Esclusham Bowling Club

Origins and Statistics

The Oldest Bowling Green in Wrexham?

The first reference of there being a bowling green in Wrexham was detailed in “A History of the Town and Parish of Wrexham” by Alfred Neobard Palmer which was published in 1893. It stated that “On Pen y bryn next to the Red House were, and still are, the Bowling Green, and annexed to it the Bowling Green Inn. The first time that I find the Bowling Green mentioned on this site is in the year 1698”

It is not known whether the Bowling Green was “flat” or “crown”. The map below illustrates that the bowling green was still in existence in 1874 and the tankard was won in 1879 by Newton Fisk at the annual Penybryn Bowling Club Competiton. Many thanks go to Rhys Hopwood for the tankard photograph.

However, by 1899 it was replaced by a row of terraced houses known as Colemere Street.

There were also bowling greens in Wrexham in 1833 at the rear of The Fleece Inn, 22 Hope St, (where Thomas Cook Travel Agents are now situated) and The White Lion, Mount Street (both pubs now long gone!). Source 1833 Survey

Possible Early Influences?

Anecdotal evidence suggests that the influx of coal miners from the North and the Midlands and the Shrewsbury and Chester railway (which was completed in 1846) accentuated the interest and growth of Crown Green Bowling in the area. The coal miners and the railway would have connected the town with other areas of the country where the sport was already established.

Crown Green Bowling Clubs in Existence from 1913 Onwards

The information below was unearthed by the Gate Hangs High Bowling Club (formerly known as the Acton Bowling Club). An Acton Bowling Club minute book has been found which covered the period June 11th 1913 – February 26th 1925.

“In 1913 games were played against Gresford Bowling Club, Royal Oak Ponkey, Ruabon Constitutional and the Turf.” “During 1914 an invitation from the Royal Oak Ponkey (Ponciau) was received to join in the formation of Wrexham & District Bowling League. It was declined for that year.”

Further clubs mentioned were 1914 Johnstown 1916 Green Dragon 1917 Buckley, Ponciau Bowling Club 1920 Padeswood, Hawarden, Hoole 1921 Overton 1922 Wrexham, Grapes Moss 1923 Red Lion Club 1924 Liverpool, Malpas, Gyfelia, Moreton, Hoole, Llangollen, Mold, Rhosymedre.

Bowlers will find a splendid green at the Wynnstay Hotel, also in Wynnstay Park (James’ Lodge), a fine green, laid out by Sir Watkin for the use of the members of the Constitutional Club. There are also Crown Greens at The Bowling Green Inn at Rhosymedre and Cefn Co-operative. Source - Ruabon Guide 1925.

The Origins of Organised Crown Green Bowling in the Wrexham Area

Wrexham and District League

In 1924 the Wrexham and District League was formed. This consisted mainly of public houses with a bowling green attached. The League adopted the Cheshire County Bowling Rules and one or two of the greens were on the small side. None of the bowling greens of the founder members of this League exist today. Many are now public house car parks.

East Denbighshire Amateur Bowling League

In 1927 the East Denbighshire Amateur Bowling League was formed. The league consisted of clubs within the Wrexham Parliamentary Division and no professional players were allowed to compete. More is known of this League as Esclusham Bowling Club became part of it in 1933. The League was known as the East Denbighshire Amateur Bowling League from 1927 – 1974, the Wrexham Maelor Bowling League from 1975 – 1984 and as the Wrexham & District Bowling League from 1984 to the present day. The top division is now called the Wrexham Premier League.

It is clear from old newspaper articles that these two leagues co-existed together for many years and at some point may have merged or one became defunct?

Before the formation of the above leagues many of the teams played friendly matches against each other.

Lost crown bowling greens and teams that used to play in the various leagues in existence in Wrexham and the surrounding area

Greens in existence from 1913 onwards

         Ponciau - Royal Oak (1913)

         Turf - The Turf (1913)

         Ruabon - Constitutional Club (1913)

         Wrexham - Green Dragon (1916)

         Overton - (1921)

         Gyfelia - The Waggoner’s Inn (1924)

         Rhosymedre - The Bowling Green Inn (1924)

Original Wrexham & District League 1924 - ?

Bowling greens were in existence at the following public houses in 1924:-

Johnstown - Moreton Inn

Rhos - Coach and Horses

Broughton - Grapes Inn

Summerhill - White Lion

Caergwrle - Bridge Inn

Hope - White Lion

Llay -  Llay Main


The following teams also used to play in the above league in the 1930’s:-

Johnstown - Red Lion Inn

Gyfelia - The Waggoner’s InnNow somebody’s back garden!

Rossett Nag’s Head

Llay - Crown Inn

Coed Talon MWPlayed in the 1934/35 seasons but was it at the same green as now or was there a public house involved? “It was known as the ‘Black Diamond’ Club” - (Keith Bell)

Other long lost bowling greens include:

           Pen y Nant – Minera OAP Home

           The Red Lion – Marchwiel

           The Red Lion – Hope

           The Travellers – Hightown

           The Holly Bush – Cefn y Bedd

Clubs that used to play in the Wrexham League - Also known as East Denbighshire 1927 – 1974, Wrexham Maelor 1975 – 1983, Wrexham & District 1984 – onwards : -

New Broughton Founder members in 1927 – where did they play?

Cefn Co-op (1927 – 1949) – where did they play and was the Club reborn as Plaskynaston?

Acton (1931 – 1959) -Became the Gate Hangs High in 1960 (have they always played at the Gate?)

Broughton 1933 - Where did they play and is the green still in use today?

Broughton MW 1936 - Where did they play and is the green still in use today?

Wrexham Corporation (1938 – 1940) - Where did they play and is the green still in use today?

Rhostyllen 1942 - In league the same time as Esclusham (was this the old  Rhostyllen Legion which was situated  where the football pitch is now ,next to the Vicarage and did they use Esclusham’s green?)

Wrexham Co-op (1945 – 1947) - Where did they play and is the green still in use today?

Summerhill (1952 – 1970) - Played at White Lion Pub – Demolished in 1970

Black Park - (1967 – 1978/9?) - Where did they play and is the green still in use today?

Summerhill Social Club - (1971 -1974) – New green was badly laid. Hence early demise

Summerhill White Lion - (1971 - 1973) – New green was badly laid. Hence early demise

BICC - (1977 – 1995) – now an expanse of grass outside of the Social Club

Turf - (1929 - 1977) - Reformed as Gresford Colliery in 1978 – The Turf green is now a car park opposite the Turf Pub on Mold Road, Wrexham  

Rubery Owen - (1973 – 1978/79?) - “Was situated where Whitegate Industrial Estate is now - just off Queensway”. EJ (Feb 2011).

Allied Breweries - (1978 only) – Was this the old Wrexham Lager green and where did they play and is the green still in use today?

Wrexham Lager - (1979/80 – 2002) – “The green has now been replaced by housing. EJ (April 2020).

Queensway - (1986 – 1989) - What happened to this green?

Criftins - (1987 – 1996)

Corwen - (1990 – 2008)

Rossett - (1992 – 2000) - “Rossett played at the Nag’s Head. The green has now been replaced by housing. Rossett moved to Llay no.2 green”. EJ (April 2020).

Penycae - (1993 – 1998) – What happened to this green?

Overton - (1994 – 1999) – Is the green still at the same location?

Northop Hall - (1997 – 2005)

Ifton - (2006)

Rhos - (1937 – 2007) – Now renamed as Ponciau?

Wrexham Miners - (1927 - 2008) formerly Grosvenor – Now a mosque)

Chirk and District league 1933 - ?

Black Park – Where did they play, was it at the same location as the Black Park team who played in the Wrexham League in the 1960’s and 70’s, and is the green still in use today?

Bronygarth - Where did they play and is the green still in use today?

St Martins - Where did they play and is the green still in use today?

Weston Rhyn - Where did they play and is the green still in use today?

Llangollen – Played at the riverside green (do they still play at the same location?)

Concluding Thoughts

If anyone has any other Club’s to add to the above list or information on the Club’s featured and what happened to them and their bowling greens then please email me and I will update the site accordingly. Does anyone have any old photographs of the above lost crown bowling greens?

Additionally, have any clubs moved from their original greens to new venues? i.e. Coedpoeth were founder members of the East Denbighshire Amateur Bowling League back in 1927 but they have played at two different locations prior to where the green is today. “Coedpoeth had a bowling green in the area behind the library, between it and Tabor Hill. And when the Memorial Park was laid out after the Great War there were two bowling greens there, although I only remember one of them in my lifetime. I presume the other was were the tennis courts where situated more recently” (Geraint Jones)

Wrexham Bowling League Champions 1927 – 2019

(Also known as East Denbighshire 1927 - 1974 / Wrexham Maelor 1975 - 1983 / Wrexham & District 1984 - 2003 / Wrexham Premier 2004 onwards)

1927 Coedpoeth

1928 Parciau

1929 Parciau

1930 Coedpoeth

1931 Parciau

1932 Cefn Co-op

1933 Cefn Co-op

1934 Parciau

1935 Coedpoeth

1936 Coedpoeth

1937 Parciau

1938 Parciau

1939 Esclusham

1940 Esclusham

1941 Grosvenor

1942 Parciau

1943 Esclusham

1944 Grosvenor

1945 Grosvenor

1946 Esclusham

1947 Grosvenor

1948 Grosvenor

1949 Monsanto

1950 Grosvenor

1951 Esclusham

1952 Grosvenor

1953 Monsanto

1954 Rhos

1955 Monsanto

1956 Turf

1957 Grosvenor

1958 Turf

1959 Grosvenor

1960 Rhos

1961 Grosvenor

1962 Rhos

1963 Rhos

1964 Rhos

1965 Rhos

1966 Rhos

1967 Rhos

1968 Rhos

1969 Rhos

1970 Rhos

1971 Rhos

1972 Turf

1973 Turf

1974 Rhos

1975 Rhos

1976 Rhos

1977 Rhos

1978 Gres Colliery

1979 Monsanto

1980 Rhos

1981 Gres Colliery

1982 Gres Colliery

1983 Rhos

1984 Gres Colliery

1985 Gres Colliery

1986 Gres Colliery

1987 Gres Colliery

1988 Gres Colliery

1989 Gres Colliery

1990 Esclusham

1991 Gres Colliery

1992 Gres Colliery

1993 Gres Colliery

1994 Gres Colliery

1995 Esclusham

1996 Esclusham

1997 Esclusham

1998 Esclusham

1999 Esclusham

2000 Llay Welfare

2001 Gres Colliery

2002 Gres Colliery

2003 Llay Welfare

2004 Llay Welfare

2005 Llay Welfare

2006 Esclusham

2007 Llay Welfare

2008 Llay Welfare

2009 Esclusham

2010 Llay Welfare

2011 Llay Welfare

2012 Esclusham

2013 Esclusham

2014 Esclusham

2015 Esclusham

2016 Esclusham

2017 Esclusham

2018 Cunliffe

2019 Llay Welfare

League Roll of Honour


Esclusham 19

Rhos  18

Gresford Colliery 15

Grosvenor 10

Llay Welfare 9

Parciau 7

Coedpoeth 4

Monsanto 4

Turf 4

Cunliffe 1

Old Crown Green Bowling Photographs

On their annual outing to Blackpool a heavy burden of responsibility rested on the shoulders of Albert Davies, the driver of the charabanc. The outward journey took two days and the return journey just as long, not that anything was wrong with the vehicle but because there were so many ‘important’ and necessary calls to be made en route!

Early 1980’s - Coedpoeth Bowling Club

1910 - Ruabon Bowling Club

Early 1980’s - Corwen Bowling Club

1961 - Parciau Bowling Club

Early 1980’s - Llay Welfare Bowling Club

1950 - Grosvenor Bowling Club

Early 1980’s - Gate Hangs High Bowling Club

1950 - Green Dragon Bowling Club

1965 - Rhos Bowling Club

1912 - The Royal Oak Bowling Team, Ponciau

Early 1980’s - Monsanto Bowling Club

There are four Welsh Merit Winners in this photograph: Bill Parry, Charlie Parry, Norman Williams and Ivor Parry.

1890 - Ellesmere Pavilion (Top Green)

1972 - Turf Bowling Club

The History of Crown Green Bowling

Crown Green bowling is mainly played in the North and Midlands of England, North Wales, and the Isle of Man.

It is hard to say when crown green bowling became properly organised, but Lancashire was certainly a leading force in the 19th century. The Blackpool Sweepstakes started in 1878 and it is worth noting that in 1897 Lancashire and Cheshire combined for the first time and played Warwickshire and Worcester in a series of county games.

There were already quite a number of other associations in existence, including Cheshire, Manchester and District, Liverpool, Huddersfield, Leeds, Spen Valley, plus public parks and licensed victuallers’ leagues and many others.

From 1907 the above associations and leagues were governed by the British Crown Green Bowling Association (BCGBA), which was then called the National Amateur Crown Green Bowling Association. The word 'Amateur' was dropped in 1972. This body brought together all the County associations.

The game was originally amateur only. Prize money was not allowed. Professional Players did exist, and they formed their own Professional Players Association, called the 'Panel'.

They used to play daily matches in Lancashire. The games were played to 41 and bets were made on the games. The games are still played today, but generally to 31 points, and the games are not as well supported as they used to be.

Because the Lancashire Association paid prize money, it was expelled from the parent association for not suspending players who played for money.

The Welsh Crown Green Bowling Association (WCGBA) was founded 1927 and is the national governing body for crown green bowling in Wales.

Crown Green Bowling has become more popular since the early 1970's and the number County Associations has increased from ten to sixteen. The game is spreading from its origin in Lancashire to other counties.

How crown green developed as a separate game is difficult to pinpoint, but the preferred theory is that bowling from the 15th century to the 18th century separated into two classes.

The rich and the moneyed who owned large gardens made bowling alleys on their lawns, flanked by hedges – in other words, rinks (flat green bowling).

The less affluent played on common ground and parks close to inns and taverns, which were the forerunners of the crown greens built adjacent to pubs and hotels.

Below is a painting depicting Francis Drake bowling at Plymouth Hoe, cool as a cucumber, as the Spanish Armada approached in 1588.

In common with most legends we cannot be sure that this actually happened. Neither can we confirm that this event did not actually take place?

What it does confirm, however, is that by the time the story emerged in print, in the 1620’s, bowls had become a national pastime.

Sources used for the above article include the excellent book ‘Bowled Over - The bowling greens of Britain’ by Hugh Hornby and the very informative website.

Some ‘interesting’ facts to finish upon…historically in the Wrexham League…..

Each player bowled their own jack when they won an end.  Otherwise the opponent bowled their jack.  I don't think you had to show the bias and your opponent wouldn't know the strength of the bias of your jack either, which used to vary and there were a lot of 2 1/2 and 2 1/4 biases around in those days!

You could not put the jack within 3 yards of the crown which was why there was a metal disc in the center of the green.

Another rule that was in existence was that there were two flags at each corner of the green about two or 3 yards from the corner if you placed the mat inside the flags you couldn’t bowl the jack  inside the flags on the other corner this at the time was to stop people bowling right on the edge of the green not sure the reason why? ... maybe to stop the green getting cut off as happens now ?

Note the flag just above the hand of Ron Jones. This photograph was taken in the 1970’s