Bowlers roll in for centenary

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The Hastings Open Bowls Tournament is about to celebrate its centenary.

The popular annual event, first held in 1911, takes centre stage at the bowling greens in White Rock Gardens from Monday until next Saturday.

The opening ceremony gets underway at 8.45am on Monday with an announcement by the Town Crier at 8.50am. The formal two-bowl opening by deputy mayor Cllr Alan Roberts and Mark Gardiner, of the tournament’s main sponsor Croft Glass, will take place at 9am.

Tournament chairman Gordon Baldock will then give a short welcoming address and bowlers will proceed to the greens about 9.15am to start at 9.30am.

Although it is thought that nobody is planning to don Georgian dress, the tournament committee has come up with several ideas to mark the historic occasion.

Hastings Library is putting together a laminated collage from 1911 and 1912, mainly of the bowls tournament around that time, but also including other sports.

Tournament treasurer Gordon Leggatt has run off a list of winners down the years and, in addition to the usual trophies, the various winners will receive 1911 King George V pennies.

A short centenary booklet on the history of the tournament, with foreword by bowls legend David Bryant, is available for £2.50 together with the programme and draw (£2), centenary lapel badge (£2.50) and centenary bowls stickers (50p a strip). Organisers are also hoping to scatter some balloons at the start.

Entries are up 17 per cent on last year for the ladies’ and men’s singles, ladies’ and men’s pairs, and the open triples, taking the total figure to more than 370.

Many players are relatively local, but the line-up includes an ex-pat Scot coming from Germany, two or three from Wales, some from the north and 22 entries from Houghton Regis BC, Dunstable.

The tournament will start with the ladies’ pairs and men’s pairs followed at 1.30pm by the preliminary round of the men’s singles.

The opening day’s play concludes with the first rounds of the men’s singles and open triples. Play will continue throughout the week with the finals next Saturday.