The Brief History of a Bowls Association born in 1895

A story told to record the past!

To relate the present and inspire the future of a great Bowling Association. ‘’There are still many places in London and the Southern Counties where the good old game of bowls is played with as much zest as in the age of the Spanish Armada and members of various clubs sill hold their friendly games, but in these busy times their claims fo sporting publicity have been scantily catered for’’ So read the heading to an article in the ‘'Sportsman”' newspaper on the 18th October 1895". A statement that could well be applied to this day and age.

The article carried on to say:

In order to remedy this and further popularise the game it occurred to Messrs Price and Foster of the Brownswood Club and Stokes and Wilkins of Bounds Green to start an Association of Bowling Clubs and to this end, they called a meeting at Winchester House, Old Broad Street. EC. on the 17th October 1895. This was attended by representatives of the following Metropolitan and Southern Bowling Clubs: Bounds Green, Bromley, Brownswood, Lewisham, West London, Reading. Southampton. Mansfleld, Ilford, Green Man (Upton Park) and Southampton County. Eleven Clubs in all. (Note: At the time of writing 2005, six of the clubs are still in being and affiliated with the Association) The proposal by Mr Cole of Southampton : *‘That an Association be formed was accepted unanimously. A Healthy child had been Born!!! The London and Southern Counties Bowling Association An affiliation fee of ‘*half a guinea’’ per club was accepted, with Archibald Gibson of Bromley being appointed Secretary/Treasurer. Earnest Price of the Brownswood Club took the Chair and agreed to stand for President at the first AGM, which was scheduled for March 1896. Ernest Price, the initiator of the formation of the Association, was President until 1898 then Hon. Secretary until 1900 and then Treasurer for the next 45 years. A truly extraordinary record of service.

First Laws as at 1899

These Laws are taken, exactly as written, from the London & Southern Counties B. A. Constitution & Rule Book of 1899. Spaces or Divisions of the Green On arranging a Match Game, the numbers of unoccupied spaces on the green to be put into a bag, and one drawn for, within the limits of which the play of the parties or rink must be confined. unless otherwise agreed on. Ordinary Games may be played without having recourse to drawing. but the play, in like manner, must be limited to the space. Each space shall be about 20 feet In width, numbered consecutively, the centre of each being, marked on the bank at each end by a pin or other device, and the four corners by pins driven into the ditch. The side boundaries of each space shall stretch from bank to bank. Points in the Game A Game may consist of any number of Points or heads, or may be played for any length of time, as previously fixed by the conditions of the contest, or agreed on between the parties. When more than one rink is engaged in the same match, the points of each to be added together and the gross number to decide the contest.

Rink or Team of Players

A rink or team shall consist of not more than four players a side, each playing two bowls, and called respectively, according to the order in which they play, leader, second player. third player, and skip or driver. The order not to be changed after the first end has been played.


The first player, or leader, to place the mat. throw the jack, count the game, and call out the result of each end to the driver as soon as it is declared.

Second Players

The second plavers to mark the game as called out by the leaders.


  1. Drivers to have the sole charge of their respective rinks, and their instructions to be implicitly obeyed by the other players they may appoint substitute to direct when they play themselves they are to be judges of all disputed points, and, if agreeing their decision to be final, if not, the matter to be decided by an umpire appointed by them.
  2. No person to direct, except the drivers or their substitutes.
  3. Although the players on the same side may consult with, or advise them. As soon as a bowl is greened, the director must retire two yards, at least, from the Jack, in order that the opposing party may witness the effects of the play.

Odd Bowls

  1. When the sides of a rink are unequal in number, they are to be balanced by the deficient party playing odd bowls.
  2. When the side playing the odd. bowls consists of two or more. the odd bowls shall be played by the first and last players.

Players looking on

All players, while looking on. to stand JACK HIGH. at least, and, unless acting as directors within three yards of the Jack.

The Mat

The mat shall not exceed 18 inches by 12 inches. The party playing to green the bow! with at least one foot on the mat. The mat to be properly placed before being played from, and not afterwards moved until the end is played out. If moved by accident, to be placed as near the original spot as possible. When the end is played out, the last player to remove the mat to the bank. At every end after the first. the mat to be placed within one yard from where the Jack rested at the conclusion of the previous end.

The Jack

  1. The Jack shall be about 24 inches in diameter.
  2. The throwing of the jack and playing first, to be decided by a toss up. or by ballot.
  3. If it be not thrown 21 yards from the mat or run into the ditch, the leader must throw again, and If then he falls to throw the Jack a mark, the opposite party to have the privilege of throwing it anew. but not of playing first.
  4. If it run within a yard of the ditch, it may be moved from one to two yards from it by either party
  5. If it run within two vyards of the side of the space. it must be moved to a sufficient distance to allow both fore and back hand play.

The Jack Not to be Interfered With

The Jack after being once played to, except when in the ditch, is not to be touched or interfered with, in any manner, otherwise than by the effects of the play, until the game is counted and both parties satisfied.

The Jack in the Ditch - Rebounding

When the Jack is run into the ditch. the end must be replayed.

The Jack Burned

When the Jack is burned by a neutral party, the end must begin afresh. If burned by any of the players, the opposing players to have the option of playing out the end, or beginning it anew.

Bowls - Size and Bias

No bowl shall be played which exceeds 16% inches In circumference, or which has a less bias the Standard bow! adopted by the Association [No.3 Bias - Nov 1897] bias than the Standard Bowl adopted by the Association.

Any bowl to which objection is taken, shall be tested by comparison with a standard bow! of the Association, bearing the Association's stamp. The test shall be applied, at the distance of 32 vards. by two referees appointed by the parties, and if the referees disagree. they shall appoint an umpire. In the event of a bowl being. declared of a less bias than the standard. the further use of it in that club match or competition shall not be allowed.


A bowl which rests outside the space. or which is driven off it by the effects of the play, is called a ditcher, and must be immediately removed to the bank.

Burned Bowls

  1. If a bowl, while running, is accidentally burned by a neutral party, or by an opponent, it shall be in the option of the party playing to let it rest, or play it over again.
  2. If burned by his own party. it may be put off the Green.
  3. When a bowl. while at rest. is burned by the party to which it belongs. it may be removed from the Green.
  4. If burned by a neutral party, or by an opponent. it is to be replaced as near its original position as possible.

Playing before a Bowl stops Running

No party to play until his opponent's bowl has ceased to run. A bowl so played. may be stopped and caused to be played over again.

Playing by mistake

When a bowl is played by mistake. it is to be replaced by the player's own bowl.

Playing out of Turn or Order

  1. If a bowl is played out of turn. the opponents may stop the bowl, allow it to remain where it rests, or cause It to be played over again in Its proper order. If it has moved either Jack or bowls. the opponents to have power to cause the end to be begun anew.
  2. A bowl, not played in order, cannot afterwards be played. if the second succeeding bowl has been greened.

Changing Bowls

No player to change his bowls during the game without permission from the opposite party.

A Bowl coming to Rest

After the last bowl of an end stops running, a half minute to be allowed, if required. Before counting the game.

Result of each end

  1. After an end is played, neither Jack nor bowls to be touched until both parties are satisfied. When two or more bowls are touching each other, they are not to be disturbed or removed until the result of the end is declared. When apart. each bowl may be removed and counted, as soon as it is admitted to be a shot by the opposite party.
  2. No measuring allowed during the playing of an end.
  3. No bowl to count that is further than six feet from the Jack.

Playing in the Dusk

Under no circumstances Is a cap, or other object, to be laid on the green, or placed on a bowl. or on the Jack: but for the guidance of the player, a cap, or any other object may be held over in front of either, but not both.


During the progress of a match, none but the players or the referee shall be allowed on green. Bystanders shall confine, themselves to the banks and preserve strict neutrality.