Jordanhill Bowling Club

Formation and early years

Like many bowling clubs originating at the end of the nineteenth century, Jordanhill Bowling Club had a very humble beginning. It was founded by men who were courageous, venturesome and prepared to take reasonable risks but also believed fervently in cutting their coat according to their cloth.

The Club was founded in 1899 and this excerpt from the local “Govan Press” of 11th May 1900 makes reference to the Club and its members "The improved green of Jordanhill Bowling Club - the youngest in the Partick District, will be opened on Saturday. It is expected that there will be a large, brilliant gathering from villadom. Members are invited to bring their Lady friends". Outstanding among the founders was Mr Peter McKissock, the first President of the club and a builder in the district. He feued the adjoining land, built terraced houses in Randolph Road, and conceived the idea of constructing a bowling green for the benefit of feuars and others.

He was fortunate in associating with a number of able, practical visionaries who formed themselves into the Jordanhill Bowling Club Limited. This Company was incorporated under the Companies Act and the shareholders provided the funds for the construction of the green and the building of a small bowl-house on an elevated part of the ground. This original layout can be seen in the photograph below taken in 1902.

Purchase of the ground

In 1903 Jordanhill Bowling Club Limited, purchased for £500 from James Wilson Gordon Oswald, heritable proprietor of Scotstoun Estates, the plot or area of 3,740 square yards on which the bowling green and bowl-house were constructed. It was a courageous act on the part of the Company and those early founders, whose enthusiasm, self-sacrifice and enterprise deserve praise and admiration today.

The Club and the Company

In the early days most, but not all, members of the Club were shareholders of the Company. Their holdings varied in amount. All members paid little more than £1 per annum for green maintenance and running the affairs of the Club.

It was not unusual in those days to have this dual arrangement of shareholders and non-shareholders, as some members were reluctant or unable to provide the funds necessary for construction and development.

The Club rented the ground and premises from the Company at £40 per annum and by 1906, the membership had increased to 90. The annual subscription at this time was 25/- with the cost of running the club being £173.

The dual control of Club and Company had its shortcomings and this became evident when further capital expenditure was required.

The Company disolved

A new clubhouse was becoming an urgent necessity, as the old bowl-house was quite inadequate for the members. Moreover, the condition and position of the green, cut out from rising ground caused misgivings for its future extension. No definite decision was made when, at a Special General Meeting of the Club held on 1st October 1906, it was recommended by a subcommittee of Directors that a new clubhouse should be built and that the green should be made 40 yards square.

This recommendation, however, was the beginning of protracted negotiations between the Club and the Company, but little progress was made during the next two years. In the autumn of 1908, a Special Committee of the Club reported that suitable ground was available on very favourable terms, at Woodend, if the Club cared to acquire it and relocate. This brought the matter to a head, and at a final joint meeting of the two bodies, it was agreed that the Company be liquidated, that the holdings of the shareholders be converted into debentures or, if desired, cash payments and that the property and assets be transferred to the Club.

On 13th November 1908, at a General Meeting of the Club this resolution was agreed to, but a strong minority opposed it.

About 30 members of the Club resigned at the end of the financial year and many of these members formed the Woodend Bowling and Lawn Tennis Club on the ground offered to the Special Committee.

The Clubhouse

As sole owners of the property, the members now threw themselves into raising funds for the erection of a clubhouse worthy of the Club and for the redemption of the debentures.

This new clubhouse at green level, costing £560, was opened in May 1909. It was largely paid for from a bazaar held in March 1910 when £347 was raised. This relocated facility can be seen in the photographs below taken in 1949 and c1958.

It was not, however, until March 1928 that the debenture holders were ultimately paid out. At an Extraordinary General Meeting of the members, it was agreed that the Club borrow from the British Linen Bank the sum of £300 for the purpose of reducing the existing first mortgage debentures issued by the Club, and that the heritable property of the Club be conveyed to the said Bank in security of their loan. This loan was eventually repaid.

In the years before the clubhouse was licensed, more than just a few members longed for the opportunity to share a refreshment with partners and opponents after a contest on the Green. It was not possible to do this locally since Jordanhill was a "dry area".

A hostelry in Partick was, therefore, the nearest place for such hospitality; and since the tramway system was still operating, a tram ride to Partick was necessary for those with a thirst to slake.

Fortunately the nearest tram stop in Crow Road was only a few yards from the entrance to the Green; and all concerned knew that the last suitable tramcar to pass there would be at 9.40 pm, in comfortable time to reach Dumbarton Road before the doors closed.

At their monthly meetings the Directors also kept a close watch on the passage of time. It was said of one President that when the Agenda was appearing too long for the time available, he would announce "Gentlemen, we've had a very satisfactory meeting, and since I know that you are all keen to get home in time for the Nine O'clock News, we will close now". There is no record of there ever having been an objection to this suggestion.

This unsatisfactory situation for the Directors was remedied by the next significant development in the Club’s history, the acquisition of a licence to sell exciseable liquor. In 1974 a committee was appointed to consider the provision of bar facilities. The first difficulty to be overcome was a restriction in the title deeds to the effect that “no exciseable liquor be sold or a bar built on the premises”. The superiors agreed to waive this clause and proposals for the installation of a bar were formalised and subsequently approved at a Special General Meeting of Club members. The bar, known at that time as the “snug”, was officially opened in 1975 and has proved to be a welcome addition to the Club’s facilities.

A further comprehensive improvement to the clubhouse took place in 1980 when at a Special General Meeting it was agreed that two locker rooms be built, one at either end of the existing clubhouse facilitating the provision of a main hall, the kitchen and toilet facilities be upgraded and a proper bar facility be provided.

The cost of £13,000 was raised from loans and donations from members, fund raising activities, and a loan from the Sports Council. Community Industry, a body of young men undergoing work experience, carried out these alterations under professional guidance. A photograph of the improved facility taken in 1981 can be seen below. Over the next five years all the loans were repaid.

The clubhouse is on occasions used by members, friends and local residents for private functions.

The Green

The green, when first constructed, was shaped like the letter "L" lying on its back, with four rather narrow rinks running north - south on the western side and three rinks running east - west on the southern side.

By 1902 the green had been extended to an oblong 41 yards x 34 yards.

In 1906 a recommendation to square the green at 40 yards was made but it took until the Annual General Meeting in 1945 for the members to approve a scheme submitted by the Directors to extend the playing surface and authorise a standing committee to raise the necessary funds. Although this committee, with the ready response and help of the members, raised over £800 the project was not completed until 1953 when the green was finally “squared”. In the absence of Club records prior to 1938, the reasons for the delay are not known but the occurrence of two World Wars, the economic hardships of the 1930’s and the post war difficulties were probably contributory factors.

It is interesting to note that as a result of increased running costs, the annual subscription in 1949 had risen to £3-10/-.

In the latter part of the century the two major items of expense were the raising of the edges and installation of new ditches in 1985 (cost £4,725) and seven years later in 1992 the installation of an automatic sprinkler system (cost £5,874).

Until the mid 1960’s the care and upkeep of the green was in the hands of a paid greenkeeper. Subsequently specialist contractors have carried out this work and from time to time consultants have been brought in for expert advice. The green is regularly used to host competitions organised by the various bowling associations.

Inter-club games and external competitions

Since its institution, Jordanhill Bowling Club has cultivated a friendly rivalry with neighbouring clubs. The first game was arranged with Partick, the mother club of the district, founded in 1844. In the "Govan Press" of 22nd June 1900 appears this excerpt "The Partick bowlers have added an extra match for the 9th August when Jordanhill are due as visitors”. Broomhill followed in 1903 and Whiteinch about the same time. Victoria Park was added in 1905, followed by Scotstounhill, Partickhill and Hyndland in 1906, Woodend in 1909 and Barclay Curle in 1922. In later years a number of other clubs have been added to our fixture list.

In addition to the above friendly fixtures the club participates in a number of district and national competitions. Successes over the years include Ballantyne Bowl, Bennie Cup, Brown Lindsay Bowl, Caird Cup, Clark Atkinson Shield, Coronation Cup, GBA Pairs, Glasgow Cup (twice), Kissach Trophy, Roy Jenkins Trophy, Stevenson Cup , West District League and Young Cup. On various occasions the Club has also reached the final stages of both GBA and SBA competitions. The Club continues to participate in Glasgow v Lanarkshire and Kelvin Allander League but in recent years has withdrawn from Glasgow v Ayrshire and West District League.

Ladies Section

From the outset, the Club granted permission to the Ladies, on special occasions, to play on the green. As far back as May 1906, a mixed game is recorded and special prizes were offered to the winning rink.

It was not, however, until 1923 that the Ladies Section was formed from the wives and near relatives of the members with permission to play one afternoon per week.

Some years later, a second afternoon was granted and Wednesdays and Fridays became the recognised afternoons, provided the green was not required for special games.

Mixed games were played on all public holidays and twice monthly on Saturday evenings throughout the season.

In 1934 the West of Scotland Women’s Bowling Association came into existence and in 1936 the Scottish Women’s Bowling Association was formed. Jordanhill Ladies joined these associations in the first year of their existence and this enabled them to extend their field of bowling activities. They took part in all competitions connected with these Associations and contributed generously to their charities.

A special honour came to the Club in 1939, when Mrs Margaret Ross, a member of the Ladies Section was elected President of the SWBA and held the position for eight years. During her first year in office, the Scottish Finals were played on Jordanhill Green and teas were provided for 500 people.

Mrs Evie MacFarlane, Mrs Betty MacGregor, Mrs Margaret McLeod, and Mrs Margaret Ross all played at International level. Mrs Margaret Miller was also selected but due to illness was unable to play. The Ladies have won SWBA Triples, GWBA Singles and GWBA Pairs.

A further honour came to the Club in 1992 when a former Lady President, Mrs Myra Fergus, was appointed President of the GWBA and the Club hosted their finals that year.

Over a number of years the Ladies playing time on the green had been considerably extended and at the Annual General Meeting in 1995 the Constitution was amended to give the Ladies full voting rights.

Although in earlier years the Ladies were not required to pay subscriptions they were untiring in their service and generous in their donations to the Club. Despite the introduction of Ladies subscriptions in 1966 they continue to contribute in this fashion.

Club Competitions and Trophies

Members compete annually for the following trophies :

Gents Trophies Donor Date
Championship Cup (Original) Mr C Mundy 1902
Championship Cup (Current) Mr P Scott 1964
President’s Cup Mr A McLennan 1953
Vice-President's Cup Unknown 1921
The Aggregate Cup Mrs M Caldwell 1976
Seniors Cup Mr and Mrs R Corbett 1979
Balloted Triples Cup Mr I Sutherland 1982
Nominated Pairs Cup Mr G Thaw 1985
Nominated Fours Quaich Mr and Mrs J McDermott 1991
Nominated Triples Cup Mr and Mrs S Doherty 1992
E V McCann Cup Mr E V McCann 1999
In 1968, Mr Jim Caldwell achieved the unique distinction of winning the Club Championship, President’s Cup and Vice-President's Cup. To commemorate this remarkable event he was awarded a special trophy by the Club.
Ladies Trophies Donor Date
Championship Cup Mr J Burton 1931
Championship Rosebowl Mr J B Cowan 1943
Championship Quaich The Smeaton Family 1996
Margaret MacKenzie Cup Mr W MacKenzie 1969
Vice-President's Cup Mrs I Thomson 1995
Balloted Pairs Cup Mr B Learmonth 1980
Nominated Pairs Salver Mrs M Houston 1981
Aggregate Cup Mrs E MacFarlane 1984
In 1943, the Championship Cup was gifted to Mrs Margaret MacKenzie who had been a frequent winner and in 1996 the Championship Rosebowl was gifted to Mrs Olive Gillies who had won it on eight occasions.
Mixed Trophies Donor Date
Mixed Pairs Cup Mr and Mrs B Learmonth 1995
Bob Tait Triples Cup Mrs Mgt and Mr Gavin Tait 1987
Centenary Cup The Miller Family 1999
Two Bowl Mixed Pairs Shield Belhaven Brewers 1999

In addition to the aforementioned internal Club Competitions various other clubs compete annually in a number of invitation competitions.

Competition Donor Date
Duff Trophy (Retired Senior Gents) Baillie J R Duff 1946
Gents Triples Cup The Club 1987
Mixed Triples Cup Ashbourne Homes 1991
Ladies Triples Plate Mrs M Campbell 1997
Top Nine Rosebowl Mr and Mrs McDermott 1991


In order to encourage new members to participate in club competitions and matches as soon as possible, coaching classes, in accordance with SBA recommendations, are held at the start of each season.

Social Activities

According to its Constitution, one of the objects of the Club is “to provide facilities for members to engage in social activities”.

The only recorded social activities prior to the Second World War were weekly whist drives organised by the Ladies Section on Wednesday afternoons during the winter months.

Later on, there were many well supported evening events but in recent years interest has waned.

On the games side, darts, bridge, carpet bowls, pool and games nights have all come and gone and only the whist drives organised by both the Ladies (still on Wednesday afternoons) and the Gents have survived. On the entertainment side, musical evenings, Burns’ Suppers, Scottish evenings and quiz nights have all met with varying degrees of success but nowadays a dance or cabaret once a month is the main offering.

The decline in support for social activities in general has resulted in a considerable reduction in the Club’s annual income and helps to explain why the annual subscription in the Centenary Year is £80.


Although at present the Club is in a reasonable position financially, it must be remembered that for very many years it existed on a hand to mouth basis. Nevertheless, the Club, mainly thanks to the Ladies Section, has always been active in raising funds for a variety of charities.

During the two World Wars, The Red Cross and the War Relief Fund benefited from special fund raising events. In more recent times Cancer Research, The Thistle Foundation, The War Blinded, Erskine Hospital, Broomlea School and The Western Infirmary Renal Unit have been the main beneficiaries.

Last - But Not Least

Throughout this narrative, very few names have been mentioned. Since Mr Peter McKissock set the ball rolling in 1899, Jordanhill Bowling Club has been very fortunate in always having, as generation succeeded generation, a small group of men and women who have been prepared to devote time and talent to maintain and improve the clubhouse, furnishings, green, and surrounds and to ensure the smooth running of the Club in general.

Present members of Jordanhill Bowling Club are deeply indebted to all those people who have contributed so much to the well-being of the Club. It is to be hoped that future generations will uphold this fine tradition.


The Centenary Committee wish to place on record their grateful thanks to Mr Dan Campbell for his in-depth research which produced the bulk of the information from which the above brief history of Jordanhill Bowling Club was compiled.

Centenary Year

In preparation for Centenary Year, a number of major projects were completed - installation of artificial banks, complete refurbishment of the bar, recovering of seats, upgrading of the ceiling and lighting system and overall decoration.

The total cost was approximately £20,000 and it was met by levies from the Gents Section, donations from the Ladies Section and the Ladies Work Party, individual donations and loans from members (both ladies and gents) - these loans to be repaid over a period of five years commencing not later than November 2001.

A special commerorative badge was struck to mark the occasion and this is shown below.

Centenary Year started with a BANG!

On Opening Day, Saturday, 10th April, President Grant Thomson had just introduced the guests on the green, Lady President Myra Fergus had just raised the Centenary Flag when BANG! - the Heavens opened. The principal guests three local city councillors and the local MP’s representative - all decided not to speak, and there was a mad rush for the clubhouse.

Due to lack of space in the clubhouse, there were no speeches at that time and those not due to play were served afternoon tea. The standard Opening Day match - President v Vice-President - was organised and, ironically, as players made their way to the green, the rain stopped, the sun shone and a good time was had by all. Following the game, short speeches were made by Councillor Dr Christopher Mason and Mr Ian Gavin, the GBA District Representative.

Ladies Opening Day was on Wednesday, 14th April - it proved to be a very enjoyable day.

On Saturday, 17th April there was a special Centenary Match - Ladies v Gents in which no less than 71 players participated - some as second half substitutes. The afternoon was rounded off with wine and a very special birthday cake. In the evening, members and friends attended a very successful Buffet Dance.

Throughout the season, all matches were played at home and the Club hosted special invitation matches against the various associations and leagues to which it belongs. The Club received many anniversary gifts from the visitors and they are proudly displayed within the clubhouse. The Club’s catering and hospitality were enjoyed by all.

During Centenary Year the Club added to its list of successes in external competitions by winning the GBA Invitation Fours and the Duff Trophy.

The playing season had opened with a BANG! It also closed with a BANG! On Presentation Day, the season’s prizes were presented by the Lady President and the President’s Lady. For the record, the first winner of the Centenary Cup was Mr Tom McWhirr. The usual match - Secretary v Treasurer - was played. In the evening, members and friends were enjoying the Presentation Dance when BANG! - the band’s sophisticated equipment blew a fuse and that was the end of that. The recently purchased music system came into its own. An excellent day, notwithstanding.

In recognition of the Centenary, Glasgow City Council invited the Club to a Civic Dinner. On 15th October just over two hundred members and friends attended this function which was held in The Banqueting Hall of The City Chambers. They were honoured to have as their host The Right Honourable The Lord Provost of The City of Glasgow Alex Mosson who was accompanied by The Lady Provost Mrs Maureen Mosson. A memorable evening was enjoyed by all.

The year ended on a high note with the announcement in the New Year’s Honours List that Honorary President, Dr Jack Brown was to be awarded a Knighthood “for services to shipbuilding”.