LUTTON PLACE BOWLING CLUB
Andrew H Hamilton
Being involved in the set up of The Edinburgh Secretaries Association was not James Pretsell’s first involvement in the organisation of a Bowling Association.
In late August 1892 a circular was sent to Clubs and Associations throughout Scotland requesting they send delegates to the Central Station Hotel in Glasgow to discuss the formation of a National Bowling Association, James Pretsell, as Treasurer of the Edinburgh & Leith Association, was one of the twelve signatories on this circular. At this meeting, which 120 delegates attended it was agreed that a National Bowling Association be formed. A Committee of 25 delegates were elected to draw up the rules and constitution of the Association, James Pretsell being one of the four Edinburgh delegates on this Committee. In 1894 the Scottish Bowling Association was formally launched and the first games played.
In 1898 James Pretsell was elected as the 4th President of the Scottish Bowling Association, the same year and the following year he was also President of Lutton Place Bowling Club.
Earlier in his Bowling career James Pretsell championed the public green movement and along with other interested parties persuaded Edinburgh Town Council to lay down greens at the West Meadows.
In 1901, a Scottish Eight visited London and played what was probably the first England v Scotland International. James Pretsell played second in an All Lutton Place Rink skipped by Andrew H Hamilton. Dr W.G. Grace skipped the English Eight; the Scots were victors in this game.
England, Wales and Ireland went on to form their own National Associations and along with the Scottish Association our current game has evolved.
(from the book “The Game of Bowls” by J.M. Pretsell (son of James Pretsell))
The first Secretary of the SBA James Brown, was succeeded in 1895 by Andrew H Hamilton who went on to hold the post for 41 years and indeed the SBA and the game in general owe him a debt of gratitude.
Hamilton Joined Lutton Place in 1889 on moving to Edinburgh from Moffat, in his first year he won the club’s singles title and repeated the feat on another four occasions along with winning the Champion of City Champions trophy on three occasions thus proving his administrative duties had not dulled his appetite for success on the green.
When the International Bowling Board was formed in 1905 Hamilton was elected as it’s first hon. Secretary, he retired from this post in 1907 only to take it up again in 1913.
Hamilton obviously had a niche for administrative posts as he also served as hon. Secretary of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club and was also a High Constable of Edinburgh
In 1939 he presented the A.H. Hamilton trophy to be played for by teams representing county and city associations and this has become one of the most sought after trophies in the Scottish game, it was originally devised as a knockout competition but has evolved into a competition based on a league format.
Lutton Place Bowling Club may be said to have been born at the close of the Annual Meeting of the “Edinburgh Bowling Club” which was held at 58 Lothian Street on 10th April 1860. Several of the members moved a resolution to have a new green constructed and appointed Messrs Paterson, Combe, Philpot, Roberson and Riach as a committee to look out for a piece of ground suitable for the purpose. These gentlemen acting on a pattern still adhered to by the present day committee, anticipated the gun so to speak, and were in a position to immediately enter into negotiations for renting a piece of ground which has subsequently proved to be suitable in every respect, as both the green and club have stood the test of time to the extent of 100 years.
To describe the clubs progress over a century cannot be done adequately in the limited space at our disposal, and we must confine ourselves to outstanding events and personalities who emerged during the period this chronicle attempts to cover. It is fitting that the clubs honours should be given pride of place, as it is the club to whom this year we pay homage. In doing so, no reflection is cast upon individuals for, after all, what is a club but the fusion of individual personalities, and from such is its prosperity and success derived.
The award of an international cap, though looked upon as an individual honour, is in effect a dual award, as it recognises both the recipient and his club. The first member to be honoured in this fashion was Andrew H. Hamilton who was “capped” in 1903; he was closely followed by George Sneddon in 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1909, 1910, and 1912, then A. Morrison in 1919 and G. Salmon in 1926 and 1928. Truly a remarkable performance when it is remembered that Lutton Place Bowling Club has never aspired to a large membership but preferred to keep that intimacy and esprit du corps that is the hallmark of all successful clubs.
The trophy which is undoubtedly nearest to the hearts of all Lutton Place members is that which was presented by the SBA to commemorate the services of the late Andrew H. Hamilton, SSC, rendered to the association and which is now associated with the officially recognised County Championship. Since the trophy was first played for in 1939, Lutton Place has had two of its members chosen to play for Edinburgh and Leith Bowling Association namely C.M. Stewart, who was selected on 10 occasions and gained four winner’s medals and G. Fisher selected on two occasions, gaining a winners medal the first year he was chosen.
New Edinburgh Bowling Club Original Clubhouse
The Founders of International Bowling Matches
W. A. Morgan, Wales; Dr W.G. Grace, England;
J.C. Hunter, Ireland; A.H. Hamilton, Scotland.
Having dealt with the playing abilities of the members, let us now turn to another sphere where the talents of these gentlemen shone, namely “legislation.” No club can flourish without the much criticised “Committee” who are blamed for everything from the greens condition to the state of the weather, the clubhouse roof, the clubs finances – in fact any unforeseen occurrence that arises.
Outstanding in the field of Club and Association administration again appears the figure of the late Andrew Hamilton, who was Secretary of the Scottish Bowling Association from 1895 until 1936 and the following year became President. His first twenty five years as Secretary had been recognised in 1920 when he was presented with a cheque for £400 and Mrs Hamilton received a handsome silver tea service
Mr Hamilton was not the first member Lutton Place had provided for the national body; this distinction had fallen to the late Mr James Pretsell, who was the SBA President in 1898. Mr Pretsell is also remembered for his splendid work in the provision of scholarships for entry to the Heriot-Watt college.
Before departing from the administrative side of club life it is a significant fact that the father of W.M. McKay, the present club secretary during the Centenary year held the same office when the club celebrated its Jubilee.
Lack of space prevents the mentioning of various members who held both the Presidency and the championship during the same year; those with the most Championships to their credit; those with notable sequences and other records of a similar nature. A glance at the list of Presidents and that of Club Champions will enable anyone who is interested to work out these vital statistics for themselves, but one feels that one name must, at this stage, be mentioned – that of George Sneddon. Mr Sneddon’s grand record as a member shows that on four occasions he won the Tait Trophy, on eleven occasions he won the Club Championship (including two hat tricks), and was President from 1903 – 1905.
No club can flourish by its members playing ties among themselves and Lutton Place is no exception; so it would be well at this stage to mention some of the Kindred clubs with whom matches are regularly exchanged. The first on this list is naturally the Edinburgh, and this is followed by Ardmillan, Corstorphine, Dean, Northern, and Willowbrae – all of whom are taking part in the Centenary celebrations.
This exchange of what one might call fraternal greetings was not confined to clubs within the City of Edinburgh but stretched to such places as Broxburn, Fauldhouse, Leven, and Penicuik where annual matches are still exchanged.
Tait Trophy Winners
During the season of 1955 it was found that the condition of some of the woodwork of the clubhouse was in need of attention, and temporary repairs were carried out to enable the members to continue having the full use of the facilities provided. The whole position was reviewed and discussed at the Annual General meeting in 1956 and as a result of the proposals put forward it was decided to inaugurate a Building and Centenary Fund to be applied in the proportions of two thirds to the rebuilding of the Clubhouse and one third to the Centenary celebrations. So well did the members respond to the appeal that at the end of the 1959 season the fund had a balance to it’s credit of over £1,000. In conclusion it would be well to point out that Mr David Harkess has the honour of having the longest membership of the club and during this time has served terms of office as both President and Secretary. The oldest member in terms of age is Mr David Milne but so energetic is he that one regards his as just one of the average members. The first hundred years has gone and may be termed the end of the beginning. So forward now, Lutton Place, to greater things.
Opening Day 1960
Concealed behind St Peters church with tenement windows overlooking the proceedings this bowling enclave has endured here for 150 years. Many have entered its narrow pathway to be surprised that such a place exists. What better use can a piece of ground such as this be put to than for the game of bowls. It would be very difficult for the present day Lutton Place to emulate the clubs earliest years when it produced some of Scotland’s foremost Bowling administrators and bowlers. In recent years the club has settled into becoming somewhere that bowls are played in a friendly but competitive atmosphere within the local bowling scene. Lutton Place has much in common with many bowling clubs but on a slightly smaller scale. We may have a very restricted site and an undersized green but the most has been made of what we have.
After the Club celebrated its Centenary in 1960 it was realised that there was a need to expand and improve the clubhouse facilities, the membership rallied to the cause wonderfully well and created, by their own efforts, the double storey building as it is today. It was ready and opened for the 1967 season and its upper storey affords a fine panoramic view across the green. These improved facilities created a more dynamic club, attracting increased membership and by 1979 a full membership of 80 was achieved, with a waiting, list no less. The improvements also allowed the inauguration of a Ladies section in the 1967 season.
All at Lutton Place are proud of the fact that our club is one of the seven founding members of the Edinburgh & Leith Bowling Association. Unfortunately of these seven only five remain and we were extremely saddened by the demise of the Edinburgh Club, which was the club from which members broke away to found what was to become Lutton Place. All the founding members compete annually for the McIvor Trophy which was presented by an ex President of Hillside Bowling Club. After many years of not being able to host the competition due to our undersized green we look forward to hosting it this year in August and perhaps winning it again. As you can see from the photographs from 1980 and 1994 it has been some time since we were victorious, the last time being 1999.
1962 saw the formation of the South Edinburgh Bowling Association and a member from Lutton Place, Mr George Rosie, donated the trophy for the winners of the 1st XVI league. The first winners of the trophy were Whitehouse & Grange in 1962 and we ourselves won it the following year and again in 1998 when we went on to compete in the district final. With the demise of SEBA after 43 years in 2006, the trophy was returned to us for safekeeping. Lutton Place was sad to see the SEBA league end as it had performed splendidly for its 43 years allowing 32 players to play each Wednesday evening. With only 8 clubs remaining it had become no longer viable and we, like the rest, joined the Edinburgh Bowling League in 2007, although as mentioned by Past President Bill Cormack elsewhere in this book the Senior section of SEBA continued on in a new format.
New Club Clubhouse
SEBA 1st XVI League Winners 1998
Over the last 50 years we have had some characters as members as well as some outstanding ones who have served the club well and I wish to mention two of them here. Firstly we have Walter Turner who joined Lutton place at the age of 18 in 1938 and who remained a member for over 50 years, apart from his five years during the war when he was a guest of the Germans as a POW. In more peaceful times he served twice as Club President in 1955 and 1988, which was his 50th year as a member. He also served as Club Secretary for a time in the 1980’s. On the playing front his abilities and experience enabled him to win the Championship in 1977. He is remembered fondly in the club today with a trophy which bears his name. This was initially contested for by members of the club who were approaching Senior membership status but in recent times was turned into an open club championship, as it is now available to all members both male and female to enter and compete.
President G Plenderleith with
Jocky Weir in 2009
Also mentioned by Bill are our successful seniors and their travels to the SBA finals at Northfield on two occasions. On one of those occasions we had an unforgettable district 12 final against Parkside on Whitehouse & Grange. This game was an epic and it needed an extra end to decide the winners, this end went to the last bowl, delivered by Ronnie Strang who drew a splendid shot to an offset jack to win the match and take the rink of himself, Jim Tierney, Robert Ross and George Higgins to Ayr.
On the second trip to Ayr the rink of Jim Tierney, Alex Scott, Andy Heatlie and John Johnstone had an extremely close match with Wigton but unfortunately we were again eliminated after round 1. To get to the Scottish finals is an achievement in itself that cannot be underrated.
Not many have given greater service to the club than the second member that I wish to mention, A.M. Scott. Alex has served twice as President in 1981 & 1982 and for the past 22 years has safely and diplomatically guided us as Club Secretary. In this our 150th year, we see Alex again serving the Club as our President and rightly so. Alex has also served the Bowling fraternity within South Edinburgh as President of SEBA both in 1989 & 2000.
2009 also saw a second member achieve 50 years as a member of Lutton Place with John “Jocky” Weir being presented with a trophy at the AGM to mark this achievement, sadly he passed away before the season commenced. Jocky served the club well over the 50 years and is well remembered for his time as bar convener. His connection with the bar continued with him being a regular feature behind the bar on league nights right up until 2007 when he finally poured his last pint, although he remained a good customer right to the end enjoying his Friday nights with a drink and a game of dominoes.
Turning now to success on the green, which can at times prove to be rather enigmatic. The club championship can provide a stepping-stone to further progress within the game. Lutton Place over the years has produced its share of very able club champions. The achievements of George Sneddon with 11 wins have already been mentioned but the records also show that David Baird has won on 7 occasions, Andrew H Hamilton on 6 along with C. Stewart. More recently many outstanding players have registered more than one win. J Sandilands won for the fourth time in 1969. Bob Berry, who was one of the clubs strongest players in recent times, as he also got to the district semi finals in the Scottish Championship, claimed 3 championship wins. A family affair has produced 7 championship wins with Graham Henderson winning on four occasions and his father Jimmy winning 3. Graham also skipped a junior Edinburgh & Leith team, had a trial for the Hamilton Trophy team, and was a district semi finalist in the Scottish Championship. Much much more could be said about successes on the green and many more names could be mentioned here but as other names and successes are mentioned throughout this book I will leave it here with only one more – Andy Heatlie who has had the honour of being our President 5 times also has the unique distinction of appearing in no less than 5 championship finals without capturing the elusive victory, this must show great consistency yet Andy does not agree as he would gladly swap all these appearances for just one championship win.
As is said elsewhere, no club can flourish by its members playing ties with themselves and friendly matches are just as important today as they were in the past, but with the structure of bowling having changed over recent times they are not as numerous at Lutton Place as they once were. They are, though, still valued and four are still played at present (in playing order) Mayfield, Alloa, Penicuik and Pumpherston.
Our game against Alloa carries with it an interesting story. The first game was played on Saturday 4th June 1894 (I think at Alloa) and must have been arranged between Andrew Hamilton and Mr T Cousin, a prominent Alloa bowler and SBA council member. The fixture was reconvened in 1994 and is now played annually with the added incentive of silverware going to the successful club. The game against Penicuik has been going for over 50 years and is a valued and popular fixture, Walter Turner and Tommy McGill, long serving and now well remembered members of Lutton Place, always delighted in this fixture. It is always a pleasure to visit Penicuik on a Saturday afternoon with its wide-open spaces and views to the Pentland hills, a competitive game is always guaranteed, but only if the “fresh air” does not overcome the Lutton Place bowlers! Our senior members eagerly anticipate the Pumpherston games as noted by Bill Cormack and the green at Pumpherston is always great to play on. The friendly with Mayfield is used as a “trial” for our league season and always manages to remove any bowling “cobwebs” before the season proper begins.
It would not be proper if I failed to mention in this piece our playing “theatre” the green, is as I have already said undersized with only five rinks of 40 yards in the best playing direction. The other 32-yard direction is hardly used these days and many discussions and debates have ensued over the years regarding playing the short way. Enclosed as it is by surrounding buildings, green maintenance can at times pose a challenge.
Overshadowing can create low growth, which makes the green susceptible to fungal attacks in the winter. The club committee have always been understanding and have invested greatly in green maintenance equipment over the years and I hope that all who visit our green, be it for a friendly, a competitive or a celebratory match in this year will enjoy playing on it.
Eric Hobson MBE
Green Ranger & Past President 2000 - 2001