Prior to 1903 bowls played in the Portsmouth area was based on the Old English game

In 1903 the English Bowling Association was established, and the present EBA rules for bowls were published. Encouraged by the EBA, the first Bowling Association in the Portsmouth and Gosport area was founded on 9th February 1903, and named Hampshire Bowling Association. Eight clubs were involved in its foundation - Alverstoke, Carisbrooke, North End, Portsmouth, Queens, Saxe-Weimar (now known as Southsea Waverley), Southsea, and Victoria Bowling Clubs.

Most players in the early days were either Aldermen, Councillors, businessmen and `well to do people`, and the game was played in a more leisurely manner with much emphasis on the social side of the sport.

In 1920 the present Hampshire County Bowling Association (HCBA) was formed and in 1925 the original Hampshire Bowling Association was renamed Portsmouth & District Bowling Association.

County Rink Champions 1951

Bowls remained a male dominated sport, and although ladies were active participants in the early days it was not until 1932 that divisions were set up between the sexes, and Hampshire County Womens Bowling Association was founded. The County Competitions were well supported by the ladies, particularly from Cosham Womens Bowling Club, who enjoyed a geat deal of success in individual competitions and club events, such as the Thornbery Trophy. Many went on to play in the Walker Cup, Johns Trophy, and represent England - most notably Mrs. Sawyer (Canoe Lake - now closed) who was an international player for eleven years.

A few single sex clubs remain but the majority of clubs are now mixed. Upon unification of the sport in 2011 the HCBA was renamed Bowls Hampshire.

As the popularity of ladies bowls grew the ladies determined they should enjoy the same opportunities to play in local competitions as the men. Five lady representatives from Canoe Lake, Cosham, Gosport, Southsea Castle, and Pembroke Gardens Bowling Clubs met on 20th November 1952 and laid down the foundations of the Portsmouth & District Womens Bowling Association (P&D WBA). The design of the Association`s blazer badge and flag incorporates Nelson`s Flagship, H.M.S. Victory.

Copy of the entry in the 1953 County Year Book

Blazer Badge

Flag of the Portsmouth & District Womens Bowling Association

To establish a financial footing Committee members were asked to donate 10/- (ten shillings) each for having the honour of serving on the founding Committee, realising a total of 7.0s.0d. Further funds were raised through the receipt of club affiliation fees, donations, hosting touring teams, sale of badges etc., and combined Whist Drives. By the end of the first year the Association`s bank account had a healthy balance of 31.8s.7d!

Cups and trophies for the winners and runners up of the leagues and competitions have been presented by successive P&D WBA Presidents. At the first luncheon and prizegiving on 16th November 1953 just two trophies were awarded to the league winners and Singles Champion. Today, trophies and cups are presented to the winners and runners up of five leagues and ten competitions.

Mrs. Gwendoline Wing

Mrs. Gwendoline Wing was the first President of the Association in 1953, when the then Lord Mayor of Portsmouth presented a shield for the Portsmouth & District League Winners. Mrs. Wing served as P&D WBA President again in 1958. She was a member of Cosham Womens Bowling Club for 48 years, served twice as President of the Hampshire County Womens Bowling Association and 17 years as the County Secretary. The rotation of the P&D WBA Presidency is established by all affiliated clubs - in alphabetical order - nominating a member of their club as Vice-President to take up the Presidency the following year.

Coronation Shield

Twenty two clubs are currently affiliated to the Association and actively participate in league matches, friendly games with other districts and knockout competitions.

In 2002 the P&D WBA celebrated their match against the English Womens Club. The England team consisted of the Portsmouth side contained all the the Association, and representatives of P&D WBA President Brenda Harrison President and a commemorative plate Association. Mrs. Harrison in turn Morley with a picture of H.M.S.

EWBA President Brenda Morley

golden jubilee with a commemorative Bowling Association at Gosport Bowling players from all over the country while current officers, eight past Presidents of most of the clubs within the district. received a banner from the EWBA
from the Hampshire County Womens presented EWBA President Brenda Victory.

The P&D WBA runs two leagues - the main league comprising of four divisions in which teams of eight players play two rinks of four for 21 ends. The competitiveness of league play gives players the confidence to enter more serious County, National and International competitions at which a number of P&D WBA members have been successful.

A Single Rink (Triples) League is run to enable Clubs with a limited number of ladies to play competitive bowls. The team comprises of three ladies playing triples on one rink for 18 ends, which is ideal for new bowlers to experience competitive bowls without the pressure of the main league.

P&D WBA Mascot

Each year a number of friendly matches are arranged with clubs in other districts/counties, played at home and away, which are well supported by ladies in the P&D WBA. With Rosemary - the Association`s mascot - taking pride of place, the ladies travel together by coach to the away matches and are always warmly welcomed with a cup of tea. In the past these occasions were very formal when ladies were required to carry brown handbags to match their brown shoes, wear a regulation hat with the P&D WBA royal blue and gold colours on its hatband, and be equipped with white gloves in order to shake the hand of the host President.

There were many instances when gloves were passed back through the open windows of the coach to those who did not have them, to ensure they were `properly dressed` when meeting the President! It is fortunate that this particular formality has been dropped over the years as coaches no longer have opening windows to facilitate the gloveless player.

Equally important was the rule that skin tone stockings should be worn and only removed if the temperature exceeded 82f (28c). Over time the dress formality has been considerably relaxed and lady bowlers are now allowed to wear regulation trousers, cut-off trousers and shorts. Club shirts have also been introduced, so the obligatory hat, gloves and stockings have become a thing of the past.

The P&D WBA organise knockout competitions throughout the season for both individual players and club teams, the semi-finals and finals of which take place in September on the green of the P&D WBA President`s club.

Display of trophies at the
P&D WBA Luncheon - 2013

The most important date in the P&D WBA calendar is the luncheon when the winners and runners up of the leagues and competitions receive their trophies. It is attended by the Lady President of the Bowls Hampshire Bowling Association and well over a hundred ladies enjoy one last opportunity to meet up with each other as the bowling season comes to an end.

`C` & `D` League Winners - 2013

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