The Formation of Poole Park Bowling Club took place at a meeting called by L. D. Ballard, the Mayor of Poole, at the Guildhall on Tuesday 1st June 1909. There were 16 people present as bowling had little following in the area at the time. His Worship the Mayor was elected President.
Work on laying the Green had been undertaken by local, un-employed workers during the previous months and such planning ensured that the town got a valuable asset, while those out of work were able to feed their families. The cost is said to be “upwards of £200”.
The 15th June 1909 was a great day, with representatives from Bournemouth Council and the Poole Council joining with Poole Park Bowling Club members to open the new green. A representative team from Meyrick Park Bowling Club came to give the Poole Park membership, that had already risen to about 50, a demonstration on how to play the game.
In 1910 the club joined the Bournemouth and District Bowling Association and, with their limited experience, lost most of the matches played.
The provision of a Pavilion was discussed at a Committee Meeting in January 1913 and it was decided to raise the idea with the Parks Committee at their next Meeting. The Council agreed provided that the Club repay them at a rate of 5% per year of the claimed outlay of £150. A site was found and the pavilion was built by September of the same year.
The Clubs first badge was designed in 1915, although over the years there were several changes made. In 1924 the club asked to incorporate the Poole Coat of Arms into the design of the badge and the Club Colours for the production of a tie were agreed.
1919 saw the Club apply to become affiliated to the English Bowls Association (the forerunner of Bowls England). A flag was purchased in the Club Colours and a Mr. Habgood presented the Club with a flag pole.
In 1921 there was a request form Wimborne Bowls Club to join with other clubs in Dorset to form the Dorset County Bowling Association. This was agreed to, and Mr. Young of Poole Park was elected to be the first President.
By 1925 a new flag was presented in the new colours and a new badge was produced. The Club requested a new pavilion from the Council.
As popularity of the game continued to grow, a second green was laid during the winter of 1929-30 and opened on May 28th 1930 with a match between the Dorset County Bowling Association and the three Poole Borough Clubs.
1932 was the year that Poole Park member, Edwin “Percy” Baker, won the first of his four English Bowls Association Singles titles and brought Poole Park Bowling Club to the notice of the rest of the bowling world. Percy Baker went on to become one of the most outstanding players of all time. His full list of achievements can be found here.
The first Poole Park Bowls Tournament was held in 1936 with the co-operation of the other Clubs in the Borough, seeing 112 entries and a first prize of 3 guineas.
Poole Park contributed immensely when Dorset County won the Middleton Cup in 1938 (the English inter-County Championship), as the Dorset Team of 24 included 10 Poole players.
During the Second World War years, all League Games were cancelled, although the Club played many Competitions to raise funds for Cornelia Hospital and the Dorset County War Fund. It also made donations to many other organisations that requested funds.
1949 was the season that the Club decided that it would join the Dorset League. In the past they had played only friendly games and competitions with other members of the County.
In 1950 a number of ladies expressed a desire to form a bowls club and the Poole Park Women’s Bowls club was officially opened on 29 April 1951. At the end of 1954, the Council started mprovements and a separate pavilion for the ladies.
In 1965 the Poole Borough Bowling Association requested permission from the Council to hold an annual Open Tournament, which was agreed on the condition that Poole Park was the tournament headquarters. During the negotiations into the facilities that the Club required it was stated “A bar would not be to our advantage”. This has since proved to be the biggest wrong assumption ever made by the Club’s Management and has, of course, since been rectified!
1991 saw major changes with the Mens and Ladies clubs combining, but with separate sections. The Club also took out a lease of the bowls facilities. Further discussions with the Council led to the Club taking over maintenance of the Greens from spring 1995. A mower was purchased, and a contractor was hired. The pebbles in the ditches were replaced with a new rubber matting.
2001 saw the opening of the present pavilion with the help of Lottery funds following many years hard work. The Official opening was carried out by the Deputy Mayor on 22nd June 2001.
The introduction of Short Mat bowling during the winter months of 2002 resulted in the introduction of a third section to the management of the Club. Two mats and all the necessary equipment were purchased, before it was found that the Pavilion floor was not level. This was rectified by Dales Floors Ltd at a cost of £2,600 to the Club.
Today, the Club continues to count many Champions and ex-Champions (at County, National and International levels) amongst its Members and, over recent years, the game has begun to attract interest from a wider audience, with players of all ages now taking part. The Club is well represented in both Bournemouth & District and County Leagues, as well as a wide range of Competitions, including our own internal Club Competitions for everyone from novice bowlers to those with more experience. A number of touring Clubs join us for Friendly Matches throughout the Season and there is also a strong social side to the Club, with regular “Roll-Ups” and Social Evenings.
Poole Park are also very proud of their involvement with the Dorset Bowls Youth Academy, which is seeing many young players enjoying success in the game.