A Brief History of LMBC from notes provided by club archivist Peter Holland

BOWLS was being played in Beacon Park as early as 1911.

In the City Council minutes for August of that year it was reported that the chairman had granted permission to Mr Thomas Howell of Ivanhoe Road and others "to play bowls in the Museum Grounds".

Mr Howell wrote to thank the chairman for the privilege stating that "he and his friends had had 13 nights' bowling".

A large number of people had expressed a wish to play but "were prevented from doing so as they had not any bowls".

The council was "unable to incur any expense in the matter," Mr Howell was informed. The first mention of the Museum Bowling Club occurs in a report presented to the City Council by one of its sub-committees.

A letter had been received from "members of the Lichfield Museum Bowling Club thanking the committee for the use of its grounds". So the existence of the Museum Bowling Club in that year, 1913, is confirmed making 2013 its centenary year.

By 1924 the bowling green was in a poor condition and was relaid at the expense of the district council.

Colonel Swinfen-Broun declared the new green open and donated a trophy to be competed for annually between the Mayor of Lichfield's team and the Museum club.

This match is one of several traditional events which have survived to this day. Others include the ladies v gentlemen match, which is always keenly contested!

The club clearly prospered during the next few years with the result that the secretary, Mr FH Harrison, was able to report a healthy financial position to those attending the AGM in April 1927.

The balance in hand was £5 11s 9d, an increase of 5s 4d compared with 1925! Members' subscriptions totalled £9 10s 0d.

 Expenditure had been heavier during the year owing to the purchase of new woods costing £7.

The 1927 AGM, held at the King's Head Hotel, was chaired by the Vice-President, Mr J Cole, while others present included Mr G Lock (Captain) and Mr F Axten (Vice-Captain).

It was unanimously decided that The Mayor of Lichfield, Councillor F Garratt, should be invited to become President of the club.

In July 1931 the Mercury carried a report of the Swinfen-Broun Trophy match.

The "corporation was represented by Messrs GS Russell, HG Hall, AH Barnes, BT Sadler, H Jones, J Key, WA Wood, CH Averill, F Garratt, F Williams, RJ Nevill, WH Bowering, J Pinches, AE Harrison, GS Russell, and W Brocksom.

Representing the museum were Messrs W Pratt, B Clarke, T Studart, G Rea, A Clarke, F Durbridge, W Jarvis, F Axten, J Cole, J Pratt, T Taylor, L Hawkins, T Hudson, W Bridgewater, T Mason and R Osborne. The result was a victory for the Museum (112-65) and the Mayor, Alderman W.A. Wood, presented the trophy to the Museum Captain Mr. F. Axten. In 1936 it was reported that the Lichfield Corporation was to provide a pavilion for the benefit of the members of the Museum Bowling Club.

The announcement was made at the Annual Dinner of the club which was held at the Swan Hotel in November 1936.

It was stated that "the catering was excellently carried out by the host and hostess, Mr and Mrs Yates".

The Annual Dinner and Presentation Evening has been held at several different venues since 1936 but in recent years we have enjoyed excellent hospitality at the Terrace Restaurant in Brownhills.

During 1936 season the Museum Club played 11 matches of which six were won.

The winners of the club trophies were Mr R Whitewick and Mr C Matthews.

By the end of the 2013 season in September the club will have played some 84 matches (which include league matches and friendlies) and 16 club competitions, a measure of how the club has grown and prospered in the intervening years.

The oldest surviving club trophy, made of solid silver, is the Horace Wilson Challenge Cup which was presented for the first time in 1942 to a Mr F Axten.

Club members were clearly active during the war although their numbers would have been severely depleted.

It is surely significant that no Swinfen-Broun Trophy matches were played in the three post-war years, 1946, 1947 and 1948.

In August 1940, the curator reported that "some damage had been caused to the green by four youths riding bicycles".

And, in more recent years, on their old green which was unfenced, bowlers had to contend, not only with cyclists on the green, but also with picnickers, dog-walkers, footballers, cricketers and even visitors to Lichfield seeking a good vantage point for their picture of Captain Smith of the Titanic!

The most significant change in the club's long history occurred in 1953 when it was decided that a Ladies' Section would be formed and that on the afternoons of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday the green would be reserved for the ladies to practice.

The first woods of the 1953 season were bowled by Mrs J Sylvester, captain of the Ladies' Section, and Mr G Davies, captain of the Men's Section.

Some 60 years later, when the existence of men-only clubs is still a contentious issue, the admission to the club of ladies in 1953 has to be viewed as an enlightened and most welcome decision even if rather belated.

A hundred years after its foundation, the Museum Bowling Club is thriving. There has been a recent influx of new members and more are always welcome.

Members can enjoy mixed and ladies' friendly matches against local clubs, rather more competitive bowling in the Lichfield, Cannock and Over 50s leagues as well as social bowling and practice at virtually any time of the week in the season which runs from the beginning of April to the end of September.

The centenary was celebrated in 2013 on September 6, with the annual match between the President's team and the Captain's team, with members donning period dress.

A total of £300 was raised from members, which will be donated to the British Heart Foundation in memory of past president and club treasurer John Currier. The charity was chosen by his wife, Barbara.