Thursday 13 Jun 2024





It all started at Ropner Park when it opened its first bowling green in 1893. By early 1895 Ropner Park Bowling Club was established, and in the same year Cleveland and South Durham Bowls league was founded. With the growth in popularity and increase in bowling members Stockton Council laid a second green at Ropner Park in 1902. The new second green being opened on the 4th of June 1903 by Sir Robert Ropner M.P.

The Northern Echo newspaper report on the Ropner Park Bowling Club Annual General Meeting of 1903 stated;



There was a large gathering of bowlers at Tate’s Café, Stockton, last night when the annual meeting took place of the Ropner Park Club.

The report of the Secretary, Mr C. Jackson, expressed regret that the club had fallen from the premier to the lowest position on the local league table.

The new green had unfortunately turned out to be a lamentable failure. The Corporation had asked the contractor to inspect it, and it was hoped the defects would be remedied.

The financial report showed a balance in hand of £2-5s-7d. Mr J.J. Peacock was re-elected president and Mr C. Jackson Hon. Sec.

The President presented the following prizes won during the past season:- Club medal and championship MR A.E. Richardson; second prize Mr W. Cunningham; bowls competition Mr W. Smith; rink competition Messrs A. Hunton, J. Taylor, and E. Clennett.

It was stated during the course of the proceedings that some of the members had formed a new club in connection with the Ropner Park.

The members referred to had formed ‘West End Bowling Club’

The annual report to the Cleveland and South Durham Bowling league made on 17th February 1904 stated that Darlington North Road Park and Stockton West End Bowling Clubs had applied for admission to the league.

The latter were opposed by the Stockton Ropner Park Club, on the ground there was only one green fit to play League matches on at the park, which the new club proposes to make its headquarters, and there was not room for the two. The Darlington Club was elected by 14 to 12, but subsequently it was agreed, upon the casting vote of the chairman in opposition to a resolution that they be admitted without any condition, that if, as anticipated, the Stockton Recreation Club dropped out the West End Club should be admitted upon finding a green other than the Ropner Park.

At the councils Cemetery and Parks committee meeting of 22nd February 1904 it was stated that Stockton West End Bowling Club had applied for 4 rinks reserved for them one night per week. The minutes read; “Stockton West End Bowling Club – Resolved – That the application of the Secretary of this club to be allowed to have four rinks on the New Green reserved for them one night per week be acceded to.”

It therefore followed that competitive bowling by the West End Bowling Club commenced in the summer of 1904 at Ropner Park.



The Cleveland & South Durham League at this time played ‘English Bowling Federation’ rules not ‘English Bowling Association’ rules. The Durham and Yorkshire Bowling Association formed in 1922 and opposed EBA rules up to 1927.

The West End Bowling Club Championship cup ‘The Nicholson Cup’ was originally named ‘The Challenge Cup’ and was presented to the club by the club’s first President George Nicholson in 1904. The first winner of the cup in 1904 was A. F. Jennings. With it being unusual for a club champion competition to be a two wood competition, we can only surmise that in the early days it was played for under EBF rules.

Newspaper reports in July 1906 still showed West End playing at Ropner Park.

At the Cleveland & South Durham League Annual General Meeting of 1919, which was held at the Royal Oak, Stockton, Stockton Munitions Workers and Burn Valley were admitted to the league. It was also agreed that matches were to begin week ending 24th May 1919. West End A being in Section A and West End B in Section B. This being the first time that West End had two teams in the same league, albeit in different sections.

Thursday 16th August 1923 :- Cleveland & South Durham Bowls League. Table of results for the championship show West End (Stockton) Section ‘A’ in top position with 18 points.

No bowls were played between 1915 and 1918, during the dark days of the Great War.

The Cleveland & South Durham League minute book shows that the following league management positions were held by West End members;

President 1911 T. A. Griffiths, West End
President 1926 J. W. Willey, West End
President 1927 J. W. Willey, West End
President 1936 R. Martin, West End.
West End won the league in 1912, 1913 & 1914.

In 1993 a historic pair of bowls inlaid with silver and dated 1907 were passed on to the club. They are marked with the name ‘T. A. Griffiths’, who was president of the club in 1912 and 1913. The woods had been sold to a bowler by the name of Jimmy Crawford, of South Road, Norton, several years earlier, Jimmy had them stored in his loft. The woods were passed into the custody of the West End Bowling Club in April 1993 by Jimmy and officially handed over by ex Mayor of Stockton Councillor Stephen Smailes to Geoff Roberts who was President Elect that year. The woods are mounted and on display within the Club.