Tuesday 28 Jun 2022

History - 1970-Present

1970's - 1999

Unfortunately historical records such as minutes of meetings and club record books have been lost or mislaid over the years and information from within the club prior to the early 1970’s is therefore scant. However personal knowledge of some of the clubs development and success from members of long standing has helped to fill the gaps, and to those members we are grateful.

1978 was a very active year for the club and as can be seen from the following magazine and newspaper extracts the club was riding high.

In 1978 the Durham County EBA finals were held at the West End and the following is an extract from a bowls magazine of the day;

‘Durham County President, really making his mark in the Northern Counties, went out of his way to play host at the well appointed Stockton West End Bowling Club. John Palmer – Mr West End – had prepared the green with expert care. Ken Hiles, club president (himself a Durham County player), had his committee in full harness before, during and after the ties, to make the occasion a real gala. Many players and senior administrators thought the whole evening to be a record breaker. This was the first time in the club’s history for the finals. The guest list included Mal Hughes (Captain of England). Almost 400 people helped create a wonderful atmosphere on and off the green. The amenities are amongst the best in the Northern Counties and president Leo (Blackwell) deserves full marks for the special feast of entertainment. The meal was superb – thanks ladies.’

A newspaper report of 27th July 1978 by reporter Stan Patterson states;

‘Venues for county finals are always a bone of contention to the competitors and remain a controversial point throughout each season.

Having attended most finals since 1944, I have always found this to be so, despite the fact that the President of Durham County in his presidential year of office has the prerogative of staging these games, if in his opinion, the green is up to the required standard.

While Stockton West End has had its problems over the years as to the condition of the green, the President of Durham, Leo Blackwell, incidentally supported by his executive, can feel well satisfied.

I would go a stage further and say that in my book, it has been one of the best venues for many a day, not only green-wise, but in producing all the facilities needed for an occasion of this kind – seating capacity well taken care of, plus the necessary hospitality which is always the culmination of the evening’s bowling, proved beyond any doubt by the capacity following of the bowlers who attended’.

A further newspaper report of 1978 by Ken Craggill refers to an invitation singles match;

‘West End Bowling Club held an invitation singles and rinks bowls exhibition on Saturday when three internationals and a county player from Scotland opposed four internationals from England. Scotland came out on top in the singles winning 3–1 but the locals came good in the fours carding a 24–17 win.

The games were organised by Mr. Leo Blackwell, immediate past president of Durham C.B.A. and assistance was given by Mr. Ken Hiles, president and Don Stubbs, secretary’.

One of the main worries in the bowling calendar is the weather, over which of course we have no control. The West End has had its fair share of flooding over the years due to the rapid rise of the adjacent beck following heavy rain.

Whilst the years of 1998 and 2000 may not have been the worst for rain and flooding in the history of the club, they do however illustrate the problems faced when heavy rain is experienced and when the beck overflows.

2000 onwards

During 2002 the herringbone formation drains under the green were located together with the drainage pipe leading to the beck. The pipe into the beck was cleared out and exposed to provide a better outlet flow. The Green Committee volunteers ‘Vic Laycock, Dave Ridge & Bob Stephenson’ undertook this work. Unfortunately the inhabitants of a wasp nest did not take to kindly to Vic disturbing them whilst he was wading in the beck resulting in numerous stings about body and head.

In 2003 as part of Westends 100th aniversary a new pavillion was errected to replace the infamous green hut.

In 2010 Deryk Hunter won all 6 of the individual bowling titles he was eligible for and the following year 2011 he followed this feat up with winning the inaugural Durham County 4 bowl competition picking a 4 up on the last end to come from behind to win; both exceptional achievements. This year also saw the change in the club's constituition to allow ladies to be signed into  the club at any time.  

Covid 19 in 2020-21 had a major impact on the club with the club at times struggling for volunteers thankfully we have come through the period now stronger than ever especially in the green keeping area where we have now a strong squad of volunteer.

In 2021 saw one of the biggest changes in the clubs history with anyone over the age of 18 now permitted to join the club