This article appeared in the Falkirk Herald on 4th September 1875
OPENING OF THE BONNYBRIDGE BOWLING GREEN
Yesterday was a red letter day in the history of the little thriving village of Bonnybridge - a day that will be remembered long by the inhabitants for it saw an accomplishment which will ever throw praise upon the generosity and spirit of its leading gentlemen .
A public bowling green in a village of like dimensions and importance where there are almost no facilities for amusement is an acquisition which cannot be too highly valued. The opening of such a place, where the villagers in the summer months after the labours of the day are over, can associate and enjoy the pleasures of the genteel game of bowls, is an event well worth recording. In passing through the village we noticed many praiseworthy manifestations of the industry and cultivations of the people. A good few of the cottages are of model character, the little flower gardens in front of them bearing marks of constant attention and considerable taste in the arrangement of the flowers. Several of these cottages, we understand, belong to the workmen but the most of them are the property of Messrs George Ure & Co and Messrs Smith & Wellstood both of which firms take to all appearance an interest in the welfare of the people, which is very gratifying to observe. While speaking in this strain we might mention that the industrial establishments of Bonnybridge consist of the foundries the names of the proprietors of which we have already given, the Bonnybridge Paper Mills; Mr. Geo Turnbull's Brickfield; Mr. George Paterson's and Mr James Wilson's Sawmills; Mr. John Cousland's Flour Mill and Mr Grant's Meal Mill - all of which at present enjoy a prosperous trade. The population is perhaps over a thousand.
The green itself is 42 yards square and the border on which the walk is formed and where shrubs and flowers are intended to be planted is 15 feet wide. It is enclosed with a stone wall on its north, east and west boundaries whilst on the south with a parapet wall and an ornamental panel railing, a gift from the local foundries. It is beautifully situated at the west end of the village on the road leading to Larbert, and immediately to the west of Mr. Geo Ure's grounds of Wheatlands.
It is five years since the villagers resolved to have a bowling green, but it was only lately that they entered into the movement with spirit and earnestness and consequently with any prospect of success. Great encouragement came from a quarter where the people of Bonnybridge have often experienced kindness and liberality In addition to the working men's subscriptions large contributions were given by Messrs George Ure & Co and Messrs Smith & Wellstood, Mr George Paterson of Thornton, Mr. Andrew Stirling of Bonnyfield and Mr. Kirkwood of Bonnyside and by a number of friends belonging to the neighbouring villages. The total cost of the green when finished will amount to £400. The acting members of the managing committee were Mr. George Ure Jnr. of the firm of Geeorge Ure & Co; Mr. James Smith Jnr. of the firm of Messrs Smith & Wellstood; Mr Rob Grieve and Mr. James Mitchell foreman at the Columbian Stove Works, Mr. James Wilson Wood Merchants, Mr James Mochrie foreman to Messrs George Ure & Co, Mr. John McPhie and Mr. William Ecplin?????
The weather in the forenoon was very dull dark rain clouds rolled overhead and several showers fell but as the time for the performance of the ceremony advanced the sky cleared and about half past three o'clock the sun broke out with dazzling brilliancy. Among the numerous ladies and gentlemen present were Dr Coutle and Mr Neilson of Cumbernauld, Mr Blair of Musselburgh; Mr. Beeby and a few friends from Falkirk; The Rev J ???? and party from Camelon; Mr. Bowles of Brighton; Mr. N Martin and party from Bannockburn; Mr. Auld and Dr ??? of Denny; Mr. Smith Jnr and party from Glasgow; Mr.. Smith Snr from London; Mr Stirling of Bonnyfield; Messrs Paterson of Thornton; Mr James Clark W?????? and Mr Gillespie a teacher of Bonnybridge. The Camelon and Bonnybridge instrumental bands were also in attendance and played a selection of music.
Everything being in readiness
Mr. George Ure who was received with prolonged cheering, addressed the assemblage. He would not detain them long with any remarks he had to make. The weather had been very broken and unsettled and not at all inviting but he had no doubt they had all been glad to come and take part in the opening of the Bonnybridge Bowling Green. (Cheers) He was sure that there was an incalculable amount of pleasure in store for the people of the village in what, through the energy and indefatigable industry of the committee with Mr Grieve at their head had been accomplished that day. The green was not quite finished, but before another year came round he was sure it would be. (Cheers) The inhabitants of Bonnybridge were with a few exceptions, all working men and there was scarcely any of that class which generally possessed an amount of surplus cash; but by putting their shoulders to the wheel, with the assistance of kind neighbours who helped better than was expected, and of the employers and friends in the immediate locality - all of whom they hoped to often have a game with - they succeeded in their efforts to form a green. Hitherto in Bonnybridge, the pleasures of the game had only been participated in by those who were prosperous of means, but now the working men would have the privilege of enjoying them. It was impossible to estimate the benefits which would accrue to a village from the possession of such a place of amusement, which might be said in a sense to be free to all. One effect which the green would have upon those who might take advantage of the opportunity for a few hours enjoyment of an evening, which the green afforded , it would rub off all rough corners from their characters. (Hear, hear) No one who was not prepared to act as a gentleman would be allowed to enter the green. (Cheers) He was sure the good effect it would have upon the manners of the inhabitants would be strikingly seen before long. (renewed cheers) The speaker then mentioned the liberality of his late partner, Mr. Smith, remarking that Mr. Smith was still his partner in every good movement which effected the condition of the village. (Hear, hear) He concluded by complimenting Mr. Grieve, the Secretary of the club, by expressing his pleasure at seeing so many ladies and gentlemen present from a distance, and by calling on Mr. Mitchell (the President) to throw two bowls across the green, after which he would declare the green opened. (Cheers)
Mr. Mitchell having done as directed, the green was declared opened. A number of gentlemen then engaged in a friendly game. The day continued fine during the remainder of the afternoon. The votaries of Torpsichore enjoyed the pleasures of dancing in a field adjoining, the music being furnished by the bands, Refreshments were supplied by Mr. Peter Burns, of the Bonnybridge public house.
Our thanks to The Falkirk Herald where this article originally appeared on 4th September 1875. What a piece of prose, an eloquent article written in the laid back fashion of the day. Obtained from the archives in Falkirk Library and retyped by Mike Robinson in 2007.