Club history

The earliest record of anything similar to today's game of bowls was in the 13th century. Bowls was certainly being played in St Ives at the time of Edmund Pettis' survey of 1728. The image below shows an area for bowling at the current day junction of East Street (called Backside in 1728) and St John's Road. The area was notorious being the meeting place for professional and amateur pugilists.

1728 Pettis map.
St Ives Bowls Club was formed in 1908. There was discussion about town of forming a bowling club early that year. In June the Town Council Parks Committee recommended they set aside land for the bowling club to the north of The Spinney. Provision of land would dispel views the bowling green was private property for the advantage of a few (note for current day potential members, the Club welcomes new member applications, click the 'Join us' button on the left). The St Ives Flower Show already used the land annually to stage their dance. The meeting mentioned continued use of the north side of The Spinney for the Show. 

By the time of the first St Ives Bowls Club meeting three weeks later the Club had made a decision to use the ground 'now owned by Mr Perkins', this being the ground currently occupied by the Club. Why did the Club turn down the offer of land from the Town Council? Was possible damage from the Flower Show dance a deciding factor, or did Club members not wish to be in the debt of the Town Council?

A map from 1902 showing the location the Club chose is shown below. The location is also marked on the 1808 enclosure map.

1902 map showing location of bowls club.
Shown below is an aerial photo of the Club eleven years after formation. The green was located on what is now used as an overflow car park for Club members. It appears to have three rinks at most. The current location of the green and clubhouse is in the field to the right.

1919 aerial photo of St Ives.
Until the closure of St Ives railway station in 1970, passing trains were a regular view from the Club ground. The image below from 1950 shows the green in the location it occupies today.

1950 aerial photo of St Ives.
To read newspaper reports dated from 1908 detailing the formation of the Club and matches played, click one of the links below.