A History of Burradon Bowling Club
By Ralph Wilson
Burradon was once a typical thriving colliery village with the first shaft being sunk in 1819 and the second in 1837. Prior to development of a colliery, Burradon had been a small farming hamlet.
In the late 19th and early 20th century the only recreational amenities were a football field, running and whippet tracks located on part of the land which was later to be the welfare.
In 1924 a group of miners from Burradon and Weetslade collieries held a meeting with union officials, the colliery management and the welfare committee and following discussions it was agreed to improve the recreational facilities for the benefit of the employees of the colliery.
11.56 acres of land were purchased from Will Younger and the funds to create the welfare were provided by a weekly levy from the miners, the miner's welfare fund and a grant from the colliery fund.
The purchase of the freehold was completed on 31 March 1925 for £1,156.10 and the agreement included a clause which stated the land was to be used for the sole purpose of recreation and pleasure.
Commercial landscapers were appointed to prepare and layout the welfare facilities, which included the relocation of the football pitch, installation of the tennis courts, putting green, band stand, cricket pitch, children's playground, bowling green and pavilion.
The drainage for the bowling green was formed with a thick bed of ashes removed from the local ash heap from the household "middens". The top soil was taken from a hump in a local field and then a high quality sea washed Warkworth turf was laid. The area was contained by the construction of a sand stone wall.
Competitive bowling commenced in 1926 following the end of the General Strike and the completion of the facilities and during the subsequent years produced an active membership.
Approximately 1933, a ladies team was established and as a consequence of the high demand a second bowling green was provided which was subsequently converted into a putting green. Competitive bowling was restricted during the war, however, in 1944 Burradon was a founder member of the newly formed Northumberland Bowling Association (3 a side). Unfortunately, during the inaugural season Burradon and Blyth both dropped out of the league due to transport difficulties, however, both teams rejoined at the start of the 1945 season.
With the closure of Weetslade Colliery in September 1966 there was a significant fall in the revenue and as a consequence C.I.S.W.O. was approached to help with the costs to maintain the welfare facilities.
C.I.S.W.O. continued to support the welfare until the closure of Burradon Colliery on 8 November 1975. With the loss of the miner's weekly levy it was impossible to manage and maintain the facilities and it was necessary to negotiate the transfer of the facilities to North Tyneside Council.
The transfer of the facilities was completed in September 1977 and the sale proceeds of £42,267.07(£40,000 + interest) were remitted to the North Northumberland Miners Welfare Trust in 1978.
The Mechanics Institute and Bowling Pavilion were immediately demolished as the buildings required extensive repairs. The pavilion was replaced with a container type building; regrettably no alternative building was constructed to replace the Institute.
Bowling has continued to be an extremely popular leisure activity during recent years with a fluctuating membership, in 1984 membership increased from 18 to 50 and as a consequence restrictions were imposed together with the introduction of a waiting list.
A second team was formed which competed in county fixtures, Northern Bowls, i.e. the Welfare League and C.I.U. League. The club has been moderately successful and there have been many individual achievements.
I have lived, worked and played in the village most of my life and enjoyed all the amenities in the Welfare, however, I was not attracted to bowling with the exception of occasionally helping the grounds man to roll the green during my childhood.
However, following my retirement in 1991, I joined the bowling club and in 1993 was elected Secretary.
The article was originally written by Ralph Wilson in 1994 as a contribution to the Northumberland County Bowling Association Fixture Handbook for the 1993/94 season. The information for the article was contributed by Alice Summers, Annie Lattie and Bill Robson.