Port Elizabeth of Yore: The P.E. Bowling Club

The Port Elizabeth Bowling Club, the oldest Bowling Club in South Africa, was founded on the 14th August 1882 and is located on the St George’s Park grounds. The blog is based almost solely on the St George’s Park website and the book The Social Chronical of Port Elizabeth to the end of 1949 by Margaret Harradine.

Main picture: St George’s Park in 1900. The Club House of the PE Bowling Club

Founded in 1882, the P.E. Bowling Club was the first official Bowling Club in South Africa. The Club’s founding was held at a meeting in the home of Joseph Swallow together with seven other men. They were John Horton, Thomas Blair, Benjamin Sutcliffe, whom Joseph Sutcliffe was in partnership with in a cabinet making company, Ebenezer Webster, James Lucas, William Gillman and David Crabb.

The first Green, appropriately named “Founder’s Green” was opened on the 5th January 1884 by Alfred C. Wylde. This lawn, or “green,” as they are known by the bowling fraternity, was built at a cost of £48-10s.

Alfred Carrington Wylde
Founders Green

In August 1898 the Rt. Hon. Cecil John Rhodes turned the first sods, to have another green at the club, and having it named after him known as Rhodes Green.

Cecil Rhodes with members of the Port Elizabeth Bowling Green Club on December 24, 1896, shortly after turning the first sod of the new green.

Today the Club boasts 4 Bowling Greens namely Founders, Rhodes, Loch and Prince of Wales which was completed in 1926 to coincided with a visit by the Prince of Wales to South Africa in 1925.

The second green was opened on September 3, 1887, by Admiral Sir Walter Hunt-Grubbe of HMS Raleigh while the first sod of the third green, “Rhodes’ Green” was turned by Cecil Rhodes on December 24, 1896 and the fourth green, “Prince of Wales,” was completed in 1926.

The first South African Inter-Colonial contest took place from April 11 till 18, 1894 between Port Elizabeth and Kimberley. On October 21, 1932, a ladies’ section was formed.

Members of the Port Elizabeth Bowling Green Club enjoy a game of bowls, circa 1930#01

The Club still boasts the original trophies and memorabilia of the bowls matches being played through the century and these can be admired in the club house and bar.

1982 Centenary Year PE Bowling Club Committee.

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