Bowling
Colgrain Bowling Club

People have been tossing balls around the grass since the 15th century but it took a Scottish company, Thomas Taylor, to produce standardised kit using a machine lathe.

And it was Scottish players who reorganised the game, using curling as a model, and created what is known as flat green bowling today.

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Colgrain Bowling Club,
Monaebrook Place,
Helensburgh,
Argyll & Bute,
G84 7JD.

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Tuesday, 13 March 2018 08:22

Our History

THE ORIGIN
                        
CBC history snippet1During the Mid-1940s, just after the war, certain members of Hermitage Bowling Club were dissatisfied with the conditions laid down by the then 'Helensburgh Town Council' regarding the limited playing time and the lack of a clubhouse where they could meet in the closed season.  A number of informal meetings were held to discuss if anything could be done to alter things and find a way forward. From those meetings, it was agreed to try to establish a new club, with better facilities, somewhere in the town.

To help finance its creation, it was agreed to run a weekly football sweep under the name of Hermitage Building Fund which became locally known as the 'Railway Sweep' due to the rail workers who organised it. Mr R Black was nominated to negotiate in all matters, on behalf of the Building Fund, concerning the purchase of ground suitable for a bowling green and clubhouse.

CBC history1By 1947, the Building Fund had reached a total of £1009 and the first attempt was made to purchase a piece of ground at the corner of West Princes Street and Suffolk Street but the offer was too low. This piece of ground is now Helensburgh Tennis Club.  An attempt was then made to Craighelen Tennis Club for an area of their ground, but to no avail, as this ground was required for their own expansion plans.

Eventually a piece of ground at Monaebrook (now Colgrain) became a possibility and at a special meeting, held in the Grant Restaurant, on Friday 6th August 1948, it was agreed by 20 votes to 3, that Mr Black proceed with negotiations to purchase the ground.

A local firm of solicitors, Ormond and Stanton of the Royal Bank Buildings in Princes Street, were met to seek guidance and advice on costs and title deeds. Finally the ground was purchased for the sum of £100. Planning permission was granted on 17th October 1949 and was confirmed by the 'Central Land Board' in Edinburgh on 18th January 1950. To enable matters to progress further, the members of Hermitage Bowling Club gave their consent "that the funds credited to the account of Hermitage Bowling Club, be used to defray all expenses that may be incurred in the construction of a bowling green and clubhouse inclusive of legal fees".  The way was now clear to go ahead with the construction.

The well-known firm, Maxwell Hart of Glasgow was awarded the contract and work commenced in March 1950.  Unfortunately, there is no record of the cost but from entries in old bank books, it would appear to be in the region of £1000-£1500.  From the construction costs of the green, it was evident that there was insufficient funds available to build a permanent clubhouse, so it was decided to buy a large hut which had been used at the prisoner of war camp at Shandon.

The hut was dismantled and transported by the members and erected on the site of the present clubhouse where it was painted and basic kitchen and toilet facilities installed. As work on the green was progressing, the members set out to work in tidying up the site, removing rubbish, laying paths and setting out a car park.  This entailed months of very hard work which was carried out willingly and at no further cost to the club. Towards the end of 1950, the majority of the work was  complete and April 1951 was set for the official opening.

  • President: J Coyle
  • Vice-President: W Emmerson
  • Secretary: J Young
  • Treasurer: D Feeney
  • Directors:
    D McLeish
    F Aitken
    W Sorley
    J Salvatore
    J Donaldson
    J McConnell
    Mundie
    E McGuire



 In order to officially form the new club, a Special General Meeting was held in the Temperance Hall in West Princes St. on the 18th January 1951, at which 31 bowlers from the 'Council Green' in Hermitage Park were present.

CBC history snippet2The chairman of the meeting, Mr D McLeish, called for the disbanding of Hermitage Bowling Club and the formation of Colgrain Bowling Club. This was unanimously agreed and Colgrain Bowling Club became a fully constituted club within the district.
 
     The first duty of the Committee was to determine the Annual Subscription.  This was set at £2.10/- (£2.50) with an entry fee of 1/- (5p) for each club competition.

THE EARLY DAYS
 
CBC history snippet4During the first three months of 1951, all remedial work progressed as planned.  Now everything was ready for the grand opening day in April.
 
In the company of members and representatives from all clubs in the Gareloch, Provost J McLeod Williamson declared the green 'Open' and requested his good lady to deliver the first jack.  No doubt the members of Colgrain Bowling Club were extremely happy and satisfied.  Their aspirations had become a reality.

 The first trophy to be presented to the club was the McLeod Williamson trophy, presented by the Provost.   Now that the season was underway, it was decided to have four singles and one pairs competition.  The prizes as follows:
Competition     Winner     Runner-up
    Championship:     £2     £1
    President's Trophy:     £1.10/-     £1
    McLeod Williamson Trophy:     £1.10/-     £1
    Ingram Trophy
      £1.10/-
      £1

THE LADIES
 
     In 1951, the question of ladies joining the club was first raised.  It was agreed on condition that at lease eight ladies wished to join. This criteria was not met but at the AGM in November 1952, it was agreed that wives of members would be allowed to play as 'visitors'.  By 1955 there was an increase in the number of ladies wishing to play and it was agreed they could play within restricted times.  During the period 1955 to 1959, the ladies section was still not formally recognised.  Although a certain number of ladies competitions took place, there were no trophies or records of winners.
 
     However in 1960 it was agreed to officially recognise the Ladies' Section complete with a Ladies Championship and other competitions, with the Gent's Section agreeing to start it off with a donation of £5.  A Ladies Championship Trophy was purchased by the club in February 1961, hence the reason for the Ladies Champions board commencing in 1961.
      
THE CLUBHOUSE
 
     By 1956, the club was looking to the future and to that end, a Building Fund was started with the proceeds from the football sweep.  The objective being a permanent clubhouse.  The first move was made in 1958, to the firm of R D Robertson from Dumbarton, seeking advice, etc.  However it was agreed to leave matters for a future date.  In May 1959, plans were drawn up and submitted to Dumbarton District Council which were approved in August 1959.  Various local firms were approached for estimates and the following were accepted:
      
                    
    Builder:         Williamson
    Joiner:         A Gow
    Painter:         F Tiernan
    Electrician:         Small & McDonald
    Plumber:         A W Mickel
              
     Total Cost:         £2748

CBC history snippet6The new clubhouse, including all facilities and a bar serving area, was ready for opening day 1960.  The old clubhouse (Nissen hut) was dismantled by Williamson, who paid the club £20.  After the activities of the Fifties, the Sixties was a decade of consolidation and growth.
 
     At the AGM on the 18th February 1970, the question was raised of the club applying for a liquor licence.  The topic was controversial but it was carried by the majority of 19 votes to 16 and the committee was given instruction to proceed.  For the record, this issue was raised every alternate year since 1951, but on each occasion was rejected.  The bar was eventually opened in May 1971.  Drawings for the first full year totalled £9648, reaching a peak of £152,000 in 1995.
 
 
THE EXPANSION
 
By early 1972, it had become obvious that the facilities were inadequate for the needs of the members.  The club had 120 gents and 60 lady members, plus a waiting list of approximately 50 and 20 respectively.  In October 1972, an Extraordinary General Meeting was called.  The proposals being to construct a second bowling green, build a new changing room and to improve the toilet facilities.
 

CBC history2The cost of laying a new green would be £5700 and the cost of the changing room and toilet facilities would be £9000.  It was explained to the members that the majority of the costs could possibly be met by grants from the Scottish Sports Council and Dumbarton County Council.  The membership agreed, provided that grants were available and the club would not go into debt above £4000.  Grants of £7000 from the Sports Council and £2300 from the County Council were negotiated and these, coupled with the funds held by the club made the proposals attainable.
 
     Work was started in the autumn of 1972 and completed by opening day 1974, without the club going into debt.  The first game played on the new green was on the 20th July 1974 against kindred club members.  Although the green was rather bumpy, a great day was had by all and another milestone had been reached. (The 'New' green can be seen in the foreground of the image at the bottom of this page, with the 'Old' green in the background.)
 
     Although less than two years had elapsed since the facilities had been updated, the question of the construction of a viewing lounge, to run alongside the 'Old Green', was discussed at an EGM on the 17th of September 1975.  It was put to the meeting that the cost would be in the region of £8500.  This figure being based on voluntary labour carried out by the members.

 It was stated that the club had finances of £4500 available and the balance could be raised by way of a loan from Tennent's Breweries.  The membership ratified the proposal and the work was started immediately.  All work was carried out by the members over the closed season and the new viewing lounge was ready for opening day 1976.  (The Tennent's loan was repaid by May 1878.)
 
 
FURTHER EXPANSION
 
CBC history snippet5The next stage of development was the improvement to the kitchen and storage facilities.  At an EGM on the 3rd of December 1980, it was agreed to build an extension to the gable end of the clubhouse.  This would enlarge the kitchen and storage areas and at the same time increase the length of the main hall.
 
Quotations of £9000 for the building work and £3500 to fit out the kitchen were accepted.  To reduce the necessity for an overdraft, a number of members gave interest-free loans to the club.  These were repaid after one year.  In 1985 an automatic sprinkler system was installed over both greens and in 1987 a new pitched roof was erected over the viewing lounge and the following year, a new floor was laid in the main hall.
     

Over many years, flooding on the 'Old' green had been a serious problem and in 1988 was causing grave concern.  A previous investigation revealed eight inches of compressed silt below the turf level.  In September 1988, three independent turf consultants were met to seek opinions and advice.  Their opinions of the cause were alike but their remedial advice differed.  The most drastic of these was to remove the turf and excavate to below the silt level.
 
At an EGM on the 16th of November 1988 after much debate, the membership decided to take this action and consent was given to proceed.  The task would be to lift and set aside the turf, excavate the compressed silt and lay the area with 200 metres of field drains.  The excavated material to be replaced with 240 tonnes of treated sand and 60 tonnes of screened topsoil, levelled and the turf relaid. The company was Soutars of Stirling and the cost was £20,800.
 
CBC history3At the AGM on the 15th February 1989, it was agreed to a levy of £10 and £5 for male and female members respectively.  This raised the sum of £2500 and this coupled with a grant of £6000 from Tennent Caledonian Brewery, partly offset the cost of re-lifting the green.
 
By now the viewing lounge (which was built in 1975) was beginning to look shabby and at a Special Meeting on the 31st of January 1990, it was agreed to refurbish the area at a cost of £25,000.  In order to assist with finance, members donated loans totalling £9,500 and the Ladies' Section provided £1,800.  The work was completed in March, ready for the April opening.
 
Floodlights were installed during the winter of 1991/1992 (first suggested in 1965 but the price of £322 was thought too costly).  The pylons were donated and again the members got together to do the work themselves.  This task was completed in March 1992.
 
One of the last major tasks was the conversion of the bankings around both greens.  The grass was removed and replaced with a synthetic material and again the excavation and building work was carried out by the members.

# # # # # Well done to all the volunteers over the years! # # # # #
 
You have all played your part in helping Colgrain Bowling Club to prosper.

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