Visitors bowled over by Biggar welcome

The oldest bowling club in Clydesdale is undoubtedly Lanark Thistle; the club dates back to the 18th century and is probably the oldest in Scotland.

This image depicts the wounded soldiers and sailors who were entertained at Biggar Bowling Club in August 1917, following their dedicated service to Queen and country during World War One.

However, this week the spotlight falls on Biggar Bowling Club which is also one of the area’s oldest clubs – and its history has been better chronicled!

Biggar BC started in the grounds of a motte and bailey castle. It was constructed in the bailey area of Biggar Castle. The original club was laid out between the Gillespie Motte Park Manse and the motte of Biggar Castle. Regrettably its construction led to the destruction of the earthworks of the bailey of Biggar Castle.

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Biggar BC started in 1848 but the original location was inadequate and it moved to a new site in 1874, where the club remains today.

A keen supporter was John Murray of Heavyside who founded the Albion motor car and lorry business. At an early meeting of the club, it was decided to cut the grass once a week and roll it three times. Another momentous decision was taken to admit female members but the ladies had to wait until 1911 to have their first event!

The club was very popular and soon had a nice clubhouse, built in 1881; over the years a number of improvements were also made. One group to benefit from these improved facilities were groups of wounded soldiers and sailors in 1917.

After World War One the club was able to get ownership of the green and the club house was rebuilt in 1923. One of the most interesting visits was from a group of Australian bowlers on July 23,1930; all the stops were pulled out to impress the visitors.

The club was well supported by not only the local gentry but by those who lived at some distance from Biggar; the Hozier family, for example, enabled the purchase of the South Lanarkshire Bowling Cup for which there was plenty of competition.

This was one of many competitions that the Biggar bowlers were to take part in.

Today Biggar Bowling Club is a very active club with members competing both nationally and internationally. This clearly shows the important position it retains – almost 200 years after it was founded.