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A BRIEF HISTORYOF LAWN BOWLS: (excerpt from Fred Fern)

19th July 1588, Plymouth Bowling Green, Captain Thomas Flemming rushes onto the green to advise Sir Francis Drake that the Spanish Armada had been sighted off the lizard. His response has gone down in history, “There is plenty of time to win the game and thrash the Spaniards too.” However it was much earlier, in fact in 1299 that the Southampton Bowls Club green was reputed to have been laid. Chesterfield Bowling Club claims that their rink was laid in 1294 and, certainly in the early part of the 14th Century (1315-1330), Edward III banned the playing of bowls so that, “The Bowmen of England, would practice their archery.” In fact it seems that bowls was not always the gentle art we now know. In its early years, in fact, the game was prohibited with very severe penalties, levied by Magistrates, for those who broke the prohibition.

There is no real evidence as to the style of the game, though during the reign of Richard II, it was called “gettre de pere” which translates in Norman French to “throwing a stone”. There is not much doubts that the original bowls were made of stone, probably the roundest possible one, without bias. Sometime after 1409, bowls of wood appeared, mainly made of Boxwood, Holly, Yew and Oak.

According to annecdotal evidence, the introduction of bias to the design of bowls seems to have been by accident. It is said that in 1522, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, whose bowl split in two, rushed into his house, and took the spherical knob from the bannister post on his staircase, to replace his damaged bowl. The flat cut on the knob caused it to roll with a bias and allowed the Duke to curve his bowl around others. He passed this knowledge onto his friends and over time biased bowls came into being.

Later bias was produced by placing lead or metal weights in the bowls, this practice has long been ceased, and is now against the rules. Bias is given to bowls entirely as a result of the shape of the bowl.

Prior to 1871, the bias of a bowl was not stipulated, tested or in fact the same from bowl to bowl. In 1871 Taylors of Glasgow constructed the first “testing table.” The idea was to allow the company to produced matched bowls from the factory, rather than wait for customers vague descriptions of their requirements.

Taylors went on to create a scale for bias, 1 (weakest) through 5 (strongest). In 1893 the Scottish bowls association made 3 their standard. Finally in 1928 the International Bowls Board laid down the standards and specifications which with a few ammendments are still the standards today.

THE GAME TODAY:

The object of the game of bowls is to roll your bowls closer to the Jack (white ball) than your opposition. A set of bowls consists of four bowls. Lawn bowls is traditionally played on a green 40 m X 31 m. The green is divided into spaces called ‘rinks’, in which you play. On average there are 7 rinks on each green. (7 games can be played on the one green at a time)

Firstly the ‘Jack’ is rolled up the green by one of the players. Once the Jack has come to rest at the other end of the green, each player consecutively takes turns in trying to roll their bowls as close as possible to the jack. Once all the bowls have been bowled, the player/team with the closest bowl to the Jack scores however many they have inside their opponents closest bowl. This is called an ‘end’. Once you have given the score for that ‘end’, the Jack is rolled back the other way and another end is then played.

A game can consist of 10 to 35 ends, or can be played to a predetermined score. The games can be played as singles, pairs, triples and fours.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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