Pontyfelin Bowls Club

Club History

In 1959, Mr David Pilkington, along with the Production Manager, Bill Robinson and Personnel Manager, Mr Ken Protheroe, decided to provide some recreational facilities for the workers at Pilkington’s Glass Works in Pontypool.

At the time, workers paid 2 pence per week to join the recreation section.

The Works then purchased the garden allotments opposite the Gas Works to provide the facilities planned but then provided another allotment site further down for those gardeners.

The Works new Manager, Mr Roberson, a Canadian, oversaw the provision of the new facilities and Mr Wyndham Morris, the Assistant Security Officer, who had an agricultural background, was asked to supervise the project.

Along with a team of 12 Irish workmen and lots of hard work a Football field, Cricket pitch and Tennis courts were created along with changing rooms and a kitchen area.

At the time of construction a team of bricklayers led by Frank Clark came down from St Helens, to reline the furnaces at the factory. They were all crown green bowlers and asked if there was a green locally that they could bowl on.

Wyndham Morris took them to Panteg Park Bowls Club at Sebastopol and arranged a game for them. Later it was suggested that it would be good to have a bowling green at Pilkington’s for the workers to use. Wyndham then measured the green at Panteg and it soon became apparent that there was just enough room to construct a bowling green at Pilkington’s with the other facilities.

The idea was then taken to the Management Board who agreed to provide the funds for the new venture.

En-Tout-Cas from Leicester who was the leaders in Bowling Green construction was then approached to provide the facility and a meeting was held at the site.

In 1960 the work proceeded and at the time the contractors were also working at Croesyceiliog and Chepstow on their greens at the same time.

The original facility was completed in 1961 and comprised of a bowling green surrounded by a privet hedge and an entry gate. A wooden Clubhouse pavilion was constructed, just inside the gate off the main road and the football and cricket teams also shared these facilities and the changing rooms.

Opening of Bowls Club in 1961 Opening of Bowls Club in 1961

The bowling green was opened in 1961 by Mr Roberson and Mr Sam Heaton.

The inaugural match between Monmouthshire and Cambridgeshire Bowls Team who was touring in the area was arranged and unfortunately this finished early due too torrential rain on the day after only a few ends were bowled.

The International Bowler Mr Jack Probert was also present on the day and after joining the company agreed to coach all new players to help bring them along until they were ready to join the team and then continued to nurture them into top class players.

As the years passed the players and the green improved and it was no surprise that before long county championship matches were being played at the Club.

In 1963 Wyndham Morris sought agreement to extend the bowling area by approximately 25feet, so that a new pavilion could be erected just for the bowling section. The hedge was extended to enclose the new pavilion and the gate moved to enable the whole area to be secured. This enabled the bowling section to be totally self-contained.

In 1985 Martin Roynon the works personel manager acquired a cabin that was being used as a lecture room for use at the bowls club.

Ray Day, Jim Carr, Bob Price, Malcolm Trinder, Mike Banks and others created a concrete plinth and drainage for the new unit and it was transported from the works on a low loader and lifted onto the site with a crane.

The steps for the new unit were built by Bob Price and Malcolm Trinder and the inside partitions to create toilets and a kitchen area were built by Ray Day, Bob Price and Ray Charles.

Ray Day then installed the new toilets and the original kitchen was installed by Bob Price and Ray Day.

The original furniture and trestle tables were provided from the New P.I.L.C.S Club house that was opened in 1976 by Mr Harry Pilkington.

Before the installation of the new unit the bowls team would stop for refreshments half way through a match and this was supplied by Mrs Tremlett and a friend at the old clubhouse near the entrance gate.

The new welcome sign was built by bricklayer Cyril Wiltshire and Bob Price who acted as his labourer.

The maintenance equipment was stored in the garage outside the facility and the original groundsman Johnny Grimes was employed by the works and was responsible for the bowls green and the other sports facilities.

In 2000 a few members travelled to Neath and purchased another unit to be used as a men’s changing room. The concrete pad and other facilities were installed by members.

This was transported to the site and lifted into place and was originally used as the visitors changing room for many years and this was changed to the mens changing room and visitors then changed in the old wooden pavilion from 2014.

Last Modified on: 05-12-2018