President: Cathie Falconer




John Wilson President 1984

'A CLUB IS BORN’ 1924-1984

Although now Bainfield is a Bowling and Social Club, the origin of the Club did not stem from bowling but another well-known sport-football.

In 1919, a young man by the name of Gibby Nicholson formed a football team and named it Edinburgh Bainfield Football Team. The team entered into the Juvenile League and in season 1920-21 won the Walker and Cowan Cups. Who would have thought at that time of the honours that lay ahead for members of a Club called Bainfield, whether in football or other sports.

The name of the Club was taken from the house and surrounding fields owned by a James Bain who in 1729 is recorded as the Deacon of the Society & Fraternity of Gardeners in Gardeners Hall. He owned the lands surrounding his House (which stood until about 1882) now the site of the Fountainbridge Library. Prior to forming the team, Gibby and his friends would play football on these fields. The fields was situated in the Fountainbridge area of Edinburgh near Murdoch Terrace and the surrounding district was known as BAINSFIELD. Obviously, times change, and the site is now occupied by Scottish & Newcastle Breweries.

It is a fact that the now well-known football teams of Hearts and Hibs played a league match on this very ground prior to obtaining Tynecastle Park and Easter Road. It is also a fact that a well-known member of Bainfield and an Ex- President of the S.l.B.A. was actually at the game; although he does not recall the score, he assures me that Hearts won convincingly! The member's name has not been disclosed simply to prevent him being swamped by autograph hunters and possibly giving away his age!!!

A photograph of the football team was given to the Club which shows them winning the Cup in 1920. This photograph is a proud possession and it has at least two Founder Members in it along with the first President of Bainfield Bowling Club, MR. J. ALLISON. The two Founder Members, W. McKay and W. McKenzie still frequent the Club to this day. The President at that time was JIM McKay whose daughter is at present a member of the Ladies Section. This may give some indication of what Bainfield Bowling Club is-a Family Club with at least three generations of involvement by quite a few families.

In 1924, members of the football team knowing they were entering the age of being 'old men' in the football world, decided to form a bowling club. This was a shrewd move to come from football as 'old men' and enter bowling as 'young men'. From this it can only be said that bowling was never 'an old man's game'.

The Bainfield Bowling and Recreation Club was, therefore, founded in 1924. For reasons unknown to myself, Recreation was changed to Social and the Club is known to this day as Bainfield Bowling and Social Club.

The best known of the Founder Members are W McKay, W McKenzie D. Reith and the man who started it all, Gibby Nicholson, who I am sorry, to say died in 1984. Messrs. McKay, McKenzie and Reith, who passed on in the later years, would have been quite proud and glad they,' decided to play' bowls. Recorded in the First Minute book of the Club on 19th August 1924 are the Founder Members. G F Nicholson, Wm. McKenzie, Wm. Hall, Alex Strachan, John McNee, Wm. Cockburn, David Reith, Wm. McKay, John S McKay, Jas Mitchell, Wm. Murray, George Edwards, Wm. Manegie, Wm. Bakie, D Cumming, Jas Chapman, Andrew Geissler, Robert McKay, A Nisbet, Thos Short, C Fraser, T Stirling, J A McKay, Wm. King, H Cameron, George Barclay, J Greenhill, Jas Allison, J Farquhar, Henry Scrimger.

The first clubhouse occupied by the Club was situated at Harrison Park a public bowling green and hut occupied by the local Council. Through the years that followed, membership increased, meetings were held where premises could be found-places such as Dundee Street Public Library at Fountainbridge and the Keir Hardie Hall at Bryson Road. Funds for the running of the Club were raised through membership fees, whist drives, dominoes and cards-if there was a way to raise money, they tried it. As membership increased, it was obvious that other premises had to be obtained-grounds of their own and a clubhouse.

Wheels were set in motion, various sites were looked at but none was suitable. In 1951, the site at Hutchison Crossway was inspected but the vacant site at that time was not considered suitable for construction purposes due to the type of sub soil; but who wanted to build-all that was required was a bowling green and possibly a small clubhouse for changing.

With this in mind, the land was purchased at a total cost of £4O quite a reasonable sum. At the time of purchase, their neighbours were Cox's Glue Works and, depending on which way the wind was blowing would ascertain whether you enjoyed a game of bowls or not! Maybe this was another reason for obtaining the ground so cheaply.

The land was overgrown with plant life and had to be cleared. That's when members had to play their part. Money was tight, voluntary labour was absolutely essential. Clear it they did, a Green was laid and the first clubhouse was obtained.

The first clubhouse was an old building site hut approximately 16ft. x 8ft purchased from Burn & Baillie, the plumbers. The Treasurer at that time was Willie Thompson, a plumber with the firm. Willie was later to become the owner and a very strong link in a chain of men who were soon to provide the west of Edinburgh with a new indoor bowling stadium.

The clubhouse, small as it was, became a locker room for bowls, a games room, function hall and kitchen. The heating used for this new clubhouse was an old iron stove situated in the centre with a steel chimney through the roof. As a locker room, it had enough storage for members' bowls. As a games room, members would play cards and dominoes. (Snooker was not allowed). As a kitchen, pies were placed on old biscuit tin lids and heated on the old stove. They were then sold to members. As a function hall, the ladies at that time actually held a Burns Supper within the hut.

Although from such a small beginning it would be reasonable to assume that the clubhouse at present was funded initially from the sale of tea and pies heated on an old iron stove situated in a second-hand plumber's hut. Quite an achievement by any standards!!

The first bowling green laid at Bainfield was situated where the indoor stadium now stands. A box covered with lead and containing money, papers and other valuables was placed under the Green at the south-west corner. By placing such a box, it would appear the members expected the green to be there for a considerable time.

Who at that time would have thought that in less than 25 years the green would be lifted to make way for an indoor stadium. When the green was lifted, the box could not be found. The question is 'Who laid the box and what was in it?" Surely there could not have been something so valuable that someone would have taken it or will it be found when the indoor stadium outlives its use?

Adjacent to the club was a railway line which had a footbridge across it for access. From this footbridge the whole of the Club's grounds could be seen and it was from this bridge that the Club's lapel badge was designed. When standing on the bridge taking photographs, a member noticed that the bowling green was not square but appeared in the shape of a diamond and it was from this view that the badge was struck. The main colours of Bainfield are black and white. These colour’s were originally the football team colour’s and they played with shirts of black and white vertical stripes.

In 1952, members' thoughts turned to having larger premises, possibly a real dance hall with a bar. It was decided to purchase two huts from a farmer near Ratho. Once again, voluntary labour was required. Members travelled to and from Ratho and dismantled the huts section by section. A coal lorry was borrowed and the huts transported to Hutchison Crossway where they would be erected into a new clubhouse.

Once erected, most members must have thought they had reached the end and work was now completed. Not so, a few were dissatisfied, WHY STOP HERE ?. Thoughts turned to greater things; bigger and better premises, even INDOOR BOWLING! The majority of members thought these few to be ‘MAD’ even ‘FOOLS’ but this did not deter them, even although they knew that the ground was not suitable for building. They still wanted bigger and better premises. BUT TIME STOOD STILL...

For almost six years the members talked about a new clubhouse but no one seemed to take any action. The talk appeared to be idle talk until one Annual General Meeting a young member stood on his feet and wanted action. This man was WILLIE LEES, a well-known ‘rebel’ within the membership. Willie voiced his opinions but there were some who did not like it Without even being on Committee they made him PRESIDENT with the view that if he could do better, let him get on with it. THE YEAR-1958.

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