If its red you can click it.                     

The game of Bowls has been played in Bristol for at least 400 years according to a report published in the Bristol Times and Mirror on the 21st May 1906. It stated that in 1602 on what is now Queens Square and was then known as the Marsh, a Green was laid out by the City Surveyors for the ‘Merchants and Gentlemen’ to play their Bowls.

There was at this time a Bowling Green in the Pithay as well as The Cock Pit, St. James Barton, Redcliffe Hill, Wapping, and Hotwells.

In preparation for the Siege of 1643 the Green in the Marsh was destroyed to make way for a Battery. It was not until 1894 that the first organised Bowls Club was formed in Bristol under the title The Bristol Arrow Bowling and Quoits Club. The Green was at the County Cricket Ground (photo) and the original members were all connected to the printing firm of J. W. Arrowsmith. The initial subscription was 2/-.

The book ‘The First Hundred Years’ by John Lawes is a comprehensive account of the Club’s history. Some of the more noteworthy events are listed here.

1894 - The Arrow Bowling and Quoits Club was formed.

W. G. Grace advised J. W. Arrowsmith and John Spry, the Head Groundsman at the County Cricket Ground, to build a bowling green in the corner of the ground. Thus our club was born.


1896 - The first bowls match in Bristol for over two hundred years was played on the Arrow green on Saturday August 8th between the Arrow and the Bristol Burns Club. There were only 2 rinks a side and after 2 hours play the Burns Club won 35 shots to 27.

1899 - There were no matches played due to the outbreak of the Boer war.

1900 - Victoria, W-s-M visited us in July, the Arrow winning 64 to 46 in a 3 rink match. In September the Arrow returned their visit at the Winter Gardens this time losing 31 to 72.


1902 - Founder member of the West of England and South Wales Coronation Bowling League.  (photo)


1903 - The ‘Quoits’ was dropped from our title and we became the Bristol Arrow Bowling Club.  (photo)

W. G. Grace was a founder member and first President of the English Bowling Association.

The club was affiliated to the EBA for a fee of 10/6d.

1905 -  Staff from other printing firms and newspapers were invited to become members.


1906 - It was decided to relay the bowling green at the County Ground. The green was relayed and extended to 4 rinks. John Spry supervised the laying of nearly 20,000 turfs. He did the task so well that the green was officially opened by J. W. Arrowsmith J. P. and the Sheriff of Bristol on May 19th 1906. Bristol B. C. and Weston Victoria B. C. were invited to the occasion (see program). Fixed Jack competitions were the order of the day, with targets being circles 1’ in diameter for 3 points, 2’ in diameter for 2 points and 3’ diameter for 1 point, the bowling lengths from the mat being 30 yards, 25 yards and 38 yards in sequence. Ladies also played, whilst scoring the same points as the men, the mat was restricted to 16 yards.

We were founder members of the West of England Bowling League.


1907 - The first Ladies Day.  (photo)

The green was enlarged by the addition of 2 rinks, presumably to 6 rinks.


1908 - A Testamonial Festival of Sport was held in Honour of John Spry, Groundsman for 21 years.  (photo)

A new pavilion was erected at a cost of £50.


1910 - Mr Arrowsmith protested that Ladies were being allowed to play on the Green and stated that the club was started as a men’s club and so long as he was a member of it, it must remain so.

1914 - The West of England Bowling League ceased when the Somerset County BA was founded.

Mr J. Rafter of the University Club, when responding to a toast at the Arrow end of season dinner, suggested that a group of men could hire a long room where ‘druggets’ might be laid down and games played. This could be the first idea of ‘Indoor Bowls’, which did not happen in Bristol until 1950.

A drugget is a woven and felted coarse woollen fabric.

1915 - The Arrow affiliated to the Somerset BA.


1916 - Negotiations with the Midland Railway Company started for the acquisition of a new green at Redland. An Annual Rental of £25 was arranged. The ground was previously used by the Clarendon and Hughendon Tennis Clubs. The laying of the green cost £55.


1917 - All matches played away, no home green.


1918 - Our green was opened at Redland by the Vice President F. N. Cowlin (later Sir Francis). Our President Major J. A. Arrowsmith-Brown D. S. O. was on active service with the Signal Company of the South Midland Engineers. The first game was played against a combination side with one rink from each of Clevedon, Bristol, Knowle and Imperial. The visitors won by 80 shots to 65.

Membership restrictions were lifted and we became a fully independent club.  (photo)


1919 - The green was relaid with Cumberland turf at a cost of £440.

The Railway Company gave us a lease for 7 years at £20 pa.


1925 - The new pavilion, costing £650.17.6, was opened by the Lord Mayor. (photo)


1927 - A further lease was secured for 10 years at £25 pa.


1928 - Our first bowling tour was to the Isle of Wight.


1933 - The ‘Chalet’ was built for £114 and was opened by the President on April 29th.  (photo)


1936 - After 21 years membership of the Somerset BA the EBA directed us to switch county affiliation to Gloucestershire (GBA). We were a founder member of the City and County of Bristol BA (CCBBA).

Our lease was secured for another 21 years at £55 pa.


1937 - The green was relaid and benches were provided round the green.

1938 - The pavilion was extended to allow for the increased number of players and friends at some of  the matches. The cost was £120.


1944 - Bristol Arrow Jubilee.  (photo)

The War Damage Commission awarded the club £56 6s 0d for damage to the pavilion and £27 15s 10d for damage to the Chalet.


1947 - The Arrow initiated the ‘Over 80’s’ match.

Our 4th tour and first post-war tour to South Devon.


1950 - Arrow members were instrumental in founding the Bristol Indoor Bowls Club. The first headquarters were at Bristol South Baths with 3 rinks playing on a carpet laid on a wooden surface over the baths. This soon became inadequate so the club moved to the Dolman Stand at Bristol A.F.C. In 1971.


1954 - The green suffered from Fusarium disease, Bristol St Andrews kindly let us play our home games at Derby Rd. All club competitions were cancelled.


1957 - The Arrow commenced sponsorship of the ‘Harry Priday’ Memorial matches with the proceeds going to the CCBBA Benevolent Fund. Originally organised by Harry Priday O.B.E., J.P. in 1950 between the TGWU and other players connected with transport. When Harry died in 1962 Cecil Punchard took over the organisation. The games in those days were 3 rinks from the CCBBA and 3 rinks from the Arrow against 2 rinks from each of Avonmouth, Ardagh and National Smelting.


1958 - The club badge was changed to include our title.


1964 - Our green hosted the GBA v South African Tourists.

1966 - The ‘Carmarthen’ rink was formed. Bert Cuff  as skip, Bill Spry as 3, Reg Warn as 2 and George Upham as lead. On one occasion at The Falcon they played against another rink of ‘Oldies’. After the match it was found that the combined ages of the 6 players was 608 years, about the age of the Falcon green.


1968 - Ladies were admitted as Associate Members for £1 10s 0d.


1971 - The first tourists to play us on a Sunday were the Ealing Tourists. This started regular Sunday games with coach trips to Southampton, Cardiff, Minehead and Queen Camel.


1974 - A Victorian match was held to celebrate our 80 years.  (photo)

Harold Maynard bowled the first wood. It was after the CCBBA match that the Club was presented with a pair of woods that had belonged to J. W. Pearce, our Hon. Secretary and our Hon. Treasurer in 1902.


1975 - The Winstone Cup was given to the club in memory of Cliff Winstone’s father. The cup was played for by the ladies who helped with the teas.


1976 - The start of regular tours to south Devon. A ladies rink was included in each of the matches.

1977 - The E. B. A. reduced the age limit to 14 years thus allowing boys to play in matches and competitions.


1978 - A new fixture was arranged with Bristol Blind Bowling Club.

We were the first West Country Bowls Club to hold a Frances Drake Fellowship Tournament.


1980 - Our oldest member, Sam Crabbe, was 100 years old on December 12th.

A new lease was finalised with British Rail for a period of 15 years at a cost of £400.

The club entered the South West Bowling League, later to become the Bristol and District Bowling League.

On the 25th May the Arrowsmith printing firm, represented by Ms Victoria Arrowsmith-Brown and her brother James, played a match on the Arrow green.


1981 - ‘A Century of Arrows’ was written by George Allen.

On the 17th September H. C. H. (Cecil) Punchard died. At the time he was our longest serving member having joined the club in 1929. He had been Secretary and Chairman of the Arrow and President of the CCBBA.

Plans for another extension were passed by the Planning Committee.  (photo)


1982/83 - Work on the extension, during a really bad winter, was mainly carried out by our own members. (Roll of Honour)


1984 - Completion of the 3 year out-of-season work program to extend the pavilion.


1986 - The green and pavilion sold to a property developer. Lease uncertain.

1987 - We purchased green and pavilion from the developer. First Coaching course.


1988 - The Bristol Arrow Bowling Club became a limited company.

The Ladies Bowling Club was founded by Mrs Pat Marsh.


1994 - Centenary Year.

A celebratory dinner was held in the Merchant Suite of the UWE on 29th October. (photo)

Special matches were played against  Devon, EBA, Fowey, GBA, GBA VPs, Somerset, Mackintosh and the Royal Household.

The stone wall round 2 edges of our property was built by Fred Avery.  (photo)


2000 - The second extension to the club house was built, with new changing rooms. (photo)

The majority of the work was carried out by our own members. (Roll of Honour)


2015 - Our oldest ex-member, Reg Gould, was 100 years old on February 7th.


2016 - The Arrow Bowls Club finally agreed to become a mixed club.

On September 12 in the afternoon just after the Umbrella game had finished a helicopter landed on the green. A medical emergency somewhere nearby required the services of the helicopter and our green was the only area big enough for it to land.  (photo)

2019 - The extension and refurbishment of the Ladies Changing Room was completed.  (photo)

We celebrated our 125th Anniversary with a few special matches against Gloucester BA, Somerset BA and

Island Bohemian BC.  (photos)

Our longest serving member, Alan Wells, was presented with a cake and a card on Captains Day in honour

of his 50 years in the Arrow.  (photos)

An Automatic Watering System was installed. The tarmac path around 3 sides of the green was also

replaced with coloured bricks under which the pipework was buried.  (photos)

additional historical snippets  >>>

A list of some of our members since 1894 can be seen here

             Bristol Arrow Bowling Club  

Home Contacts Location History Gallery Fixtures competitions Tourists links

             Bristol Arrow Bowling Club