The Castle Green Bowls Club, who play in the shadow of Guildford’s Castle, celebrates 100 years since the formation of their club in 1923.  Now a vibrant club with a cupboard full of trophies and a full social calendar, the club started from humble beginnings.

There is evidence of a bowling green on the site from as early as 1739 but it wasn’t until 1885 that the area including the Castle and grounds were purchased by the Borough Council.  Under the guidance of Borough Surveyor Henry Peake, work began the following year in creating the ‘Pleasure Grounds’. On 28 June 1888, Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee Coronation Day, the Castle Grounds were formally declared open by His Worship the Mayor, William Swayne, and dedicated to the public for ever.

At that time the bowling green was known as the Mayor’s Lawn and was not used again until 1907. The purchase of the Castle and Bowling Green was commemorated on a brass plate which is still in place to the right of the entrance to the Castle Keep.

The official Castle Green Bowling Club was formed in 1923, although early records have been lost in time, it is known that no clubhouse existed until the 1970s when an old air raid shelter provided by the Council was adapted for the club’s use.

At the Club’s inception 40 people were interested in joining and in 1945 there were 61 members. By the early 1960s the number had dropped to below 12. At this time the Club was saved from extinction only through the generosity of an anonymous lady donor.  In 1969 when ladies could first join, the suggestion was made that they could try for a membership of 24 men and 6 ladies.

Eventually officially recognised by Surrey Bowls Association, after much fundraising, work began on extending the clubhouse in 2000.  This has been put to good use since, and the Bowling Green and Castle Green Bowls Club have played an intrinsic part in large town events from Son et Lumiere in 2004 to the annual Remembrance Service and Picnic in the Castle Grounds organised by Guildford in Bloom.

The Club has supported local charities over the years, and in turn been supported by local businesses including Chapters Financial Limited, The Keep Pub and Alliotts.

Current President Jonathan Readings is looking forward to a year of celebrations and said: “I am very proud to be leading Castle Green Bowls Club in its Centenary year. This is  a club with very distinguished history in the heart of Guildford and we will be proudly celebrating our centenary throughout the summer with a variety of events both bowls related and social.”

Social Secretary Shirley West has been part of the club for several year said: “Playing 36 years at Castle Green Bowls is a testament of such a happy friendly club it is. We may not have a bar or lots of car parking available but people really care about each other.

You would have to go a long way to find a more friendly or welcoming club, and this is definitely the secret of Castle Green plus we are a competitive club”.

Club member Vivien Smith, with help from Shirley West has produced a commemorative book with information covering the Club’s history from the very beginning to the present day.

The Castle Green Bowls Club can be found next to the March Hare in Castle Street and more information can be found on their website by searching Castle Green Bowling Club on Google, including how to join.