Bristol Arrow Bowling Club
Bristol Arrow Bowling Club
It was during the 1860s that cricket began to be organised on a County basis. Dr H. M. Grace of Downend, the doyen of the West Gloucestershire Cricket Club and father of WG, EM and GF Grace got together a county team and played against Surrey on the Downs in 1870.
One of his keen supporters was J. W. Arrowsmith, whom it is recorded had a tent on the Downs in which he installed a printing press and printed score cards which were sold to thousands of spectators. Thus WG and JW became friends.
JW was one of those responsible for purchasing the County Cricket ground in 1888. WG, who had many friends in Scotland where bowls was well established, advised JW and the Head Groundsman John Spry to create a bowling green in the corner of the Cricket ground. In 1894 the Arrow Bowling and Quoits Club was formed.
It is known that WG played on the Arrow green but not as a member of the club which was restricted to employees of Arrowsmiths. In 1901, as there was no EBA at that time, he applied on behalf of the London County Bowling Club for membership of the Scottish Bowling Association. Later that year he entertained an SBA team of 2 rinks skipping one of the home rinks himself.
The Scots so enjoyed their reception that they presented WG with a pair of silver mounted bowls which he greatly prized. These are still in the possession of his grand daughter Mrs M. Day who lives in Devon. Bristol Arrow Bowling Club are indebted to Mrs Day for loaning these to us for the duration of our Centenary year where they were on display for all to see.
In 1903 W. G. Grace was a founder member and first President of the English Bowling Association.
On the 25th June that year our club played the EBA home and away. The Arrow team consisted of an Arrow rink, a Victoria (W-
In 1980, the 75th anniversary of the Gloucestershire Bowling Association, a plaque to his memory was erected in Downend Church.
William Gilbert Grace and James Williams Arrowsmith
James Williams Arrowsmith was born in Worcester on Nov 6th 1839 and came to Bristol with his father Isaac at the age of 14. He entered his father’s printing business and eventually became head of one of Bristol’s largest printing firms.
The best known of his publications were Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome in 1889 and the sequel Three Men on the Bummel. Towards the end of the nineteenth century Arrowsmith was the largest supplier to railway bookstalls in Britain.
JW was interested in many sports but in particular he was adept at rifle shooting. He served with the 1st Gloucestershire/City of Bristol/Rifle Corps from 1859 to 1881. The National Rifle Association (founded 1860) records show that the Albert Jewel was won in 1888 by Quartertmaster Arrowsmith of 2nd Gloucester Engineers.
He was the President of the Bristol Rugby Football Club for 3 seasons. Together with E. G. Clarke he was joint secretary and co-
JW was instrumental in the creation of Bristol University. A memorial tower was built in 1910 to JW and a plaque (see opposite) was displayed in the entrance hall.
Not having enough to do, JW was also Hon. Secretary and Treasurer of the Mary Carpenter Memorial Boys Home, Chairman of Bristol Liberal Club and Secretary of the campaign to erect Cabot Tower.
In 1894, as well as founding our club, he was involved in the unveiling of a memorial to John and Sebastian Cabot under St Augustine’s Bridge and on August 20th he became a Justice of the Peace.
Because of all these commitments he only played in one bowls match against Weston Victoria. In 1902 the West of England and South Wales Coronation Bowling League was formed. JW was of course President. The clubs involved were Arrow, Pontypool, MacKintosh and Victoria. In 1906 the Welsh clubs withdrew and the West of England League was founded again with JW as President.
J. W. Arrowsmith was a most remarkable man to whom many people should be exceedingly grateful.