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1927 - The Opening Game

Article from Rugby Advertiser dated Friday June 3rd 1927


Carried through at a cost of over £1,500, the Rugby Bowling Club's scheme for having their own full size Cumberland Turf green and pavilion, instead of playing on the Rugby Urban District Council's green in the Recreation ground, advanced as far as the opening ceremony on Saturday.

The ground is pleasantly situated close to the Bilton Road on the Westfield Park Estate (which is being laid out by Mr. W. H. Taplin). The green has been built up on a level piece of ground at the foot of the first hill from Rugby and the pavilion faces across the Park, towards Rugby.

In the first match, Rugby beat the Warwickshire County Bowling Association by 138 shots to 91.

Mr. J. T. Clarke unlocked the pavilion - a large timber and tiled structure with verandah - surmounted by a clock, providing changing rooms, a main room, bar and other offices. The flag at the entrance near which is a tennis court, also the property of the club, in the absence of Mrs. Margesson, was unfurled by Mrs Wardrop and she was handed a bouquet by Audrey Taplin.

Capt Margesson remarked that a politicians duties were heavy and kept him too much indoors so that it was a pleasure to attend an open air game. Young people should not imagine that bowls is a game for old men for it provided plenty of exercise. The ceremony was the outcome of a great deal of hard work by the committee, the success following two previous attempts which, for one reason or another, failed.
Bowlers' Dream Comes True 
After the opening of the pavilion, Mr. W. H. Taplin, contractor and a member of the club, handed the key to Mr. Clarke who said it was his pleasure last autumn to congratulate the club on the prospect of a new ground and now it was a privilege and a joy to congratulate them on its consummation. They have a green in beautiful surroundings to which they would not be ashamed to invite any club in England. The club had been in bonds since its formation and now the bonds were severed and they could do as they pleased without fear or favour. Having dreamed dreams for years and years of a bowling green, a tennis court, putting green with babbling brook running through and a pavilion where they could get refreshments, their dream had come true.

The fame of bowls is an ancient one. Southampton claimed that they laid down the first bowling green in 1299. Plymouth Hoe was where Drake was said to have played, Shakespeare was supposed to have played and if he did not, he knew about it, for he mentioned the game in several plays. There was scarcely a town where bowls was not played. It is as much a national game as cricket and football. People said it is an old man's game - it was. There was an old man who went to the green at Bournemouth within a month of his 103rd birthday. It is also a young mans' game and young men were taking it up. Bowls was a popular national, pleasant, sociable, skilful and healthy game.

The green had not been laid without a tremendous amount of work. In October last year they appointed as directors Messrs. Bluemel, White, Howell, Dr. T. Wardrop, Pollard, Johnson and P. James. They put their hearts and souls in the work from the beginning and had given unstintingly of their time and abilities and he hoped they were as proud of the result as were the other members. Mr. C. Antill, the Hon. Secretary, had been energetic and had 'come through smiling'. Mr W.H. Taplin, the contractor, has shown a sporting interest in the affair from the beginning and had made it possible by selling the ground at a reasonable price and granting them many favours. They were also grateful for various gifts of seats, chairs, plants, shrubs, clock and fittings from the following: Dr. T. Wardrop, Messrs. C.W.Bluemel, B Haynes, F. Down, T. Shenton, R. A. Avery, J. Beese, H. Ridgeway, L. S. Howell, H. H. Goods, T. Banner, A. W. Smith, T. A. Ryecroft, C. Antill, R. Thomas, W. Cowley, W. H. Taplin, A. E. Townsend, J. Pariss, E. J. Brievogel, E. Woodroffe, E. J. Pollard, C. H. Rowbottom, H. H. White, F, Lloyd, W. Tomes, A. Bodycote, A. Whittaker, P. James and W. Herbert.

The scheme had cost £1,500 and they had raised about £1,100 in £1 shares.

Warwickshire's Congratulations 
Capt. Margesson supported the appeal that the club should not suffer from lack of financial support. Mr. H. Lupton-Reddish conveyed the good wishes of the Warwickshire County Bowls Association of which he is president and said it was the ambition of every bowler to play on a Cumberland Turf green, for they all knew what it is to put down a good wood nicely delivered and with nice weight and then, just as they thought it was going near what it was put down to do, it kicked out against the bias. It would be a season or two before this green settled down and he gave them the heartiest good wishes for the success of the green.

C. Antill proposed a vote of thanks to the speakers and in seconding, Mr. F. Black referred to the fact that Mr. Clarke had been connected with the Club almost since its formation. He had been ''pitch-forked'' into offices of nearly every kind and deserved the heartiest thanks to all bowlers for his work. They also owed a debt of gratitude to Mr. Reddish, a member of the club, who as their legal advisor had done his utmost to help them 

At the tea provided for players and visitors, Mr. W. H. Taplin, captain of the club, welcomed the members of the county team and said it was a proud day in the progress of the club, for they had long cherished a dream to possess their own private green and pavilion, especially a Cumberland Turf green and all that that meant. The real initiative was taken after the match last September, for on congratulating Capt. Strong and Coventry club on their enterprise, he responded by urging Rugby to 'buck up and get busy'. They had been busy, they were also proud and honoured to be playing Warwickshire and asked them to take their greetings to their respective clubs and tell them they were looking forward to playing them in many pleasant matches both at Rugby and away.

Councillor W. Ivens, Capt. of the county team, said as one who had a great deal to do with recreation and games in Coventry he appreciated the private enterprise in Rugby and they would find being under their own control better than public control.

The chairman proposed thanks to the press and Mr. E Woodroffe, an ex-secretary of the English Bowling Association said the Association was looking for its strength to private clubs rather than municipal greens, which were not self-supporting. Touching on the rise of the level green game, he pointed out that it was due to the enterprise of some Scotsmen in London about 70 years ago and the level green game was the only one they learned and could give them internationals. He had a great respect for the crown game, but the asset of the level green game was sociability. He read a telegram from the Middlesex County Bowls Association congratulating Warwickshire on the opening of Cumberland Turf greens at Rugby and Coventry.

Among the guests were Mr. C. W. Beadle, secretary of Cambridge County Bowls Association. and Mr. S. R.H. Molyneux of Bedford Bowls Club, an ex-president of the English Bowling Association and a native of Rugby.

Rugby Bowling Club 1927 - The Opening Game