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History of our Club

A Drawing of Major George Whyte Melville from 1871 A Drawing of Major George Whyte Melville from 1871


Northampton Whyte Melville Bowling Club was formed on the 26th February 1909. The old minute book states each member paid a subscription of one shilling and sixpence.  

The club is named after the sporting novelist Major George John Whyte-Melville who donated the proceeds from the publication of one of his novels to go towards the purchase of land for the building of St Giles Street Working Mens Club in Northampton in 1865.

For several years the bowling club formed part of the sporting section of the working mens club and used the club in St Giles Street as their headquarters. They bowled on the Abington Park public greens and had many successful seasons, winning the Abington Park Bowling League Trophy on numerous occasions.

One of the club’s members at the time, Mr A E Throssell, was the first recipient of the Northamptonshire Bowling Association four wood County singles trophy in 1922.

Northampton Whyte Melville Bowling Club also won the prestigious county competition – The Manfield Cup in 1926.At this time Whyte Melville achieved a record score winning 120 shots to 45.

From the early days the club always had a full fixture list playing other bowling clubs in the county and also playing clubs in other counties close by. For the away matches out of the town the club hired one of Mr Yorks coaches based at Cogenhoe. Three shillings and sixpence per player covered the coach hire, after match tea together with the green fee.

The Club was also well known for providing its guests with a substantial after match meal with home cooked ham.

Not many members had their own bowls (or woods as they known originally) so often sets of bowls were donated to the club. These had to be polished and oiled each year at the club’s expense.  

Finally the club moved from the Abington Park public bowling greens to share a bowling green with Northampton West End Bowling Club situated at Franklins Gardens.

Then the club had a further move, renting a green at the old Lotus Sports Ground, Harlestone Road, Northampton.

The club continued to have a nomadic existence for a good many years, renting a bowling green in Spinney Hill and St Andrews Hospital in Northampton.

During the time the club used St Andrews Hospital as its base, a very successful Sunday mixed team was formed. In 1996 a ladies section was established.

Sadly the Club’s lease at St Andrew’s bowling green was terminated in 1998 due to the continued expansion of the hospital and the Club moved back to Abington Park. The old County Ground Bowling Club helped the Club out by offering its green and facilities for some matches/county competitions.   

Finally by good fortune in 2000 the club acquired a sub lease on a newly completed bowling green at Fernie Fields Sports Ground in Northampton, sharing clubhouse facilities with Fernie Fields Sports and Social Club. Since being at Fernie Fields the club has gone from strength to strength and now has a flourishing mixed membership.