1917-18-19 – Most of the early detailed history of our bowling club is now sadly lost. Our neighbours North Leeds Cricket & Lawn Tennis Club who had been occupying the site since 1892 had, as I am given to understand, an element of older players who could no longer don their flannels and take to the cricket field and Tennis courts. These worthies instead came together and decided that what the club needed was a new Bowling Section.
The World War had not stopped the Club’s ambitions and negotiations were undertaken with the Town Clerk’s office to establish a lease for Tennis, Cricket and the inclusion of a new bowling green. These negotiation became protracted when the Town Clerk via the Parks and Legal Departments tried to impose a lease that would have required the club to pay rent for a bowling green that did not at that point exist. Then in 1918 – 19 period, following the end of hostilities, and with servicemen returning from foreign battlefields thoughts must have gradually turned back to pre-war pastimes and interests. It may be
surmised that as the country settled slowly back into some level of normality sports clubs that had struggled on through the war years would begin to re-establish and slowly expand their activities.
Apparently in the course of this period a sub committee of the Tennis and Cricket Club was established to look into the options. By the close of the year the new section had been approved and a committee formed and in principal the North Leeds Bowling Club section was born in early 1919.
Negotiations with the City Council eventually established approval to the leasing of the extra land to the south of the Cricket Ground as part of the overall lease for the site that we and the Cricket Club currently occupy.
A plan of works was drawn up in conjunction with the Parks Department and a contract proposed to level up a suitable area of the sloping land by means of a cut and fill process to form the area into a potential bowling green.
1920 – In the early part of the year a Council appointed contractor commenced and undertook the detailed construction of the sub base, drainage and ultimately the playing surface of the green itself. It is not known for sure how the playing surface itself was prepared. It may have been seeded however since it was actually first played on in 1921 it would suggest that probably it had been turfed in the early growing season of 1920 and for a year allowed to settle before being played upon. It was in fact at the Cricket and Tennis AGM of 1920 held at St John’s Parochial Rooms that the inauguration of the Bowling Club section was finally agreed.
1921 – This was the year in which the North Leeds Crown Green Bowling Club actually commenced playing on their new green. The new facility was duly opened on the 23rd April 1921 and to quote from Ian Chappell’s book “A Century at the Homestead” the Monday edition of the Yorkshire Post commented “A new section of North Leeds Cricket and Tennis Club was successfully inaugurated on Saturday when a bowling green was opened, a good company of ladies and gentlemen assembling at the Homestead Grounds in Roundhay to witness the first woods being bowled.”
1922 – To further quote from Ian Chappell’s book “Financially, however, the joint club remained in debt, accumulated to £323 by 1922 and loans in multiples of £1 for four years were suggested to members. A set of rules was agreed to incorporate a Board of Control and Secretariat with separate committees for each section. However the cricket section constantly blocked these as they did not wish to inherit the club debt allegedly caused by the other sections.” These were obviously the costs involved in the creation of the new bowling provision and the Tennis sections construction of a new pavilion. To revert to Ian’s narrative “The serious financial situation led to a Special General Meeting in September, where measurers such as “Christmas Cheer” and “Whist Drives and Dances” were agreed to raise funds” The Cricket Club however would only agree to sectionalising of the club if they, themselves, were freed from debt.
“Eventually in March 1923 following much prevarication the Board got three recommendations carried – ‘that sections would be responsible for the repayment of loans raised by their own sections’ and that the Tennis and Bowling sections be responsible for the bank overdraft”
1923 – From this point it may be said that the Bowling Club operated independently. Still part of the central lease operated by the Board overseeing the three entities of the club but responsible for all related decisions both financial and bowling related. From this point until 1936 it appears that all records have been mislaid and so how things progressed may only be speculated upon.