G.Lipscombe referred in his book, “Journey into Wales” of a bowling green at the Warden in the 1790’s. Throughout the nineteenth century bowls had a wide following in the town and boasted not one but three greens, one on the Warden, one at the Radnorshire Arms and one at the rear of the Oxford Arms.
Physical evidence in the form of the remains of the old wooden notice board suggests that the club dates back to 1810. Legend suggests that it was the second oldest club in Wales. Research continues.
In the period immediately after the end of the Great War, bowling in Presteigne was very popular, and the book “A history of Presteigne”, advises the club, in its present format was founded in 1920. The club played on the green at the Radnorshire Arms up until 1927 and thereafter on the green at the Oxford Arms. It was decided to return to the Radnorshire Arms in 1933, the annual rent for the green at that time was 2 guineas.
In 1934 the club voted to accept lady members. The annual subscription then was 2/6 per year and the membership was 34 men and just three ladies. The following year the numbers of male members remained the same and the ladies numbers had increased to 7.
Up until 1935 the annual men’s singles competition, the Steiner Cup, was a handicapped event and the committee met to decide how the bowlers should be handicapped. That year 14 members were off “scratch” and the remainder “owed” shots, the best bowlers G Lewis H Bird and E W Restall owing 9 shots. The winner of the cup that year received the princely sum of 7/6 and the runner up 5/-.
The first recorded ladies club singles competition took place in 1935 and was won by Mrs W Powell who beat Miss V Millichamp. The prizes were 2/6 for the winner and 1/6 for the runner up.
The weather as we all know is often a problem to us bowlers, but spare a thought for the bowlers in 1935 that during July had to postpone 5 matches because of the adverse weather. Bromfield BC even notified Presteigne of a weather postponement by telegram.
Even when the weather improved there was still often a problem raising a team as on one notable occasion the match against Eardisland was cancelled “unable to get a team due to harvest”!!
Following a substantial increase in the rent of the green from 2 guineas to 4 guineas in 1936, the landlord of the Radnorshire Arms stated, that the increase would enable him to engage a man, “suitable for the purpose of keeping the green in a proper bowling condition”, after complaints from the members.
In 1952 the club received a blow when the owners of the Radnorshire Arms, Trust Houses, withdrew the use of the green. Fortunately, one of the clubs vice presidents, Captain S O Lewis, RN, who lived at Clatterbrune suggested a new green be prepared on the County School Sports Ground. Captain Lewis acquired the land and set the annual rent to the bowling club of £2 per annum.
In 1960 the school sports ground was being purchased by the County Education Authority and in order to protect their asset, the club approached Captain Lewis and asked him if he would sell the land to the club. He agreed and the club purchased the freehold for the sum of £50. To this day it remains the only club in the Mid Wales League who own the freehold of their green.
During the 60’s the club ran into financial difficulties and there were worries that the club would fold. It managed to survive, even if at times foreclosure was close, and the transition into the 80’s saw the club achieve its most successful period.
Since that time Presteigne Bowling Club have won the Mid Wales League title on 14 occasions and have been runners up a further 10 times. The club have qualified for the Caruthers Cup on numerous occasions and have come close to winning a couple of times being runners up twice and losing semi finalists. During this period the club acquired the nickname “The Tigers” and proudly display a tigers head on their club bowling shirts.
1982 saw Don Yates elected to the position of President of the club, which he held until he passed away in August 2008. Don was born and raised in Presteigne and had a long association with the club, with both his parents, May and Percy being members well over 70 years ago.
In 1984 the club had the opportunity to purchase some premises on the site of the old gas works, in Hereford Street, some 200 yards from the green. After refurbishment and refitting it eventually opened in September 1985. Today it is a successful social clubhouse where one can partake of a friendly beverage or two.
The Ladies section of the club was formed in 1992 and became affiliated to the Mid Wales Women's Bowling Association.
The first winner of the club ladies singles was Pat Phillips.