Updated with viewer replies – When did junior bowling start in Britain?

jybc.jpg

We recently had contact with Ray Arthur who informed us he thought Wallasey YBC was 50 years old in 2016 which got us thinking, when did the YBC actually start and where?

Some digging by World bowling writer Keith Hale from Tenpin Pictoral magazines stated Corby was the first YBC in June 1966 with the first JYBC nationals were held in Wolverhampton in 1967 winners listed from Consett, Torquay, Tolworth, Plymouth, Stevenage, Sheffield. A young Pauline Bowry aka Pauline Buck won the girls minor division with 479.

So any YBC in 1966 is 50 now and any in 1967 start from January 2017. Still not overly happy with this answer it was time to delve into the history of bowling a little more.

The introduction of tenpin bowling into Great Britain was more than just the launching of a new pastime. It represented a new development in the use of leisure, for there was a sport which depended not on a small band of highley trained experts performing for the entertainment of a mass of spectators, but a socially desirable sport in which people of both sexes and all ages could take part.

4fycyg.jpg1958 AMF Bowling International formed

George Lord forms AMF Bowling International with offices in Saville Row and Manufacturing site to make tenpin pinspotters in Leytonstone, East London.

During 1961 AMF exported £120,000 worth of bowling equipment from Britain and expected to hit £800,000 by 1962.

stam.jpg1960 Tenpin Bowling Arrives in the UK

The first British tenpin bowling centre opened at 7pm on the 20th of January in 1960 at Stamford Hill.

Guests included Sir John Hunt and the MC was Eamonn Andrews at the 14 lane AMF equipped centre.

jybc_kit.jpg1964 Junior Youth Bowling Clubs start

How did we get to this date? Not convinced by a print magazine from 1966 it was time to ask a man who would know. UK Tenpin Hall of Famer Gordon “Jock” Caie. The story is JYBC was actually known as Jock’s YBC and he started it all for AMF back in 1964 when working for the company.

Was this true?

Jock told us – To answer your question about the birth of the  JYBC in the UK . (notice it was never called just the YBC ). It started it off as the Junior Youth Bowling Club, sometimes called Jock’s Youth Bowling Club by some of my friends).

Now back to 1964 and the year I became the Promotions Manager of AMF international Ltd and the sales and the rush of Bowling Centre openings started to slow down. This meant that the Sales spending budget also slowed down. In fact the Promotion budget became very small and instead of giving all promotional materials to Proprietors free of charge we had to cover our costs and make a  small charge on it.

10501916_10152579162079864_9141492428763906432_n.jpgJust about that time I had to attend a Sales and Promotions International meeting in Old Burlington Street. One of the items discussed was on Bowling Promotions and how to get youngsters into Centres on a regular or league basis. My counterpart in Australia had just started a Junior Youth Bowling Club and showed us all the materials they used. Of course I asked for it and low and behold this was how it came to the UK.

I latched onto this and approached some of the Proprietors who had AMF equipment such as Ambassador Bowling. Excel, Rank, and several independents with an offer of the materials and know how for the great sum of £10. It is difficult to say who purchased the first set of materials and started the first club, but I should imaging it was either Hull or Corby as these were the only Centres managed by AMF International at the time.

However, I did organize the first JYBC National Championships at the Ambassador Lanes, in Wolverhampton in 1967 and had a wonderful victory in the centre at the end.

In 1967 when we formed the new company of AMF Humber Bowling, it was not long afterwards that it was handed over to the BTBA and it was renamed NAYBC by them.

Still not a concrete answer but pretty close. Maybe you can help us fill in some blanks and let us know when you think your YBC started. Send your info to editor@talktenpin.net

Viewer Replies

I am Malcolm Glover and I started bowling at ABC Bowl Leytonstone East London in 1962. At the time I was fourteen years old and accompanied by my older brother John. We got the bug and joined the Friday Junior League that was led by the bowl management and then my brother John became the secretary. It started off with two games for four shillings to keep the cost down and moved on to three games quite quickly. So I suppose that was six shillings plus a small amount sixpence or a shilling towards the trophy fund for three games.

There were already BTBA sanctioned leagues at Leytonstone and the Junior League became sanctioned after a presentation by Maurice Glazer. I still have my 1962 BTBA membership card that I think cost me ten bob cash! I remember AMF’s Bill Campbell presenting our end of league trophies. I suppose I played in this league for a couple of years and then bowled in the evening adult leagues. In my Junior years I also played in another Junior League at Stamford Hill I think on a Tuesday

In about 1964 I travelled to Belgium and Holland with a group of UK Juniors playing challenge matches with the local teams under the Keystone Boys Club banner led by Ron Tucker. Other people like Dave Jones – Pete Babot – Danny Katz – Dave Wigdor were also on this trip. All this preceded the NYBC organisation.

I still see odd members of the Leytonstone and Stamford Hill Junior leagues whilst out and about locally and at other centres. At Rollerbowl Romford these include Phil Caplan in the Blue and White League and Alan xxxxxx from the daytime Senior Leagues.

The YBC in Harlow was set up on 1 April 1967, when a group of adult bowlers decided to form a YBC. Harlow’s Dave Pond was of course making a name for himself at this time and this no doubt was one of the main reasons that about 20 children turned up at the bowl on the first day when a ‘meeting’ was held in the bowl managers office. The adults included Tony and Celia Merryweather, who now live in Holland on Sea and Ian Dabbs who now lives in Suffolk.
I was one of those children, then aged 13.
Others included Paul Whalley, Andy Mercer, Steve Dabbs and Jim Coote. The club attracted many children over the next five years, until Harlow Bowl closed in August 1972. For a couple of years following this we travelled to Corkwood Bowl In Hoddesdon.
When the new bowl in Harlow opened in 1999, Paul and I set up the new Harlow YBC. On the 40th anniversary of the original club we organised a reunion of some of the original members, who met with members of the new club at that time.
I could go on but this is about as brief as I can make it.

Malcolm Glover


The YBC in Harlow was set up on 1 April 1967, when a group of adult bowlers decided to form a YBC. Harlow’s Dave Pond was of course making a name for himself at this time and this no doubt was one of the main reasons that about 20 children turned up at the bowl on the first day when a ‘meeting’ was held in the bowl managers office. The adults included Tony and Celia Merryweather, who now live in Holland on Sea and Ian Dabbs who now lives in Suffolk.
I was one of those children, then aged 13.
Others included Paul Whalley, Andy Mercer, Steve Dabbs and Jim Coote. The club attracted many children over the next five years, until Harlow Bowl closed in August 1972. For a couple of years following this we travelled to Corkwood Bowl In Hoddesdon.
When the new bowl in Harlow opened in 1999, Paul and I set up the new Harlow YBC. On the 40th anniversary of the original club we organised a reunion of some of the original members, who met with members of the new club at that time.
Nicholas Taylor
Harlow YBC

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