Victoria Bowling Club 1900 – Present Day
In February 1900 a meeting was called by 2 local gentlemen to discuss the formation of a bowling green in Weston super Mare. This was duly agreed and the lawned area of the then Summer and Winter Gardens was leased from the private company that owned and operated the Gardens.
On Wednesday 18th April 1900 the green was officially opened by the MP for Wells. To mark the founding of Victoria Bowling Club six gentleman played on the green and played differently to present days,
The first match to ever be played was against Cardiff at Sophia Gardens and consisted of 6 rinks of pairs. (Included in the team was F. Blackmore who went on to represent England at a later date).
In the first year Victoria Bowling Club also created a bit of history for another club. Bristol Arrow from Bristol had been formed as a bowling club and in 1894 played their first away game at Victoria. Great excitement abounded when the electric tram was boarded for the short trip to Temple Meads station and then a rail trip to the seaside. The result was a resounding win for the Vic by 72-31.
The club continued to prosper and in 1908 went on tour to London on won 5 out of 6 matches played. The great Dr W. G. Grace appeared amongst the opposition skips. Another highlight of 1908 was the match against Canada when a civic reception was held at the Town Hall and a grand luncheon was served.
The club continued from strength to strength and in 1915 Walter Wake became the first member to attain the office of President of the English Bowling Association. A further 3 were to follow: E. M. Trevor in 1935, T. W.R. Proctor OBE in 1957 and R. T. Moore in 1978.
A further 6 members achieved the office of President of the Somerset County Bowls Association during the period 1919-2001.
The new pavilion was added in 1930 and was furnished entirely by gifts from members and friends of “chairs, tables, copper flower bowls, dinner gong, linoleum and other articles” This theme was followed in 1970 when the indoor bowling green was built with contributions from members.(At the time the members were mainly local businessmen) .
Until the mid 1980’s ladies were not allowed to play on the green but under pressure from them the hierarchy relented and play was permitted on a restricted time.
Since the Centenary in 2000 a separate Ladies Section has been formed and has since gone from strength to strength. Initially only a small number of experienced ladies joined but this has grown in numbers and results are being reflected in the experience gained. Happily ‘ mixed ‘ matches are now common.
In 2003 Victoria Bowling Club won the Turnbull Cup – the Somerset County Cup. It has reached the semi-final stage twice more since then.
A number of Club members continue to appear in the finals of County competitions and are chosen to represent the County in the inter-county Middleton Cup.
As you may gather it used to be that to become a member it was usually necessary to be a businessman but this has long since changed and people of all ages are now welcome to apply for membership. Join a lively and social Club and be part of the future history…