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Exeter bowling club set to celebrate Centenary

Published: 2 July 2021

Exeter bowling club set to celebrate Centenary St Thomas Bowling Club

One of Exeter’s oldest bowling clubs is hoping members past and present will help celebrate its centenary later this month.

St Thomas Bowling Club was founded in 1921. One hundred years later, the club that is based in Cowick Barton Playing Fields is still going strong.

To mark the occasion, the Club has organised a celebration event at its home in St Thomas on 24 July and is hoping to see a few familiar faces as well as new blood keen to take up the sport.

The Club will be opening up the City-Council owned and maintained green for their big day and are hoping to welcome the Lord Mayor and local councillors for a tea and chat, along with David Tucker, Chairman of Bowls England, and past and present members.

The idea to form a club was first floated in 1914 but because of the First World War and the need to find a bowling green in the city, the Club didn’t get going until 1921, when it found a patch of land at Cowick Barton Playing Fields that would become its home for the next 100 years.

Over the years the Club grew and flourished. In 1933 it was reported in the Club minutes that the St Thomas green was regarded as one of the best surfaces in the whole of Devon!

Secretary Janet Goldsworthy is the Club’s longest standing female member, now in her 36th year. Her husband Colin has been at the Club since 1983! She said: “We were young when we joined! Colin is President of the Club for this special year.”

Janet added: “When we first joined there were far more ladies than we have now. The dress code was much stricter with blazers and ties and with the ladies, hats to be worn on arrival at matches.

“These days it is a lot more relaxed and we are always keen to attract new members. We welcome all ages but find it difficult to recruit younger people as the general public in many areas still regard it as an older persons’ sport.

“The Club has always been a friendly, welcoming club and I have met some wonderful people, with some memorable characters! I feel very lucky that I have been able to spend time with them and listen to their personal stories,” she said, “Our eldest member is Tom Canham. He is 97 years old and still a very keen and active bowler.”

Cllr Duncan Wood, Lead Councillor for Leisure & Physical Activity, praised the Club for reaching their milestone. “One hundred years is a wonderful achievement. It is great a have clubs like St Thomas on your doorstep, not only fostering community spirit but also keeping local people active and healthy in body and mind. May the Club continue to thrive and flourish for the next one hundred years.”

The Club would love to hear from any past members that would like to attend on the day and is keen to welcome new members as well. Please contact Janet Goldsworthy at for more details

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