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Early years of Northampton West End B.C.

The club was formed in 1897.

The West End Bowls Club name originated from the club starting in the St. James area of Northampton, the first location for the club was at Melbourne Garden in St. James. In the 1800’s and early 1900’s the St James area of Northampton was commonly known and referred to as the West End of Northampton, (like the area West End of London). So, we think that was the reason for the name.

The club first play bowls on Melbourne Gardens, this area of grass was next to the Melbourne Tavern on the Weedon Road, Melbourne Gardens was located where the Beacon Bingo is today, a large area of gardens with enough room to play the game of bowls. This area was renamed by John Franklin who built the Franklin’s Hotel, and he renamed the Melbourne Gardens to Frankin’s Garden in the early 1900’s

West End moved to their new bowling green by the side of the rugby pitch sometime in the late 1920’s as the Ordnance surveys map of 1901 does not show a bowling green by the side of the rugby pitch, but by 1924 a bowling green does appear on the Ordnance Survey map.

On 5th May 1933 the new pavilion was opened by the Presidents wife Mrs Ralph Smith, we believe that a large part of that pavilion was transported the our present location in Mendip Road, Duston, Northampton.

Mr Ralph Smith was the mayor of Northampton in 1929.

The bowling green was also uplifted and move to Mendip Road, but we believe that some of this was stolen by local residents, the club only had a 2/3 of the green left to lay, so they had to sow the rest.

The first mention of the club in the local papers was in September 1900 when they played 10 players from Wolverton Park club at the (Melbourne Gardens) Franklin’s Gardens, with Wolverton winning by 158 – 85. In November 1900, when Wolverton Park Quoit & Bowls Club invited three members of the club to their Presentation Dinner, they were Messrs. Mr Wills, Mr Taylor & Mr Armstrong.
It was reported that the Secretary of the Wolverton Club proposed a toast to all that attended and the three members from West End B.C. were most cordially welcome, Mr Wills from the West End B.C. acknowledged the welcome, and said they hoped to meet Wolverton Club many times.
On the last Saturday in 1901 the West End Bowls Club journeyed to Wolverton Park Quoit & Bowls Club to play a match, the home team winning the match by 8 points. On Saturday afternoon the return match was played at Franklin’s Garden’s and notwithstanding the recent heavy rain the green was in good order, and the play was again very close. Singular to state, the home side on this occasion beat their opponents by 8 points, the respective scores being 86 – 78. The Northampton team was captained by Mr Astley Cooper and the Wolverton team by Mr M. Billingham. At the close of the game the visitors were entertained at an excellent dinner set out in the large upper room of the new pavilion.
The West End team was as follows: – Mr Goodwin, Mr P. Drakeford, Mr F. Hancock, Mr Crow, Mr A. Cooper, Mr R. Whitton, Mr J. Taylor, Mr F.W. Lodge, Mr J.M. Panting, Mr J.E. Hannen, Mr Elliott, Mr G.J. Fisher, Mr Ward, Mr F.A. Robinson, Mr R. Wainwright and Mr S.C. Arthurs.
Mr W.F.Tipler a non-playing President, this was his first game, following a toast to him by both clubs and after they sung he’s a jolly good fellow, in his response he thanked all for the manner in which they had drunk his health, and said although that was the first time he had been amongst them, now that he had visited them ho hoped to see them oftener and that he might become a playing member (applause).
In May 1902 West End played Northampton & County Bowling & Tennis Club (now Kingsthorpe B.C.)
This was the first match between these teams and played at Franklin’s Garden’s the result was a win for the Kingsthorpe club by 18 points 77 – 59.
The scores was as follows:- F. Meyer Sen 21 – Lodge 15
Kimbell 14 – Whitton 21
F. Meyer jun 21 – Goodwin 18
Soutar 21 – Crow 5