Rolling the Jack Into Year 99

On a recent visit to the Yokohama Archives of History to read the old newspapers, our historian Mike Galbraith stumbled across the following in a report detailing the February 1922 YC&AC AGM:

The green proving not only too small but being irregular in shape, has been rebuilt to a full-sized square green, and, weather permitting, should be ready for play by the end of May next [ed. means 1922].

This documentary evidence, supported by rare photographs of the first pavilion at Yaguchidai following its collapse after the earthquake of 1923—viewed as it is over an immaculately configured lawn bowls green—confirms that YC&AC was the first venue in Japan to have a green conforming to international rules. 

It also means we have a party to look forward to: 2022 will be the 100th anniversary of lawn bowls proper at our Club!

The first pavilion at Yaguchidai, viewed over Japan’s first full-size lawn bowls green, 1924 (the pavilion collapsed in the ’24 aftershock) PHOTO COPYRIGHT YC&AC
The second pavilion at Yaguchidai viewed over the same green, 1925 PHOTO COPYRIGHT YC&AC

By coincidence, another historical “discovery” of sorts was made a few weeks ago when a certain member of the Club’s staff went about polishing some of the old trophies. One of the ornaments to which our man applied his elbow grease turned out to be a magnificent lawn bowls trophy, an old Nations Cup shield!

The “International Lawn Bowls Trophy” “Presented by W.H. Helm & D.J. Helm”

Typically for YC&AC, the shield is missing records, in this case for the years 1972–1984, but it is still a thing of rare beauty. The first winners, in 1955—conceivably the first Nations Cup in the postwar period—were “Born in Japan,” a fours team featuring the very famous Yokohama names of Walter and Don Helm (see Yokohama Yankee), Bucky Harris and a certain G.E. Beatty.

As we head into the 2021 lawn bowls season, ninety-nine years after the first-full size green was installed at YC&AC, the sport at our historic Club is still going strong.

Alex Hendy

For more information about the history of lawn bowls at YC&AC, visit the “About” and “Videos & Printed Matter” pages of this website.

Non-members interested in playing lawn bowls or any other sport at YC&AC are encouraged to write to for details about how to join the Club.

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