There are two bowling greens both at the north end of the park, but neither was present when it opened in 1894. No bowling greens were shown on the 1900 Ordnance Survey map, but it was in late 1904 that the Parks Committee decided that a green be constructed on a site between the pavilion and the Waterloo Road boundary wall. The cost including jacks and bowls was to be about £50. This green had been constructed by March 1905, and in September the Parks Committee decided to extend it at a cost of about £59. At the same meeting it was agreed that a shelter be constructed nearby to keep the bowls when not in use.
In September 1907 it was reported that an additional green was needed to meet demand and the Parks Committee decided that this be constructed near the Friars Road entrance, at an estimated cost of £65. In 1909 it was decided that a shelter containing lockers be erected alongside this green, and that the green itself be extended. The following year it was reported that the green had been constructed on made-up ground that had sunk in parts, and no drainage had been provided. Remedial work was estimated to cost about £95. Levelling with clinker and ashes had been completed by November 1910.
Receipts, year by year reported in the Parks Committee minutes were:
The 1920 Ordnance Survey map shows that there was a bowling green beside the Friars Road Lodge, next to the tree avenue leading to the ornamental fountain, and another green by the Waterloo Road entrance and close to the pavilion.
The green near the pavilion (actually beside the Friars Road boundary) was originally a practice bowling green, but in September 1913 the Parks Committee agreed to extend it to be suitable for match play, at a cost of about £27. In May 1924 the Committee granted a request from the Belle Vue Pavilion Bowling Club for permission to erect a flag staff near the pavilion green to be able to fly their club flag on match days.
For the green at the Friars Road entrance the Parks Committee agreed in May 1925 to provide lavatories for a sum not exceeding £50 and in August it was decided to extend this green at a cost of £60.
In June 1933 the Committee visited Belle Vue Park. It agreed that a new bowling green near the Friars Road entrance be constructed and that an additional entrance for pedestrians be made near the site. It was also agreed that new glasshouses be built on part of the site of the former pavilion bowling green, the remainder to be laid out as a rest garden. In April 1934 the new bowling green was nearly ready and the Committee agreed that the Mayor be asked to open it on the 28th April at 3pm.
The Western Mail gave the following history of the bowling greens:
"One of the first public bowling greens in South Wales was that in Belle Vue Park Newport and it was certainly the most beautifully situated. It was on the
highest point of the park, nicely secluded, with magnificent views over the Bristol Channel.
But it was not of regulation size, and some 20 or so years ago a new green was prepared on a site just within the Friars-road entrance to the park. Here the Belle Vue Club has played ever since. The old green was practically unused for a time, but it remained available to the public, and soon after the war it began to be patronised by people who did not belong to clubs and by beginners.
Friendships were made, and four or five years ago a new club was formed. This club has proved remarkably successful, but as it began to get matches and as it began to enter various competitions it found, as the Belle Vue Club had found years before, that the green was not adequate owing to its being short one way.
The parks committee was appealed to and was sympathetic. At first it was thought that the green might be enlarged, and the club members concerned were hopeful on that score because of the peculiar charm of the site, but after due consideration the committee decided that such a scheme would not meet all requirements, and that it would be better, and more economical in the end, to construct an entirely new green.
A site was chosen next to the newer green, and the work has been in progress throughout the winter.
The situation is an excellent one convenient to two of the park entrances. The green is up-to-date in all details, is charmingly surrounded with rhododrendrons, etc, and fine views are offered to the players. A new pavilion is to be erected to serve the two greens.
The original green will now disappear. Part of the site will be given up to glasshouses for potting, etc., and a part will be laid out with terraces as a rest or sun garden."
The green was was formally opened by the Mayor, Councillor F. J. Humphries on Saturday 28th April. The Mayor said that the green had cost £400 of which 75% had been expended on labour. The work had been carried out entirely by the acting Borough Engineer Mr William C. West, the Parks Superintendent Mr J. E. Tindale and their staffs. It was announced that the green would not be played on for a month.
In April 1935 a contract for the construction of a new bowls pavilion was awarded to Mr F. C. Parfitt at his tendered price of £727. In September the Parks Committee agreed that work be carried out immediately to alter and re-construct the original bowling green at the Friars Road entrance.[18 In October it was reported that the bowls pavilion was complete apart from some minor details.Installation of an oak hand rail on the steps to the bowling greens was agreed at a cost of £11 in July 1937.
The 1930s OS map shows the two greens in their new positions - side by side near the Friars Road entrance and against the boundary with Friars Road, their present day location. (Also on the 1930s map, greenhouses are shown in the space previously occupied by the bowling green known as the pavilion green, the site of the modern day car park.)
Over the winter of 1946-47 the green on the west side of the bowls pavilion was reconstructed. In December 1946 it was reported to be ready for turfing but that weather conditions had delayed the cutting of new turf and in view of this and other difficulties the opening of the bowling season at the park in 1947 would be delayed.
In 1970 the Leisure Services Committee agreed to accept a tender from I. A. MacLean for £3,331-18s-0d to build an extension to the bowls pavilion.
Sources of Information