Development of the club

The first historical reference to the game of Bowls in Cardigan dates back to 1713. The Mayor and the Council decided to make a bowling green at Cardigan Castle and for this purpose ordered turf to be taken from the common. There is no subsequent reference to this Bowling Green and no knowledge of the people who played there.

On the 30th June 1921, a new Liberal Club was opened at Pontycleifion by David Davies, Solicitor. Four years later in December 1925 the Directors of the Liberal Club signed to lay a first class bowling green. A quote from the Tivyside dated 21st May 1926 stated "The Cardigan Bowls Green was opened on Monday". In a one of the many speeches on opening day, the secretary, Alderman Dan Williams made a clear statement of intent when he announced to all present: "The Bowling Club is a democratic body. There is no snobbery and no swank. The working man will be on a level with his employer and all will be treated alike. If any man comes here and refuses to associate with one in the strata below him then he should keep away. He is not wanted." There were 80 members at this time.

From August 1930 to 1939 very few records remain. The green was not used much after the war years and in 1948 Cardiganshire Education Committee took over the Liberal Club and Bowling Green. The Liberal Club became a dining hall for St. Mary's Secondary Modern School, and the green was covered with tarmac and used as a school playground.

The present Bowling Green came into being as a result of the determination of Cllr. Albert Hallam, the Mayor. There had already been an attempt by a small group of people to get the project going but no real progress had been made. Cllr. Hallam was responsible for calling a public meeting at the Guildhall on 4th May, 1962. Work began in November 1964 and the green was completed five months later. At the Annual general meeting that year it was once again made clear that the future of the Club lay in the hands of its members and supporters. There was a target of 70 members for the following season and already 63 had joined.

The Mayor of Cardigan, Cllr. W.A. Jenkins, officially opened the present green on Wednesday May 4th, 1966. The Club did not apply to join the Cardigan County Bowling Association at that time because it was felt that they should first acquire a suitable pavilion with facilities for changing and providing hospitality. This pavilion was erected in early June, 1967 and the first committee meeting was held in this new building in August of that year. At a meeting held on the 4th October, it was decided that the club should apply to join the Cardiganshire County Bowling Association the following season.

Following the initial period of enthusiastic support for the Club, there was a slight down turn in fortunes and the numbers dwindled to a point at which it was difficult to raise a team for league matches - ladies also played in the Cardiganshire League at this time.

1976 was a difficult year for the Club this was the year of the long hot summer and without rain for many weeks the green began to suffer badly. There was a country wide hosepipe ban which did not apply to bowling greens because they were capital investments that were at risk of being lost. The green closed in the middle of August.

By the early eighties, the Club began to investigate the possibility of building a larger Clubhouse to include a bar and some form of short mat bowling. Plans were prepared, but a lack of funds and legal difficulties regarding the leasing of extra land prevented further progress. Smaller affordable projects were undertaken.

In 1982 the Committee received £1000 from Georges' Brewery in Haverfordwest to purchase chairs and tables for the pavilion in order to provide a bar. At the same time two accommodation units which had previously been used by workmen building the Texaco Oil Refinery in Pembroke, were obtained free of charge from Dyfed County Council. One of these units was used as a Pool Room/Changing room, while the other was used as a kitchen. The pavilion roof was refelted and a verandah was also added at the front of the pavilion. In 1983 a sprinkler system was installed for the green.

By the eighties, the number of ladies playing had increased considerably and in November 1983 they were successful in their application to join the West Wales Ladies Bowling Association. The club by now had a very strong playing base and even the men were beginning to make their mark in County Bowling. Following a number of near misses, the Club had its first county champion is 1984, when Roy Jones became County Singles Champion. The Club continued to flourish and in 1987, a second team called Aberteifi was entered in the 2nd division of the league.

The club was now bursting at the seams with 160 playing members and about an equal number of social members. There was a clear need for a new and larger clubhouse and at a Special General Meeting held on January 20th 1986, there was unanimous support for such a project. The lease for the land required was obtained from the Town Council and Mr. Llwyd Edwards drew up the plans. The foundation was laid in February 1988 and the official opening was in July of that year.

The new clubhouse and the green became the envy of other clubs and was soon a regular venue for County matches and other representative matches. In 1990 the Club hosted the Welsh Counties Final in which West Glamorgan overcame Mid Glamorgan in a very tight match. In 1991 the club was chosen to host an international match between Wales and New Zealand. This was just one of a series of games between Wales and New Zealand during one week in June. The game ended in a draw with both teams winning two games.

In 1994 the ladies withdrew from the West Wales Ladies League and joined a newly formed ladies' league in the old county of Cardiganshire - Cymdeithas Bowlio Merched Ceredigion (CBMC). In 1992 the men matched this when the Cardigan team, under the Captaincy of Jack Crofts, were joint champions of the Cardiganshire League, finishing equal on points and shots difference with Aberystwyth. In this same year Aberteifi won the second division championship and were promoted to the first division.

1993 saw the men, under the captaincy of Lawrence Makin, going one better by winning the championship outright for the very first time. It was another thirteen years before Cardigan next lifted the County club championships but this signalled a glorious era for the club in both team and individual events.

The Cardigan side won the county championship four times on the trot between 2006-2007, the first two under the team captaincy of Kevin James and the second two under the captaincy of Andrew Clarke. The Cardi's were pipped by arch rivals Aberystwyth in 2010, but Andrew Clarke led them to another championship success in 2011 and Mike Newcombe was at the helm when Cardigan lifted the famous shield for the sixth time in seven years.

In 1990 the ladies achieved their first success when a club rink of Brenda Jones, Clarice Boulter, Chris Welson and Clare Mitchell became County Champions. By now many others have also become county champions. The men have also succeeded in winning county titles on many occasions, but the most memorable must have been in 1994 when a club rink consisting of Les Culley, Terry Thomas, John Goodwin, Richard Bowen, not only won the County championship, but went on to win the Welsh Final. This success proved to be the inspiration for others to follow and there were some notable success over the next twenty years culminating in Kevin James winning the British Isles Singles Championships in 2007 following his triumph at Llandrindod Wells in the Welsh Championships. Kevin also tasted success in the County under 18s singles in 1998 and 1998 and was an eight times winner in the under 25s. In between this Huw Clarke lifted the same title in 2004 when he beat club mate James; others to win this have been Mathew Davies, Marc James, Philip Parsons and Michael Newcombe who is the most recent holder. Michael went on to win the Welsh under 25s in 2010. The trio of Michael, Mathew and Marc have all won the under 18s singles county championships.

Michael won the inaugural under 16s two wood County singles in 2006 and Marc James did the same the following two years and Tomos Bolton kept the flag flying for Cardigan when he lifted the title in 2011. In the open pairs, Carwyn Jones and Kevin James won the county title in 1999 and others followed suit with William Morris and Terry Thomas winning in 2005, Howard Devonald and Gareth Lloyd in 2007 and Colin James and his brother Kevin successful in 2008.

The triples silverware has also found its way to the Cardigan trophy cabinet a number of times since the initial success of messrs William Morris, John Lewis and John Goodwin in 1991 with Paul Monders, Kevin James and Carwyn Jones successful in 2002 and 2008.

>In the rinks competition, Colin James, Kevin James, Paul Monders and Carwyn Jones lifted the title in 2006 and 2007 and, in 2008, skip Andrew Clarke steered the teenage pairing of Marc James and Michael Newcombe and experienced campaigner Emyr Davies to victory. In 2010, Colin James, Howard Devonald, Paul Monders and Carwyn Jones were successful once again.

In 2010 Paul Monders became the fifth Cardigan player to secure the open singles title following in the footsteps of Roy Jones (1984), Gareth Lloyd (1989) Richard Bowen (1992) Kevin James (2006) and Dilwyn Jones added another Cardigan name to the trophy when he won in 2012.

1992 saw the first club member being selected to play for Wales when Gillian James was selected to play for the Wales Under 25s Ladies Team. She was also selected in the 1993, 1995, 1996 and 1997 seasons. In later years, Louise James and Hanna Clarke were capped at junior and full international level and both continue to represent Wales. They are also former Welsh Junior Pairs winners.