Club History

History of Brought Bowling Club

In the year 2000 Broughty Bowling Club celebrated its 125th year. 

The Ladies Section was formed in 1924. 

They have been 125 eventful years. Overall, however they have been years of steady progress, fostering the spirit of good fellowship which is the hallmark of any successful club. 

The result is that today we have a club of which we may be proud. Our beautiful green, with its fine setting and well-appointed clubhouse, is a delight to members and visitors alike. Indeed, it is difficult to think of a bonnier picture on a summer afternoon than the Broughty green, flooded with sunshine and eight rinks battling for victory in friendly rivalry. 

How did it all begin? 

Alas, there are gaps in the Club’s records, particularly in regard to Minute Books, which would give a complete picture of early days. 

But from the Treasurer’s Cash Book which does exist, we do know that in 1874 two meetings were held in the Templar Hall, Broughty Ferry, and it was agreed to rent from Robert Guild, Esq., the ground that we now occupy at Albert Road. The rent was £25 per year. 

It was also agreed to lay out the ground as a Bowling Green and to open a list of subscribers to meet the cost. One hundred and five gentlemen subscribed a total of £333 in amounts varying from £1 to £30 each. 

A Committee was appointed and went to Montrose where they examined turf and bought a quantity sufficient to lay the green. The Turf came from Bridge of Dun and was purchased from Charles Lyall, Esq., at a cost of £10:10/-. Cartage to Broughty Ferry, laying the turf and sundry expenses brought the total cost of the green to £325. This left a surplus of £7:13:7d, which would surely have pleased Mr. Micawber. 

The name of the new club appears to have caused a little concern to those starting it. There was an earlier club known as “Broughty Ferry Bowling Club” which existed from 1851 to 1867 and was probably a forerunner of our own club. It appears that those forming our club wanted a title to distinguish it from the other club and dropping the word “Ferry”, took the name Broughty Bowling Club, which, of course, we still retain. 

The greenkeeper at that time was paid a wage of £1 per week during the playing season. This was raised to £1:4/- in 1876. The Club subscription was £1 per annum. It is doubtful if any of the original turf could now be identified as on several occasions partial returfing has been carried out with turf from other parts of Scotland. 

Information from this stage is sparse until we come to 10th May 1892, when a special meeting was called to form a Limited Liability Company. The object was “purchasing and acquiring the ground, lands, heritage and others at Taymount in Broughty Ferry belonging to William Lowson JR and presently leased to the Trustees of Broughty Bowling Club and occupied by the said Club”. 

The Company was to be called the Taymount Bowling Green Company Limited with a capital of £550 in shares of £1 each. Only 319 of the shares were taken up and the Company had to ask the North of Scotland Bank for an advance against a Promissory Note to meet their needs. 

Dividends of 3% for the first year or two, arising to 5% thereafter, had been promised to the shareholders. The promises were kept with difficulty to the limit of 3% but any further increase never materialised. At the end of the first year the profit and loss account showed a profit of £5:3:2d. Before long the rent to the Bowling Club was raised to £30 because the Taymount shareholders felt the return to the Company was too small and “they were not a charitable institution”. An interesting point because many of the Bowling Club members were also shareholders in the Taymount Company. 

Arguments about the rent continued over the years till August 1909, when the Bowling Club refused to pay any increase and the Taymount Company gave them notice to quit. Happily the matter was settled and a rent of £36 per annum agreed. 

In May 1912 came the first move by the Bowling Club to take over from the Taymount Company. Shares were gradually taken over by the Bowling Club and at a meeting on 3rd February 1922 the Taymount Bowling Green Company Ltd. accepted an offer from the Broughty Bowling Club of £550 for the green. The Taymount Company was then wound up. 

Thus ended a chapter in the history of our Club which may well leave us rather envious when we compare the costs of bowling at that time compared with those of today. Rent of the green was £36, the greenkeeper’s wage 24/-. Subscription £1:1/- and the total cost of laying out the green was less than the cost of raising the ends and levelling rink four in about 1955. 

Records are missing which would show when the original bowl-house was built but we do have a picture of it and the Treasurer’s Cash book shows a payment to a local joiner in 1877 which might have been the cost of this item. The original bowl-house is now the greenkeeper’s tool shed, though it had side wings and later a veranda. The present bowl-house (prior to the most recent alterations) was first considered in 1919 when the President characterised it as “a disgrace to a club such as Broughty Bowling Club”, referring of course to the original building. Plans were submitted by three architects and the plan accepted contained the ground plan of one plan and the elevation of another and limited the cost to £1,000. A little confusing for the architects and all concerned. Further estimates placed the cost at £1,200 and this was agreed. Soon after, the architect or architects were dropped and another appointed. New plans were approved but relations between the architect and the Committee were not happy. Feelings ran high about the slow progress and the poor quality of the work. At one stage it appears that no one had remembered that a floor would be required in the bowl-house and new building which by this time had risen to a cost of £1,651:5:6d. This placed the Club in considerable debt and perhaps because of the policy of the time and for many years after, which was that “we leave something to be done by posterity”, it was many years before the liability was cleared. 

One sad factor about missing records is that we cannot tell the names of the earliest clubs with whom we then played. The record shows that in 1893 we played Broughty Castle, Maryfield, Westend Perth, Perth, Kinnoull, Dudhope, Forfar, Balgay, Victoria (Broughty), Carnoustie, Newport, Baxter Park, Arbroath and Montrose. Happily we still play against all of these clubs except Montrose and Victoria with the latter no longer in existence. 

It is almost certain that our club was represented at the famous meeting on 12th September 1892 when 122 clubs formed the Scottish Bowling Association. In 1893 a Broughty rink beat all clubs in the preliminary stage being beaten by Kilwinning at Glasgow “No more due to hard lines which forms a large element in Bowling”. Kilwinning went on to win the competition. Two other events related to the SBA cannot be forgotten. In 1953 the SBA chose Broughty for the International Trial Match which attracted about 500 visitors. In 1956 the club was again honoured in being chosen to house the Commonwealth Games Elimination Tournament. In 1893 we joined the newly formed Forfar, Perth and Fife Association and in 1927 when the City of Dundee Bowling Association was formed we became members. 

While we played against Whitehall, Aberdeen in an occasional match, it was not until 1925 that this became a regular fixture and the Queens Park, Glasgow fixture, first played in 1953, has remained a regular and popular feature on our fixture list ever since. Games with Rotary started in 1926 and local charities have benefited from them. 

No story of our club could be complete without reference to “The Barclay”. The Barclay Cup Competition was instituted in 1885, the trophy having been gifted by Mr. Barclay, the MP for Forfarshire. The forerunner of this competition was the Forfarshire and District Rinks Tournament started in 1879. It is therefore the oldest bowling competition in this district. It continued to be known as the Forfarshire Rinks Competition until the formation of the Forfarshire Bowling Association in1909, when the new association started to run their own rinks tournament. The popularity of the Barclay Cup was in no way affected. In the early days, entries were received from clubs in Kincardine, Perthshire and Fifeshire in addition to those from Dundee and Forfarshire. In 1948 it was agreed that the number of entries would be limited to twenty-six clubs and no new entries would be accepted unless there was a withdrawal. It was agreed that only private clubs would be admitted but presently three public greens retain their membership, Lochlands, Abbey and Orchar Park. 

Prizes at the beginning of the century were high for a small competition – £20 for the winning rink, £10 for the second, £6 for the third and £4 for the fourth. That was a lot of money in those days. Over the years there have only been Eight Secretaries for the Barclay and it is of interest to note that the penultimate holder of the office had held the office for thirty years at the time of our centenary year. We are sure that the wish is that this old and popular competition would long continue and it was with a degree of joy that Broughty Bowling Club won in the final in the year 2002. 

In the early days the Committee met occasionally in the bowl-house but more frequently in Jolly’s Hotel, the Whist and Chess Club and the British Workman’s Cafe. Annual dinners were not the thing in those days but “a supper followed by a Smoker” was held and it would appear that a good time was enjoyed by all. Later the function became an annual dinner. Over the years it was held in Royal British Hotel, Dundee, occasionally the Masonic Hall, Broughty Ferry. In more recent times it has been held in Wallace’s Dundee Pie Shop, Castle Hotel and Woodlands Hotel, Broughty Ferry and following alterations within our own Bowl house. 

Our jubilee was celebrated with a riot of putting competitions etc at a Gala Day where teas were arranged at 10d a head, showing a profit of 2d a head. A rink competition and (for the first time in the records) a mixed doubles competition was held. The ladies had joined us in 1924. They celebrated their 75th in 1999 and we congratulate them on this happy event. 

1999 saw the rebuilding of the external wall which had been condemned as dangerous by Dundee District Council a series of social events helped defray costs but the membership still faced an additional levy of some £140 each with lady members paying a proportionate amount. 

The millennium has seen our 125th celebrations marked by a series of events involving our friends from many of the clubs with whom we have shared the passion for bowling with over the last 125 years. In these celebrations we have saluted the pioneers who brought the Broughty Bowling Club into being. We salute, too, the many friends and great characters who helped make the Club what it is today. 

We look back with thankful hearts and we look forward in the hope that our successors a hundred and twenty five years from now will view our record with the same pride and gratitude.

Since the millennium we have been actively looking at extending the current facilities of the club, the windows overlooking the green have been completely refurbished with double glazed units and various plans have been considered for an extension to the building.

For a few years, up to 2010, the club ran a successful “lottery” which only its own members could participate in, quarterly draws were held and a share of the proceeds was transferred into the clubs development fund which has enabled a great deal of refurbishment work to be carried out.

Summer 2010 to March 2011 saw the club embark on a complete re-furbishment of the Gents Locker Room and the Club Lounge and Bar Area with extensive re-decoration, new lockers, carpets, tables, chairs and fabrics which have completely transformed the clubhouse areas. In addition a paved patio area has been created outside between the clubhouse and the original club house which had also undergone transformation throughout the 2011 season.