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Opening Day 1946 Opening Day 1946

Birstall Bowling Club germinated from an idea by ‘Freddy’ Astill in late 1944. Not long after, the first meeting of the founding members took place at the council school on Wanlip Lane on Thursday November 30th 1944, when a small committee was formed.

Mr William C. Wesley, of The Limes, Park Road, Birstall allowed the tennis court at the rear of his house to be used for the playing of bowls, for 10 shillings pa. The agreement was signed by the Officers of the Club and dated Christmas Day 25th December 1944.

The 10 club members each made an interest free loan of £5 each on the December 31st 1944, to finance the Club and then annual subscription were set at 30 shillings and a joining fee of 10 shillings if paid before June 1st or £1 if after that date.


  • Regrettably Bill Wesley died on January 11th 1945 so was never able to see the Bowls Club in action on his tennis court.
  • He was listed as our first President on our Honours Board in the Clubhouse.
  • The green at that time consisted of just 2 rinks and it was deemed unsatisfactory.
  • A special general meeting held in October 1945, to decide the future of the green and its extension, was told that discussions were ongoing between the club and Bill Wesley’s daughter ‘Miss A.B.Wesley’. By June 24 1946 the Land forming the site of the Clubs Bowling Green’ had been gifted under a conveyance to the Club gift dated June 24th 1946.


  • Work early in the year to prepare the site and have it ready for the coming season, so the legal work was obviously as formality.
  • The cost of the work carried out by Leicester Construction amounted to £322-11s-2d

1947 – 1950

  • Few records remain of these years


  • Membership was 42
  • Founder member Bill Bembridge was President in 1951 and was to be followed the following year by his close friend ‘Freddy’ Astill.
  • Birstall Playing Fields Association formed with Land donated to the residents of Birstall to use for Sports and Recreation purposes and 2 representatives were elected from the Bowling Club to participate in this.


  • The Club was experiencing serious difficulties with the green at Park Road, and the green was re-laid twice in a number of places in an effort to improve it.
  • 2 matches had to be postponed in 1952 on account of the Green being so unsatisfactory.

1952 & 1953

  • Finances were not great and throughout - various proposals were discussed to deal with the deficit, and eventually rather than increase the subscriptions which the Committee felt may lead to the loss of some members, a ‘levy’ was made that each player should pay 1/- per match. By the end of the 1953 season all outstanding loans had been repaid but Club funds were rather precarious with a balance of just £11


  • On the 15th November 1954 further news of a Bowling Green to be laid on the new park at a cost of £400 was discussed, but as it was some time off it was agreed that as had been voted at the 1953  AGM that we should eventually transfer as a Club to the Birstall Playing Fields.


  • the Club pledged to raise £250 towards the cost of the new green on the Birstall Playing field’s site and negotiations were under way regarding the sale of the site of the old green. 
  • The advent of a new green was welcomed by the ladies of Birstall, Mrs Hilda Coates had twenty nine applications from Birstall ladies wishing to play Bowls and it was hoped that play would begin on the new green in May 1957.
  • Mr. Francis Burton, President of the English Bowling Association formally opened the new green (a former member of Sileby BC). 
  • Mr. K. Benson who had pioneered and contributed extensively to the erection of the Pavilion was officially invited to open that building. 


  • The Ladies Section was formed. 
  • Appeals for more ladies to help with teas etc were made, shades of the present times. 
  • It was suggested that men not selected to play in the matches should be asked to assist with the catering.  This met with little response. 
  • Club blazers (tailor made) were introduced in 1954 and by 1957 White flannels were worn in matches. Club Ties were also introduced in 1962


  • Non playing membership was introduced.
  • On six occasions during the season 2 matches were to be played on some Saturdays.
  • A joint Committee from the Gents and Ladies Clubs agreed a reduced fee for Senior Citizens paying £2.00 as against the full membership fee of £3.00.


  • The Parish Council decided to allow Birstall Ladies Hockey team to use the pavilion for their matches, the Council were adamant on this decision, refusing to change it and despite requests, no amendments to the Licence was permitted. 
  • Requests were made at this time for the Council to provide a second green.


  • The Cricket and Bowls Clubs voted in favour of Sunday play, the Council were requested to change the Bye Law concerning organised games on Sundays, permission was granted, but few games were played.


  • First Presidential Badge of Office on behalf of the Club issued – Offered by Tom Gittings.
  • 153 people attended the Club Dinner


  • Council installed electricity in the Pavilion and plans were now in hand for the provision of a second green. 

1965 Season

  • Double Saturday fixtures were now the order of the day and eight Thursday matches were arranged. 
  • Plans for the second green provided by the council were well underway.  The Bowls Club pledged a loan of £ 1250 towards the cost of this additional facility.


  • Introduction of the Tuesday “Spoons” night, and the President, Mr Wilson offered to donate a trophy for the person winning the most spoons in the season. 
  • Mr. Albert Merrick, who was a member of the British United Club, and latterly a member of Birstall, was elected as President of the Leicestershire Bowling Association. 
  • The Parish Council ruled that persons living outside the parish were not eligible to join.


  • The No. 2 Green was now ready for play.
  • Steady progress was made with plans to extend the existing Pavilion


  • Fixture against the L.B.A. Executive to mark our twenty five years. The visitors were dined at the Goscote Hotel. 


  • Club’s First Bowls tour to Babbacombe in Devon - Mr George Goodwin President.
  • Electric supplies and water services installed


  • Proposed extensions to the Pavilion.  Over £1,800 had been pledged in loans, and a 28 year lease was granted by the playing Fields Association. Builder - Mr. H. Goddard 


  • Saw the Club' great benefactor, Ken Benson in Office.  Lew Fielding gave the Club much valued assistance in his role as Chairman of the Parish Council. A second Club tour to Devon was arranged.


  • Controversy over mixed play was now causing some concern and the club was attracting publicity of the wrong kind with articles in the local and national press.
  •  Television coverage due to the complaints by Mr & Mrs Cohen based on mixed play and charges for bowls, the committee were not happy with the situation and threatened to withdraw his membership.
  • Break ins and vandalism to the Pavilion were common occurrences even in 1974, approaches to the Council were made, hoping for some assistance with the protection of the property.
  • A sequel to the Cohen affair led to Womens Lib staging a protest meeting in Birstall inviting, the women of Birstall to make a protest against the segregation of the sexes on our bowling green’s.
  • A meeting between representatives of the Ladies and the Men’s Club was convened and the rules amended to read that the Ladies Club be known as Birstall Ladies Bowling Club and to be responsible for its own finances and constitution.
  • The Men’s Club to be recognized as the parent body and they shall be responsible for conducting all negotiations with the Parish Council on questions relating to the greens.


  • Annual Meeting accepted the resignation of the Secretary, Harry Powdrill who had served in office for 22 years.  He received a gift of £50 was made to him and made a life member. 
  • More cordial relations existed between the Ladies and men’s clubs.
  •  Connie Smith was elected as President of the Leicestershire Ladies County Bowling Association.


  • A licensed bar was installed in the Club – Special thanks to Jack & Marjorie Hawksley assisted by several members
  • David Smith was awarded his County badge.
  • The Triples Competition was finally disbanded and the splendid Bromley Trophy was re allocated to be played as a Two Wood singles competition. 
  • Junior Membership for the under 18's was introduced; Alastair Kerr and Ian Lockington became the first members of this section.
  • The Jack Cohen saga still dragged on, eventually his case was heard by the Equal Opportunities Commission who found no grounds for the allegations against the Parish Council or the Bowls Club. 
  • Social membership was introduced for non bowling members, the fee was £2.00


  • 28 year Lease and Licence signed after successful talks between Committee members (John Middleton President, Lew Fielding and Dick Turnbull and Bill Brooks, Secretary) with the Parish Council.
  • Applications were made to join the City Parks Association, Loughborough Alliance and the Leicester Private Clubs League, who were looking to create a 2nd Division. 
  • Birstall committee then opted to join the Leicester City Parks Bowling Association.
  • Drought conditions brought about a ban on watering & the green deteriorated badly. This resulted in only County Competition matches and Club fixtures be played on the No 1 Green, all other games to be played on the second green
  •  Mrs Baxter, the daughter of Eric and Irene Bennett presented a trophy to the Club for Mixed competition. 
  • Mr Middleton, Club President was elected to serve on the General Purposes Committee of the L.B.A.
  • Mr E.F. Wilson was made a life member in recognition of the many years service as Treasurer. 
  • The Club won the first of many City Parks competitions; Eric Adnett and Dick Turnbull were successful in the Pairs.  Reg Dennis was runner up in the Secretaries Cup and the Club also won the Wilson Shield.


  • Costs were still rising and the Subs had now increased to £9.50.
  •  The St. Johns Trophy was played between Birstall & Rushey Mead – formally this had previously been competed for by Rushey Mead and Belgrave.( Wednesday evening in July) 
  • The Club did particularly well in competitions winning the Bramley Bowl for the first time and reaching the Semi Final of the County Club Championship.
  • Tours by now had become an annual event and George Goodwin had donated a trophy to be awarded to the tourist with the best shots plus aggregate


  • Mixed casual play was now permitted on the No2 Green, but only for a trial period of one year. 
  • Steady progress was reported and the state of the greens was much improved, thanks to Frank Thompson’s efforts. 
  • The Treasurer reported that fees were not in keeping up with the rising costs. 
  • Leicestershire County Club Championship success


  • Lew Fielding was elected as Junior Vice President of the Leicester City Parks Bowling Association. 
  • The 100 Club 11 was in inaugurated with Fred Collier as Secretary. 
  •  Jack Pharo took over the organisation of the Bowls tours.
  • Mr, Fielding introduced a plan to improve the amenities of the Club, a Sub Committee was formed and discussions were had with representatives from the Ladies Club with regards to this matter. 
  • Stan Gunby was nominated for the Junior Vice-Presidency of the Leicestershire Bowling Association.


  • The new Scoreboard  was opened by  Jack Smith the County President,
  • Mrs M. Middleton presented a new flag to the Club.
  • In view of Stan Gunby's , County Presidential year in 1983
    • Some work to improve the Green was carried out
    • Quotations obtained for the building of an extension to the Pavilion.


  • The extension to the 'Pavilion was approved and carried out. 
  • Mrs Brooks presented a seat to the Club in memory of ‘Bill’. 
  • Lew Fielding was inducted as President of the City Parks. 
  • The Pavilion extension had depleted the Club funds considerably.  Mr. Collier made a very generous donation to the Club; this along with other fund raising efforts restored the Clubs finances. 
  • The greens were spiked under the Supervision of Mr Bowler from Charnwood Council, the Club paying for dressings and other green improvements.
  • The Parks Finals were held at Birstall and the Club almost swept the board.
  •  The Club also won the Bramley Bowl for the third time. 
  • The Major success of the season being the winning of the Atkins Shield, County Club Championship.


  • Bramley Bowl was won for the fourth time. 
  • Reg Forrester was awarded his County badge.
  • John Middleton was elected as Chairman of the Leicestershire Vice Presidents Association. 
  • The Club hosted  some of this Associations representative matches were played on our Green, as was two County Executive games
  •  Unfortunately due to Stan Gunby’s poor health he was unable to fulfil his duties as County President, Jack Smith, of Holwell deputised for him.


  • After long negotiations the 28 year lease and licence on the Club premises was finalised and witnessed by the new President, John Valentine. This having taken almost ten years to complete. 
  • The Bramley Bowl was retained for the third successive year.


  • Plans were made to erect an additional building as a visitors changing room.  A Sub Committee was formed and given the authorisation to spend £700 on this project, we now have this building but the figure stated was exceeded by quite a large amount. 
  • John Middleton was elected to serve on the L.B.A. General Purposes Committee. 
  • The Club joined the ill fated Leicestershire Bowls Merit Table.
  • The Club was in dispute with the Parish Council with regards to the large increase in the rents , an increase of £500 having been suggested.  After arbitration that figure was reduced by fifty per cent. 
  • Jan Hunt & Andy Wye joined the Club as a Junior Member,


  • Amy Brewin donated a shield to be played for annually between teams represented the Ladies and Gents Clubs. 


  • The Club won the Bramley Bowl for the sixth time. 
  • Walter Kidger won the Parks Singles, beating Jan Hunt in the Final. 
  • Walter also won the Eastbourne Pairs Competition, partnered by Tom Wardle.


  • The Club won the Wilson Shield for the third time. 
  •  Tom Cowles and Geoff Brown, two of our newer members reconstructed the new Bar.


  • The Club again won the Bramley Bowl, and were runner’s up in the Leicestershire County Club Championship, being beaten by Brush in the finals. 
  • Saunders Footwear offered to donate a Cup for competition which was accepted - Initially proposed that this be played for between Birstall and Rothley, or another local Club.  After discussion it was decided to play this as a mixed Gala. 
  • The windows in the Pavilion were lowered to afford members with a better view of our Green.  Now all our members can enjoy a social drink and play all the best shots in the comfort of our Clubhouse


  • Walter Kidger was nominated to be Junior Vice President of the City Parks.
  • The Club joined the newly formed Two Wood Triples League, finishing runners up in this first season. 
  • The Council laid the newly purchased concrete ditch sections prior to the start of the season, slabs were laid around the green by 15 volunteer members at a cost of £ 1,500.  This work transformed the surrounds.


  • Lew Fielding take on a second term of office, Ken Hill taken over as Treasurer, Eric Burrows and Dennis Shooter were Runners up in the Parks Senior Citizens competition


  • Walter Kidger was installed as President of the Parks
  •  The Club won the Bramley Bowl once again. 
  • Walter Kidger along with colleagues Eric Burrows, Denis Shooter and Dennis Measom won the Parks fours, the latter partnering Walter won the Senior Citizens Cup beating Eric Burrows and Denis Shooter in the final.  Dennis, Eric and Tom Cowles won the Triples. a wonderful year for Walter as Parks President and our own club President, Norman Cartwright


  • Refurbishment of the Clubhouse was commenced; this work under the supervision of Tom Cowles will be completed by the start of our Golden Jubilee year.


  • Runners up in the Two Wood Triples League.  J


  • Our fiftieth year.  Jan Hunt was the President
  •  Several important games have been arranged ,
  • the highlight being the visit of the English Bowling Association team on Monday 7th August 1995. 
  • The 1995 season will be a time when our members can look forward to playing in these special games and to give your Committee your full support in appreciation of the work which has been done over the years, it is also a time when we should pause and reflect on the status of the Club after fifty years.  Our special thoughts for the forward thinking of those founder members who have laid the basis for our Great Club, particularly those who are no longer with us.  The efforts and services rendered of Harry Powdrill, John Middleton, Cliff Macleod, Bill Bembridge, Eric Adnett, Frank Wilson, Ken Benson and Lew Fielding to name a few, also to all the various Officers and Committees who have worked so hard to provide the facilities which we all enjoy today.


  • Covid -19 hits and the start to the season has to be cancelled - tragically we lost a few members through/related to this - John & Sheila Jenkins, John & Kath Lee and Graham Fawcett - they will all be greatly missed
  • With the help of guidance from Bowls England & Bowls Leicestershire we were permitted to start casual playing on the green with the protection and reduced numbers.


  • Covid still caused a delay in fixtures starting but all club competitions were completed and an enjoyable presentation evening was held at the Golf Club.
  • Both the Men's & Ladies Clubs voted to combine & become one - Birstall Bowling Club.  There will be a mixed management committee with additional officers. For the time being at least the club will continue to put out Men's & Ladies teams, as well as a mixed team on Sundays. 
  • The first AGM of the new club was held at the Birstall Parish Council offices and a new mixed committee was elected