Alexandra Meadows, at the top of the precipitous Dukes Brow in Blackburn, is home to the men and women of the East Lancs Crown Green Bowling Club and has been ever since the club’s establishment in 1867.

In 2017, after over 269 years as an independent club, they were joined there by the members of Blackburn Subscription Bowling Club (the worlds oldest) following a merger with the East Lancs, bringing with them their impressive haul of silverware and centuries of memorabilia. Together they are a force to be reckoned with in Lancastrian crown green bowling.

The game takes its name from the distinctive curve (crown) on the centre of the green, and is played using a biased Jack and similarly biased bowls. The jack is despatched a minimum of 19 meters from the starting mat in any direction across the green and players vie to nestle their two bowls closest to it. The game requires great skill and tactical nous and a keen knowledge of the topography of the green is a distinct advantage. Games typically last around an hour, the winner being the first player or pair to reach 21 points. Bowlers being modern thinkers men and women play on entirely equal terms.

The maintenance of the green is of paramount importance and at East Lancs the sward is kept pristine and verdant by Jim Swan, Michael Harvey and Alan Inglis. During the summer the green is cut thrice weekly and fed on a monthly basis. Being in Lancashire it has rarely, if ever, required much watering.

Today 10 teams play in 6 leagues during the longer days of summer, and at least twice weekly during the winter come rain or shine. East Lancs welcomes new members of all ages with subscriptions at a very reasonable £25 per annum. Bowls are available for beginners to borrow and a new set of bowls can be purchased from around £90. No other specialist equipment is required. A keen competitive spirit is useful but not mandatory.

Our sincere thanks to all of the members for welcoming us to what is for many their second home.

With particular thanks to Alan Inglis, Anne Inglis, Jim Swan, Richard Wignall, Jim Martindale, Janet Martindale, Mike Harvey, Jeff Kenyon, Dorothy Kenyon, Christine Preston, Bob Thomasson, Barbara Thomasson, Bill Catterall, Julie Catterall.

Photography by Lee Smillie

Shot at The Meadows, Dukes Brow, Blackburn

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