Bournemouth Open Bowls Tournament History

How it all began

In 1908, Harry Miell, a member of Bournemouth Bowling Club, suggested holding an Open Tournament.  This idea was originally met with derision but, in March 1909, it was agreed that a tournament should go ahead at the club, with the title “The Bowling Championship of the South Coast”. 

The event was a singles competition which attracted 62 entrants, and was played only on Bournemouth’s green from Monday 9th to Friday 13th August 1909.


This was the beginning of the Bournemouth Open Bowls Tournament.

The Bournemouth & District Bowling Association adopted the tournament in 1910, when the event spread to four greens.  From then on the tournament became a firm fixture in the town’s bowling calendar, interrupted only by the two World Wars.

The ladies join in

For many years a ladies’ tournament was also held in Bournemouth, but through lack of entries and funding, had ceased to exist by the late 1990’s.

In 2005, Bournemouth & District were looking for ways to enhance the tournament.  At a meeting called to air suggestions, Sonia Dröge, then Secretary of Moordown Bowling Club, proposed that the tournament include ladies’ events.  This idea was accepted, and Moordown were asked to host ladies’ singles and pairs’ competitions.  Since then, Moordown has become the ‘home’ of the ladies’ events, which now include triples.


The tournament was organised by the Bournemouth & District Association until 2007, but, by then, it was heavily subsidised and the Association could not afford to continue with the event.  

In 2008 it was handed over to an independent committee, under the Chairmanship of Ron Barclay, former Association President and long-time supporter of the tournament.

Bowlaway came on board as the main tournament sponsor and have continued to sponsor the tournament up the 100th event in 2017.

In 2012, Coleman’s Insurance Brokers joined us as sponsors of the ladies’ tournament, with St James’s Place Wealth Management backing the mixed pairs.

Moving forward

2018 will see the 101st Tournament held in Bournemouth and the current committee, led by Mike Squires hope that some of the new faces seen last year for the 100th will be back again this year along with all our tournament regulars.

Entrants still come from far and wide to play on our greens during the first week of August – from Scotland to the Channel Islands, and Wales to East Anglia.  We can’t guarantee a week of unbroken sunshine, but we can promise a few days of fierce but friendly competition, good company and shared enthusiasm for the game of bowls.

We do hope you can join us.