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The History of The Sport

Tentative evidence exists of the ancient Egyptians playing a form of Bowls before 5000 b.c. when the object of the game was to 'hit' a target.

However, the only solid evidence of the game dates back to the 13th Century in that the Southampton Bowls Club has what is reputed to be the oldest bowling green in the world, founded in 1299. The Chesterfield Bowling Club claims that their green dates from 1294.

The first official record of the game describes Bowls as "A game of delicate skill, the object being to get bowls as close as possible to the target." (We presume 'firing' was not considered to be appropriate action in those days)

In the early 14th Century, King Edward III decided to ban the playing of bowls by his bowmen as he feared that their skills were becoming eroded through lack of archery practice as they were too occupied playing bowls.

The sports popularity in the 16th Century was such that it is mentioned in no less than three of the plays of William Shakespeare - "Richard III", "Loves Labours Lost", and "The Taming of the Shrew". "The Taming of the Shrew" even includes a reference to bowls being played by the Ladies of that era.

The most famous recorded historical event must be that of Sir Francis Drake who, on 15th July 1588, was reputedly playing bowls on Plymouth Hoe and refused to leave for battle until the game was finished.

The first 'official' rules of the game were written by the Scottish Bowls Association.

W.G.Grace, the English cricketer, helped form the English Bowls Association, and was their first President (1903-1905). He also helped organise the first International game between Scotland and England.

Today a favoured leisure pursuit of people the world over, bowls has taken its place as one of the most popular sports of all time and DRAKES PRIDE was proud to be a sponsor at the 1998 Commonwealth Games in Malaysia. Future inclusion of the sport in the Olympic Games is a distinct possibility.

The game is now played in over 35 countries - United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Thailand, India, Japan, Spain, Israel, South Africa, U.S.A. and Holland - to name just a few.

Lignum Vitae is the traditional timber used for bowls. It comes from the Caribbean with Santa Domingo as the source of the best quality.

DRAKES PRIDE still uses this heavy dense timber but, since the late 1970's, the majority of bowls have been made of a composition material.

In 1982 DRAKES PRIDE became the first company to produce Bowls on computer numerically controlled lathes, thus starting the new era of very accurately produced bowls. This, together with our attention to detail and strict quality control, has helped make the DRAKES PRIDE bowls "The Bowlers Choice Worldwide".

Developments in the game

With the progress being made in plastics, it is perhaps surprising that Phenolic Thermoset is still the main material used. Polyester and Melamine are being used to enable the manufacture of coloured bowls. In 1998 the WBB sanctioned the use of coloured bowls (see latest range of colours available).

DRAKES PRIDE are licensed manufacturers to the various governing bodies (Lawn Green and Crown Green) and are committed to helping promote the sport through all levels from the 'grass roots' amateur to the professional game.