Linlithgow Bowling Club recently reached a remarkable milestone, celebrating its 150th birthday!
And to mark such a prestigious event, West Lothian Council staged a civic reception in the town’s Burgh halls to honour the club.
Provost Tom Kerr hosted the reception and presented the gents’ and ladies’ presidents, Gary Smith and Ann Robertson, with a commemorative shield and all members received a lapel pin to mark the special occasion.
Provost Kerr said: “It was a great honour to meet so many members of the club and celebrate their 150th year anniversary.
‘‘It’s amazing to think that back in 1865 members of the Linlithgow community started up their bowling club and here we are today to mark this special anniversary.
‘‘Bowling clubs are important local community facilities offering fun and enjoyment for their members. The Linlithgow club members must be very proud of their club and the impact that it has had on the town since 1865.”
History shows that the club was formed in 1865 when a group of local businessmen bought some land at the east of the town at Provost Road, close to the current Bellsburn Bowling Club.
But it was not until 1881 that the game of bowls in Linlithgowshire was acknowledged by Lord Rosebery, whereupon he offered a cup to be played for by clubs across the county.
A year later, Linlithgow became one of the six founding members of the Linlithgow Bowling Association along with Bo’ness, Bathgate, Armadale, Queensferry and Kirkliston.
The club’s early years were fruitless when it came to trophy success and it took until 1890, its 25th anniversary, for it to lift the Rosebery Cup for the first time with a win over Bathgate.
Nine years later a decision was made to relocate the club with members seeking to purchase farmland belonging to Major Chalmers of Longcroft at £8 per acre.
With membership around 80, they pledged £350 toward the cost of laying the new green and the rehomed club officially opened on May 16, 1900, but it took another 11 years for their makeshift clubhouse to be replaced at a cost of £146.
The club celebrated its golden jubilee in 1915 with president Robert Mickel JP being the only surviving original member and the winning of the County pairs. Another county pairs triumphed was had in 1929.
It took until 1953 before ladies were admitted as members but they could only play on afternoons.
A year later, the club lifted the Livingstone Trophy and the women tasted success in the East of Scotland Pairs in 1956 and 1957.
The 1980s proved very successful with Malcolm Graham being Scottish Junior Singles champion in 1981 before going on to represent Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in 1986.
Stewart Getty won the County Champion of Champions title in 1987 while Elizabeth-Ann Meenan rep-resented the Scottish Junior Ladies that same year.
1989 saw the club lift four titles, the Scottish triples and fours as well as the Rosebery Cup and the Livingston Trophy.
The 1990s was a barren decade for national titles other than the Scottish triples in 1997.
But in recent years, club president Gary Smith won the West Lothian Masters in 2010.
His wife, Linda, has won the ladies’ club title seven years in a row and the Scottish singles title for the past three years, the UK singles title and most recently the World Champion of Champions title in 2014.
President Gary, who is also the chief executive of World Bowls, said: ‘‘I am honoured to be the president in what is our 150th year but, like everyone else at the club over the past 150 years, we are only the guardians for its future.’’
Gary added that the club was in a healthy state with around 100 playing members and 30 associate members and added a number of events are planned for the coming season which opens on April 25 and will culminate on Saturday, October 3, with an anniversary dinner-dance at Linlithgow Academy.
nA special 24-page colour anniversary booklet can be downloaded from the club’s website at www.linlithgowbowlingclub.co.uk