Stewarton Bowling Club was officially opened on Wednesday, the 7th August, 1861. It was not until 1861, before Stewarton was granted burgh status, that this ancient game reached the bunnet toun.
However, even without the presence of a Provost and Town Councillors, Stewarton celebrated the opening of the newly formed green in grand style. That first green was constructed on the same piece of ground on which the present green exists and it included a small clubhouse, which still stands on the east side of the site.
In the local press for the week following, a comprehensive report of the whole affair appeared and we are indebted to Archie Chalmers for providing a copy of the report from which the following summary has been taken.
The green was described as being situated "in a very pleasant locality" of Avenue Street - Graham Terrace and Dunlop Street did not exist at this time - and the ground had been presented by John Cunnmghame Esq., of Lainshaw. Robert Mackie Esq., of Draffen had provided the turf. When the official opening took place on August 7th a deputation of Kilmarnock bowlers were present in the Railway Arms Inn at the Cross at 1 p.m. to help hansel the newly created green. After "a very neat speech" by David Provan Esq., of Lochridge and Wardhead the whole ensemble marched, accompanied "by the instrumental band," up to the green.
Unfortunately, after a few ends had been played by the Stewarton and Kilmarnock bowlers, it rained and play was abandoned. The company retraced their marching steps to the Railway Arms where a public dinner was served at 4 p.m. by the host Mr Hamilton. Afterwards, following "the usual loyal and patriotic toasts", the success of Stewarton Bowling green was wished by A. E. McKnight, Advocate of Edinburgh. The newly formed Stewarton Bowling club was presented with a medal, by the Kilmarnock Bowlers, which is still in the possession of the club and is now used as the President’s badge of office. It is reported that 14 toasts were proposed ensuring that all appropriate people and bodies were thanked. ( Not much change there!!!)
Early Success and a Downturn
All this occurred a long time ago and those original Stewarton bowlers would have no idea what they had started and what was to follow; like a Stewarton rink winning the Scottish Championship at Queen's Park in 1907. Nor could they have imagined the future ups and downs of the club for, although most of the intervening years have been successful, there was a time in the 1950's when the membership was falling and the financial position was bad.
Things Getting Better
Things were looking better in the sixties and seventies when the old club not only survived but revived. This was due to the huge increase in the local population and a new interest in the game everywhere. It was not merely an old man's game anymore but a pleasant pastime for all age groups, from juniors through middle age to the senior members of the club - and the ladies too have contributed greatly to the success of Stewarton Bowling Club.
It was during this period of transition that the clubhouse was extended (twice) and refurbished and a drinks license was obtained helping to create a social atmosphere on the premises at the same time contributing immensely to the club's financial position.