A meeting took place on 21 March 1914 with representatives from 15 clubs attending. They formed the men’s Somerset County Bowling Association.
By 1936 there were 75 clubs, but the County lost virtually a third of those as the English Bowling Association (EBA) ruled that all clubs north of the River Avon should be part of Gloucestershire. However, numbers steadily grew and by 2010 there were 73 affiliated men’s clubs.
In 1928 the ladies of the Ashcombe and Clarence Park clubs in Weston Super Mare, together with two other clubs, created the Somerset County Ladies Bowling Association. Steady progress ensued and by 2010 a total of 68 clubs were affiliated.
2010 was a significant year as the two Associations ‘unified’ and the Somerset Bowls Association came into being. We currently have 76 affiliated clubs across Somerset.
Somerset men have provided five EBA Presidents, the last of which was Norman Thomson who also became President of the British Isles Bowls Council and later of the World Bowls Board. Dorothy Ellis OBE was President of the International Women’s Bowling Board in 1977 and the first lady Chairman of the English Sports Council. Nancy Colling MBE was President of the English Women’s Bowling Association (EWBA) in 1976 and Secretary from 1980 to 2002. The men have provided many Internationals, with David Bryant CBE being the most famous. Over a 31-year career he won three World singles championships, four Commonwealth Games championships and many other titles. The ladies also have an impressive list of Internationals at both Senior and Junior level.
Both Edna Bessell MBE and Pip Branfield have been active as Bowls England selectors and managers, and have attended Commonwealth Games in that capacity. Edna is the current West Region Women’s Selector. Mo Monkton is the Women’s Senior Team Manager and Disability Bowls England’s High Performace Director.
Somerset is a tourist ‘hot spot’. We are not just about cheese and scrumpy (but many tourists have learnt to enjoy these fine traditions), we are about fantastic scenery, world heritage sites, coastal and inland bases and ‘arguably’ the best hospitality you could ever wish for!
For more information go to: https://somersetbowls.org.uk/