interest in the Walker Cup league and West Ends performance, he never played a game of bowls. Bert was a wholesale newsagent and lived in the village of Hartburn. On the 40th anniversary of the Walker Cup (1994), a match made up from all teams in the Walker Cup League was played at the West End to celebrate the occasion, Bert’s widow Freda was in attendance and presented the cup to the winners of the league for that year.

 

Norman Clarke – President in 1956 & 1964. Norman was a chemist by profession.

 

Bill Stainsby – President in 1957. Bill was in the business of plant hire.

 

Jack Coffield  – President in 1958. Jack was a well-known bookmaker & presented the club with its first snooker table.

 

Frank Hunter - Manager of Blacketts stores in Stockton.

 

Vince Ingle - Well known printer in Thornaby. He created nicknames for all those around him.

 

Arthur Fairless – President in 1961. Arthur was chairman of Fairless Engineering. His company amongst other things, developed and patented between deck cable glands and were suppliers to the Royal Navy for many years. He played a major role in the first structural development of the club in the early 60’s.

 

Geoff Hardy – President in 1963. Geoff was a local director for Tarmac.

 

Wilf Marsh  - President in 1966. President of the English Bowling Association (EBA) in 1971. Wilf was a builder of high repute.

 

Jim Hewitt – President in 1967, 1971 & 1985 and a former Trustee of the club. Jim was a manager at ICI. Being a member of ICI’s Norton Hall club, Jim was entitled to buy wine having the Norton Hall label. He advertised this wine quite freely, as when friends or tradesmen did any work for Jim, invariably payment would be offered by way of a bottle or two of this wine.

 

Charlie McCune  – President in 1968. Charlie ran and owned ‘McCunes Haulage & Coach’ company. For many years he was a town councillor.

 

Peter Roberts – President in 1969. Peter served with the Chindits in Borneo and later returned to Nigeria, whereupon he set up a travel business. After Nigerian Independence, Peter returned to Stockton and set up a travel business in Silver street. His company was well known for its ability to plan and provide comprehensive holidays and travel anywhere in the world.

 

Leo Blackwell – President in 1972, 1973 & 1980. President of Durham County Bowling Association in 1978. Leo started bowling in 1964 and by 1969 he had won all singles competitions together with champion of champions. In 1970 he was picked for Durham County and skipped for the county for 5 years. In 1972 he met David Harrison of Ainsty Bowling Club, which resulted in the West End playing Ainsty both home and away for 30 years, until sadly Ainsty as a Club, folded in 2002 due to the loss of their green, However, the traditionof the York festival has remained as some players including David Harrison have inssited the fixture be played with their new clubs, Bertkeech, Nestles and curently Rowntree.

 

Brian Dobson  – President in 1974. Brian was a Trustee of the club. A dispensing pharmacist by profession.

 

Stan Hird - President in 1975. Stan was a former Trustee of the club and was a director of Moorhouse & Barker (Builders)

 

Billy Millward D.F.M  – President in 1976, 1977 & 1997. Billy was a butcher by trade. During the Second World War whilst in the RAF he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal.

 

Ken Hiles – President in 1978, 1979 & 1982. Ken was a draughtsman and decided to emigrate to Cyprus, but returned in 2013.

 

Gordon Graham  – President in 1981.

 

Eddie Pinder – President in 1983 & 1986. Eddie was the founder President of Cleveland County Bowling Federation (EBF), first formed in 1986, he was also president the following year. Most of Eddie’s working life was as an engineering manager with ICI.

 

Alfie & Les Lewis – Father and son, both butchers. They were and still are the only father and son to be Mayor of Stockton.