2007 marked the centenary of Aberystwyth Bowling Club. Alan Edwards, author of ‘100 Years of Aberystwyth Bowling Club 1907 – 2007’, tells us more about the club’s history:
Interest in the game was keen and on 19th September, 1907, a group of Aberystwyth bowlers met. Under the chairmanship of Captain (later Sir) George Fossett Roberts the town’s first club was officially formed.
A small area of the U.C.W. Vicarage Field by Llanbadarn Road was leased and in April 1908 bowling began against a Newtown team.
In many ways Aberystwyth B.C. mirrors the rise and decline of the town as a holiday resort. In 1912 the club moved to its present U.C.W. Plas Crug site; in 1913 it welcomed more than a thousand paying summer visitors.
Encouraged by this the club formed the Aberystwyth Bowling Green Company Ltd. (1922). All-weather tennis courts were built on the newly purchased Queen’s Road site, and a second green laid at Plas Crug.
These failed to make the hoped-for profit, however. In 1939 The Company sold the tennis courts to the Town council and transferred the U.C.W. lease back to the Bowling Club before winding up.
During this early period the club played an important role in forming the Mid Wales Bowling Association (1912) and, later, in the creation of the Cardiganshire county Bowling Association (1935).
When the latter became a separate member of the W.B.A. (1947) Aberystwyth provided the Handel Morris County Champions Cup and the first president.
After the Second World War Open Tournaments were revived and expanded. Club members organised ambitious summer concerts at the King’s Hall to coincide with the Open; participants were hosted to a dinner supported by the Town Council.
These were heady days, before cut-price overseas holidays reduced the visitors, and increased prize money elsewhere tempted the bowlers away.
Enlightened bowlers saw the fours league as a force for good in the town; subsequent successes for Aberystwyth in Welsh Bowls competitions support this view.
A dispute between Glamorgan and the other bowling counties led, in 1965, to the breakaway Bowling Association of Wales being formed. Aberystwyth hosted the first B.A.W. finals.
The schism was short-lived, however. Aberystwyth’s second W.B.A. President, Bill Bowen 1972 (W.G. Pryse, 1957, was the first) used his considerable legal skills to help heal the scars.
In the early 1990’s the club’s ladies were excluded from playing with the ‘B’ team which had joined the league in 1963. By 2000 they felt strong enough to enter the Cardiganshire County Ladies’ League (C.B.M.C.). They emerged champions in 2005.
Presently the club runs one ladies’ and two men’s teams. Club members have so far gained eight victories in Welsh Finals, have won the Welsh Club competition (the Carruthers) twice and have provided one junior and seven full international players for Wales.
The most notable is Paul Wright (with 30 caps). He also won the coveted title of British Isles singles champion (1970).
With several promising youngsters coming through, the short-term future seems assured.