Although Truro City Bowling Club celebrated its centenary in 2013, the game has been played for centuries in Truro. The earliest indication we have comes from a 1680 map on which is named ‘The Bowling Green’. Richard Polwhele, the Cornish historian, (1760-1838) notes that ‘The Green’ had also been used as a play area for the boys of the Grammar School. It was certainly a green for bowls in the 1780s. Polwhele records that one evening he won two shillings on Truro Bowling Green when Henry Rosewarne, M.P., Vice-Warden of the Stannaries, was one of the players.
How long bowls continued on the Green is uncertain – it is now the city’s bus park – but it wasn’t until 1913 that the formation of a bowling club was proposed at a meeting on 10 April presided over by the Mayor (Mr. W.G. Goodfellow). It was reported that ‘the ground formerly occupied by the Kenwyn Tennis Club was available on a yearly tenancy and that the Pavilion and fittings could be acquired for £30. The ground would admit twelve rinks each 18ft. wide.’ An entry fee of 5s.0d. with membership of 10s.6d. was proposed with 53 members already signed up. Edward Nicholl, who was subsequently knighted and elected as a Conservative M.P. for Truro in 1919, offered a 20 guinea cup for competition between West Cornwall clubs from Truro to Penzance. In the first year these included Falmouth and Helston all of whom were founder members of the Cornwall County Bowling Association.
The Green was formally opened on Friday 9 May by the Mayor (W.G. Goodfellow), who had also been elected president of the club, by throwing the first jack that had been inscribed on a silver tablet. It was given to him a souvenir and now takes pride of place in the current clubhouse. At the opening, the Mayor said they had an ideal spot for the club and over 70 members. He was a great believer in outdoor exercise: ‘it was possible for a man to work too hard,’ but he believed that ‘everyone should have a reasonable amount of recreation in order to be properly fitted for the duties of life.’ He thought that all could look on the club as a distinct asset.
The premises have changed over the years. In 1937 the Club obtained the freehold of the premises in exchange for part of the car park for a private house. In 1939 the green was extended, the entrance from Kenwyn Road widened, and the pavilion, inherited from the tennis club, moved back. Their wooden pavilion remained in use until 1992 when the Club, with the aid of interest-free loans from its members, built a new clubhouse, further extending it with a grant from the Sports Council in 1996 to provide improved changing rooms for ladies and men, a kitchen and bar. In 2014, with grants from Sports England and Sita Cornwall Trust a further extension was built with extra changing rooms and improved toilets for men and women.
In 1937 ladies were admitted as associate members and in 1994 were voted in by the men as full members. The Mayor of Truro who is the Club’s Patron, continues the custom initiated by WG Goodfellow each April by bowling the first wood of the season.
Over the years the Club has won several honours. Most recently our past chairman, Tony Collins, was elected President of the Cornwall County Bowling Association, making us the only club in the county to have provided as many as six presidents.
During the summer we are privileged to host a number of County matches as well as touring sides who like to include Truro in their itinerary, providing an opportunity for wives and non-players to visit the shops and Cathedral. In the 'closed' season the clubhouse is used for social events and the increasingly popular short mat bowling.
A copy of the history of the club published around 1980 can be found by clicking here