Dale bowls club on drive to survive

A once thriving Nidderdale sports club is battling for survival.

Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 10:52 am
Pateley Bridge Bowling Club and the oldest member 94-year-old Gladys Blakeson. Picture Gerard Binks

Officials at Pateley Bridge and Upper Nidderdale Bowls Club say the sport is in danger of ceasing in the area after 100 years due to dwindling membership,

Secretary Chris Ellwood said: “The club is currently in dire straits due to reducing membership.

“It is a long-established club but without an influx of members could soon be facing extinction.”

Pateley Bridge Bowling Club. Pictured Chris Ellwood and Mable Parker playing a game on the Green at Pateley Bridge. Picture Gerard Binks

Mr Ellwood said that records show that bowling took place on a green at what is now the Sportsman’s Arms at Wath in the 1920s.

Post World War Two, records show that bowls was played on the current green in Pateley Bridge.

“At that time the club had an informal structure, playing the occasional friendly match, but in 1957, now formally constituted, the club entered the Harrogate League system, playing in Division 5 of the mid-week Evening League ” added Mr Ellwood.

“Club Officers were Bill Smith (President), Bill Watts (Secretary) and George Hackney (Treasurer).

Pateley Bridge bowls club in 1988. Pictured Back row: Mike Hall, Paul Kendall, Paul Kirkbright, Harold Holdsworth, George Hackney. Front row: Betty Watts, Cyril Squires.

“The club’s playing strength and fortunes improved steadily over the ensuing 50 years, with the first team earning promotions through to Division 2 of the Evening League and even touching the heady heights of Division 1 for a single season in 2012.”

A further three teams competed in the Evening League, which, with two teams in the ‘Vets’ League, made a total of six club teams in action each week.

“Sadly those days are just a fond memory now, and the club is fighting for its very existence,” added Mr Ellwood.

The Crown Green bowls club is fighting back and offering people the chance to banish coronavirus restrictions with outdoor exercise.

“Hope springs eternal, however, and an innovative recruitment campaign is under way,” added Mr Ellwood.

“Prospective members can pick any day or time for an appointment for a free taster session, and are welcome to join just as social members, should they not have the time or inclination to commit to league matches.”

Although bowls is often regarded as a sport for older generations, Mr Ellwood said it is great for anyone and has many benefits.

“It is an absorbing and sociable game and is a gentle outdoor exercise that is fun to play.

Anyone interested is urged to contact Chris Ellwood on 712721, or [email protected], to arrange a time to play.

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