Dumbarton Associated Bowling Clubs

DABC BadgeThe Dumbarton Associated Bowling Clubs (DABC) is an association of all the clubs in our area. It was formed in 1896 after the County Cup competition had been running since 1873. The founding committee included the ex-provost of Dumbarton, J.Babtie J.P. and the owner of the Lennox Herald newspaper, William Thompson. Originally there were only four members but over the years the membership expanded to the present ten clubs. In addition to the annual County and Scottish Championship games these clubs compete in several of their own Competitions.

The badge pictured was specially designed in 1996 for the centenary of the Dumbarton Associated Clubs by Jim Tennent of the Vale of Leven Bowling Club. It depicts Dumbarton's crest, the Elephant and Castle, the Fountain in Alexandria and the "Monument" in Renton.

Member Clubs of the Dumbarton Associated Bowling Clubs

Argyle Bowling Club: Argyle Park, Alexandria

Argyll Bowling Club BadgeArgyll Bowls StickerThe Argyle bowling club is the youngest club in the association, being founded as late as 1963. Originally a public green under the control of the District Council Parks Department it was invited to join the Municipal Scottish Bowling Association. It remained as a MSBA member until 1984. In 1985 it was accepted for membership of the Scottish Bowling Association (SBA).

In the early years the Argyle was seen as a nursery for the other bigger clubs in the area. Quite a few of the Vale BC's weel kent faces started their bowling careers at the Argyle. More recently a large and stable membership has allowed them to develop their own identity within the DABC and they have had increasing success in the competitions. In 2011 they opened an impressive new clubhouse on the same site.

Brock Bowling Club: Crosslet Road, Dumbarton

Brock BC badgeBrock BC stickerThe Brock bowling club was founded in 1948 as the Blackburn Aircraft Factory Welfare Bowling Club. This was a factory that had been set up as part of the war effort but post war was adapted to the manufacture of prefabricated metal housing units, fondly remembered in the area as "the Aluminiums". When the factory closed the club adopted the name of Brock as a tribute to Mrs. Willox, their patron, who previously had been married to Walter Brock Junior of Levenford House.

In 2011 the original Crosslet Road site of the Brock Bowling Club was purchased by West Dunbartonshire Council as they required it to build the new Dumbarton Academy. As part of the deal it was agreed that a new clubhouse and bowling green would be built on another site for the Brock BC. The new clubhouse was built on spare land adjacent to Dumbarton Common, in Broadmeadows and opened in 2012.

Dixon Bowling Club: Helenslee Road, Levengrove, Dumbarton

Dixon BC badgeDixon BC bowls stickerThe Dixon Bowling club was founded in 1888 after permission was obtained from Major Robert Dixon to use the ground at the derelict Levengrove Quarry. They opened an impressive new clubhouse in 1956 and at that time they were one of the innovative clubs in the area. Their new clubhouse includes a large function hall and they were one of the first to install an effective floodlighting system. The "Dixon Floodlight" was for a number of years a very popular local tournament.

In recent times (and like most other bowling clubs clubs) membership at the Dixon has fallen but they continue to compete even with their lower membership. It is worth mentioning that the Vale BC have had an annual friendly match with the Dixon for well over one hundred years.

Dumbarton Bowling Club: 12 St Mary's Way Dumbarton

Dumbarton BC badgeDumbarton BC bowls sticker

Like the Vale, Dumbarton BC have two greens and they are by far the oldest of the clubs in the Association. Having been formed way back in 1832 they will soon be looking forward to their bi-centenary celebrations. They have been at their present location since 1859. The present clubhouse, when opened in 1923. was one of the largest in the country.

As well as being one of the most competitive clubs in the area Dumbarton have traditionally supplied many DABC and County administrators and officials. From 1910 to 1983 the Hon President of the Dunbartonshire County Association was a Dumbarton BC member. Ernie Johnson of Dumbarton won both the Scottish and the British singles titles in 1961. In more recent times young Kevin Anderson won the Scottish Junior singles followed by the UK. He then went on to win the Scottish Singles before accepting a post as a professional at Broadbeach Bowling Club in Queensland, Australia. The Vale had a keenly contested annual "friendly" match with Dumbarton for many years but this, unfortunately is no more. Once more this is a result of declining membership.

Dumbarton Rock Bowling Club: Pier Esplanade, Castle Road, Dumbarton

Rock BC badgeRock BC bowls stickerThe "Rock" was founded in 1883. It enjoys an enviable setting right underneath Dumbarton's Castle Rock and there is no more picturesque place to play bowls on a fine summer's day. We'll say no more about wet and windy days! In recent years they have provided many players to the county team, not least Andy McGrandle and Graeme Sloan who were capped for Scotland.


Dumbuck Bowling Club: Glasgow Road Dumbarton

Dumbuck BC badgeDumbuck BC bowls stickerDumbuck Bowling Club is another club whose roots are in industry. The green was originally created in the late 1920's for the employees of the engineering company, Babcock and Wilcox. The green at that time did not meet the regulation size standard but in 1948 it was extended and the club was then accepted as a full member of the SBA.

The lack of a bar and the better facilities offered by some of the other clubs meant that Dumbuck also operated as a feeder club for the others in the association. With the new millennium Dumbuck BC enjoyed a resurgence in their associated club's performances and In 2013 they rebuilt their clubhouse on the same site. The new clubhouse now includes a bar and their membership holds up well.

Eastfield Bowling Club: 127 Glasgow Road, Dumbarton

Eastfile BC badgeEastfield BC bowls stickerEastfield Bowling Club was founded in 1900 by a group of men from the Newtown area of Dumbarton.

The original clubhouse was replaced by a modern structure in 1978. This offers an excellent view of play on the green. Eastfield are another very competitive club who supply several players to the county team.


Renton Bowling Club: Carman Road, Renton, West Dunbartonshire

Renton BC badgeRenton BC bowls stickerOur neighbour and old rival club "The Renton" was founded the year before the Vale in 1866. They never let us forget this but they have seldom been in front of us since! But seriously, they opened an new clubhouse in 1965 with excellent facilities including possibly the largest function hall in the area. In 1988 the members constructed a new locker room in a separate building on the site of the original clubhouse. They are a strong, competitive club who also provide several county players. Each year we have an annual friendly match with "The Renton" for the Lomond cup. While quite a few drams are sunk before, during and after play this is a serious and very keenly contested game.

The seniors also contest the Carman Cup each year. This is a two leg game, played home and away, with the winner being the highest in the aggregate scores . This is always a popular fixture on the Vale's Senior bowler's calendar.

Townend Bowling Club: Doveholm, Dumbarton

Townend BC badgeTownend BC bowls stickerTownend Bowling was founded in 1897 and built on the site of an old scrapyard near the Barloan Toll. Like the other clubs they also replaced their original clubhouse. The present modern clubhouse was built in 1969.

The Vale also has a long-standing annual friendly with Townend. In recent years Townend have struggled to retain their members but they continue to fulfil their commitments and fixtures.


Vale of Leven Bowling Club: Middleton Street, Alexandria, West Dunbartonshire

The Big Green! What more can I say?

In recent years there has been a significant reduction in membership of clubs and not just bowling clubs, all clubs are affected. Many golf clubs are also struggling in the face of competition from the Internet, computer games and couch potato related activities. It is difficult to see any light on the horizon and most bowling clubs in the UK will have to pull in their belts in order to survive.

It is worth commenting on the fact that the three clubs outside Dumbarton (Vale, Renton and Argyle), while not exactly booming, have been doing a bit better than the Dumbarton clubs with respect to membership. This is mainly due to the rise in population in the Vale and Balloch over the last few years. The Vale of Leven and Balloch, which supports only three clubs is comparable in population to Dumbarton with seven clubs. At the time of writing, all of the clubs in the Association now have vacancies as opposed to waiting lists. We must all do our best to promote our game to the outside world and, in particular, to the younger people who need to be brought into the game to safeguard the future.

Dumbarton Associated Bowling Clubs' Trophies

In addition to the Scottish and Dunbartonshire County championships, the clubs in our Association participate in a number of competitions throughout the bowling season. We are in a very competitive district and we are fortunate to have this amount of competition. Most of the other associations don't enjoy competitive Saturday matches like ours.

These are no friendlies. They are all competitive matches in which the best players available for each club are selected. The esteem in which they are held is evident in the liquid celebrations that take place in most of the winning clubs when the results are announced.

A list of the trophies follows.

Burgh Cup

The Burgh Cup was donated by Baillie William Henderson of Dumbarton in 1892 when it was competed for by the Dumbarton, Westonlee and Dumbarton Rock clubs. The format of the competition has changed several times over the years but it seems to have now settled into a single day, eight rinks per club competition where each clubs play all the other clubs bar one over 21 ends. Like most of the other competitions the scores are aggregated on points and shots to determine the winner. When the space on the original cup was exhausted a new cup was presented by the Association in 1967.

Peter Denny Trophies

The original Peter Denny trophy was donated by Peter Denny LLD in 1894 and retained by the first person to win it three times. While the trophy is now competed for in perpetuity it has been replaced again twice. We are now on trophy number 6. This is a knock-out, single handed tournament with open entry from any player in the associated clubs. It is played on all the greens throughout the season. The final is generally played on the same day as our Champion of Champions.

William Denny Shield

Donated by the Trustees of the late William Denny who had died in 1897 and competed for in the same way as the Burgh cup.

China Cup

he Association is fortunate to be the owners and custodians of such a fine example of the art of the Silversmith. Some local sea-going engineers who spent some time in China during the early 1900's and collectively known as the "Dumbarton Boys" made a generous donation of the trophy to the bowlers back home. This was to be played for in a rinks competition and it now takes the same format as the Burgh cup, etc.

Taylor Cup

This trophy was donated by John Taylor M.P. O.B.E. in 1919. A match had been held between the Dumbarton and Clydebank Associations in 1918 and, since this was to become an annual event the cup was presented for this competition. The trophy is now the joint property of the two associations.

Wooden Spoon

The Wooden Spoon remains a bit of an enigma. The donor made it a condition of acceptance that that no name be attached to it so no one knows who donated it. There is also some doubt about when it was first awarded but it has been going since 1928. This is traditionally awarded to the club finishing at the wrong end of table of aggregated scores at the end of the season. Since the Vale and Renton bowling Clubs became full members of the Association in 1975 neither has "won" the spoon.

Kirkwood Bowl

This silver bowl was donated by another MP, David Kirkwood, whose parliamentary career spanned 30 years. Once again played to the same format as the Burgh Cup.

Champion of Champions

In 1954 it was decided that a play-off competition be introduced for the club champions. The then local Blackburn Aircraft Factory donated a fine trophy. In 1981, the space for inscription having been exhausted, the association replaced this. It is worth noting that in 2004, when it was won my James McCarry, the Vale of Leven Bowling Club recorded only their third victory in this tournament in 51 years of play. the other two winners were A. McPherson in 1964 and J.H.P. Weir in 1980. Must do better!

League Pennant

The McLeod League Pennant was presented to the Association by Provost Alan McLeod in 1956. It has been played under several formats over the years but it now takes place on Monday evenings during the season, with games taking place at home and away.

Ballantine Shield

Local Whisky company, Hiram Walker Ltd. donated a shield for an inter-club pairs competition. This competition normally takes place on a Monday evening when eight pairs from each club play against eight of the other clubs over 17 ends.

Cutty Sark Shield/Sid Walter Triples

With the increase in the popularity of triples competition in the late sixties it was recognised that an Associated Clubs Triples Competition would be a worthy addition to the calendar. Allied Distillers donated a shield as a trophy and sponsored this competition for a few years. In 1989 a Clydebank busineesman, Syd Walters, donated a new trophy. The competition follows the same format as the Burgh cup and was recently switched from a Monday evening to a Saturday afternoon.

Strathleven Bowl

The then local company, J.B. Scotland Ltd. donated a trophy in 1975. Such was the appetite for inter-club competition in the ares that another fours competitions was introduced to the existing program without disruption. This is played on a Saturday afternoon and follows the Burgh Cup format.

Norrie Stephen Memorial Trophy

As a tribute to one of the most respected officials who gave service to the local Association subscriptions were invited from the clubs and individually from his many friends and a fund created, which allowed a trophy bearing his name to be introduced in the 1989 season. This too follows the Burgh Cup format. It is worth mentioning that Norrie's brother Jack was a long standing member, director and past President of the Vale.

Polaroid Cup

Since the inroduction of the Wooden Spoon around 1929 this was the only trophy awarded for aggregates in all competitions, albeit at the wrong end of the results. The donation of a trophy by another local company, Polaroid (UK) Ltd. allowed the Association to award the club with the best aggregated annual performance in the Burgh Cup, William Denny Shield, China Cup, Kirkwood Bowl, Ballantine Bowl, Syd Walters Trophy, Strathleven Bowl and the Norrie Stephen Trophy. Most club members consider this to be a more accurate reflection on the season's performance than the League Pennant.

Acknowledgement: Some of the information on this page was taken from the book, which was published in 1996 to commemorate the first 100 years of Dumbarton Associated Clubs. Our thanks are due to those who contributed to the original publication.

Note: If any of the local clubs would like to send in website links, suitable pictures and perhaps a promotional statement to augment the information above please do so and we will  consider them for addition to this page.

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