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Risbygate BC is 100 Years in the Bowling Business

Suffolk club celebrate centenary

Risbygate Bowling Club began life in 1912. However, after researching the history of the club, it was discovered that there has been a bowling green there since at least 1795. (Editor’s note: Good job that the French didn’t win the Napoleonic War then, otherwise that may well have boulesed it up).


In 1912, Frederick and Ellen Drake took over the property and it became known as the Risbygate Temperance Commercial and Family Hotel. Messrs FG Pawsey and AA Philpot were prime movers towards the club’s inception. They felt that a privately situated green was much needed on the west side of Bury St Edmunds and that it would be a great idea to form a social organisation with other sports facilities.


Membership numbers were restricted to 50 and consisted mainly of local businessmen and commercial travellers who, in those early days, had no desire to interact with other clubs. It was not until 1920 that inter-club matches began to take place.

A report of what was probably the first in-house tournament, in July 1914, recorded that club member Mr GW Wilson, of Cornhill, presented a handsome challenge cup for a competition to be run.

During the 1918 annual general meeting, gold medals were presented to the present and former Wilson cup holders. It was at this meeting that the subscription fee was raised to 7s 6d.


The club had become affiliated to the Suffolk County Bowling Association by 1922 on the basis that as most members were commercial travellers they were more likely to be accepted on greens if affiliated, and by May 1930, the new five rink green and pavilion were opened by Mr H Bullen, President of the Suffolk County Bowls Association.

CAPTION 8: Members at the official opening of the five rink green in 1930.

In 1949, the club became a member of the English Bowls Association and another milestone was reached and passed when the ladies were given the go-ahead by the men to use the new green during the afternoons.


A large extension took place from 1971, enabling facilities that included two squash courts, the indoor bowling rinks, showers, changing facilities, boiler house, office and a bar. This development was completed in 1973 at a cost of £50,000, financed by members’ loans and various grants, and was opened by the then Minister for Sport, Eldon Griffiths, and the Mayor and Club President, Jerry Glasswell.

In recent years bridge and most recently boules sections have also been added to the club to give a total membership across the sections of around 800 people.

To celebrate the centenary, the ladies bowls section played against the men’s and the ladies had a good victory, 82-76.