The History of Lauder Bowling Club
Lauder Bowling Club was granted an area of 40 square yards at a meeting held by Lauder Town Council on the 10th of February 1888. The area of land set aside for a bowling green was in Loan Park on the west side of Captain Murray’s feu, with a condition that a rent of ten shillings be paid to the burgh annually at Martinmas.
On 8th March 1888 a meeting of subscribers was held to see if it was possible to raise enough funds to form a Bowling Club in Lauder. The Rev. Thomas Martin had the task of raising cash. He thought that about £10 for such a project would be a good start. He was soon promised £80 from 3 gentlemen in the Burgh. Rev. Martin then obtained subscriptions to the amount of £146. He felt that was a sufficient sum to get matters underway and the task of starting the Club began. W. Romanes was to form Lauder Bowling Club. The first Office Bearers were the Honorary President William H. Allan of Allanbank; Presidents Mr Robert Symington (one of the bailies of the town) & Robert Romanes of Harryburn (town clerk); and the Secretary and Treasurer Mr W. Laidlaw. The cash started to flow in at the next meeting (17th March 1888); £40 from William H Allan; £20 from W. Romanes; £20 from W. Symington; £5 donations from Thomas G Broomfield of Loanside House in Lauder, the earl of Lauderdale and others interested in forming Lauder Bowling Club.
The town council granted permission to cut about 1600 square yard of turf from the common to lay the green at a cost of £27 3s 4d. The 2020 cost for laying a green could be anywhere from £30,000 to £50,000.
Eventually, through hard work on the green, the first game was played on 27th September 1888. Four triples took part. The first Club House was built and completed in April 1889 at a cost of £26 5s. Our latest Club House is the third one and cost £54,400. As the years rolled on the Club got stronger—they started to play in a League with the surrounding areas including friendlies with Clubs in the Lothians. More and more Club competitions were formed playing for cups donated from various people.
At the AGM (30th April 1914) the Border Bowling Association admitted Lauder Bowling Club to their Association, lauder having been proposed by Duns and Earlston. 31 Clubs made up the Border Bowling Association at that time.
In 1922 Lauder Bowling Club was accepted into the Scottish Bowling Association. Fundraising has been an item since the Club started and to the present day one year stands out— this was 1924 when Lauder Bowling Club asked William Sleigh to bring 3 rinks from Edinburgh Corporation to play Lauder which was, of course, accepted. Sleigh was a Lauder boy and went on to become Lord Provost of Edinburgh. He also attended Buckingham Palace to receive his knighthood where he became Sir William Lowrie Sleigh. On the day of the match, 17th July 1924, Sir William presented Lauder Bowling Club with a silver cup. The cup was engraved the Lord Provost Sir William Sleigh Cup. The trophy is being played for to the present day.
Like any other club, problems cropped up in the war years 1940-45 — the green deteriorated to the extent that it was required to be re-turfed. The contract was given to Solway Turf. The cost was quite hefty at £585 so the members were asked for a £10 interest free loan to meet the expenses. A sale of work was organised which raised £306 1s 6d (23rd September 1944). After much hard work the green was finally opened by Provost J.B. Watson on the 30th June 1945. It was in 1946 that another league was formed to be called the Tweedenlea League, clubs being Melrose, Gordon, Earlston and Lauder.
As the years progressed the original Club House was in need of being replaced as it was 90 years old, therefore it was agreed to get grants to help out with the costs. £500 was received from the Council and £620 from the Sports Council to erect a larger Club House. It was also discussed and proposed to have a bar in the new Club House which was passed by 23 votes to 1. The Licensing Court granted the Club a Licence for a bar to start from 5th May 1980. As the Club's Centenary was drawing close it was decided to start a fund for our celebrations which proved to be a very busy year on the Green. At the close of the season a Dinner Dance was held in the Public Hall, with invited guests from all the Borders Clubs and representatives from the Ladies & Gents Scottish Bowling Association, welcomed by the President Elect Mr John A. Middlemiss.
With regionalisation all the local Town Councils were to be scrapped. The Club were concerned about the Green but before the Town Council ended it was agreed that Lauder Bowling Club be conveyed to the Club without any price being paid on 28th June 1974.
1996 was a busy year for the Club Officials as it was decided to build a brand-new Club House with all the latest equipment as the millennium was drawing close. Two members, John Darling and B. Day put in endless hours raising funds to sponsor the project plus paperwork in applying for Lottery funding. Funds were obtained from various sources—£18,600 from a Lottery Grant; £12,000 from Building Fund; £10,000 from the Common Good Fund. The building of the new Club House was a big task as it was reconstructed by the members under the supervision of the 2 member joiners Billy Nisbet and J. Middlemiss. The grand opening was performed by the Scottish Bowling Association President Mr J. Renwick of Hawick in June 1997. A large turnout of members and officials spent a most enjoyable social evening. At the close of the night President John Darling thanked everyone for all their efforts and on their great achievements for Lauder Bowling Club.
Lauder has produced many excellent Champions who have gone on to represent the club at the Scottish finals. One dedicated member was D.W. Harvey, the local School Headmaster, who was the Club Secretary and Treasurer for 42 years. He also won the Club Championship 6 times, the first time being in 1928 and amazingly his last win came some 51 years later in 1979. We would be amazed if anyone else could ever repeat that achievement!