North Cheshire Family Historian
The Bowling Contest
by Ray Hulley
Picture the scene. The autumn mists had covered the
valleys with a light grey blanket and the cows were huddled together
against the cold chill. The sheep had sought the shelter of lower
pastures to avoid the wintry blasts that blew straight through their
thick overcoats on the hills. There was no sign of any domestic
animals - they had commandeered the warmest spot in the house long
In Macclesfield town centre the picture was quite
different. The shops were aglow with their latest displays and although
it was early evening, there were still plenty of window shoppers
braving the cold evening. The windows of the Bate Hall Hotel in
Jordangate were brightly lit and the sound of clinking glasses,
happy laughter and excited chatter came from the public rooms. It
was 22nd October and the night of the cup final - the one occasion
that every indoor bowling fan from miles around had waited for over
the past 3 months. The Macclesfield Bowl was crammed to full capacity,
with the supporters of each side - Butley Rangers and Poynton Wanderers
- eagerly shouting for their own sides and favourite players in
The match, which was the final of the North-East
Cheshire Amateur Bowling Challenge Cup, was a local derby and a
very heated affair. Each group of supporters had thrown insults
at each other during the entire proceedings and the effects of alcohol
had gradually been getting more apparent as the night wore on. The
result was in doubt right up to the last end, and it took a final
shot by Butley to settle the match. This last minute decider was
the last straw for Poynton. After the judge, Richard Normansell,
had declared Butley Rangers the winners, Richard Hurst jumped over
the small barrier separating the protagonists and made a dive for
Thomas Addle of Butley, the nearest 'enemy' to him. Immediately
this galvanised all the other Butley and Poynton men into action
and the place was in mayhem for several minutes until the local
constables, Laurence Hulley, Roger Broster and Thomas Etchells,
sorted out the battle and separated the fighters.
"What I want to know is, who is going to pay
for the damage to all my furniture?" said Roger Falowes, the
owner of the Bowl. "Seats and tables don't come cheap, you
know. This is the last time I'll allow this match to be held in
my place - there's too much at stake and it just isn't worth it.
It was the same last year with Sutton Rollers and Dukinfield Throwers
and I should have learnt my lesson then. Talk about being a service
to the community - trouble is the community won't damn well pay
for all the damage when it is caused by their own drunken hooligans."
"We can't interfere with what is a civil matter, Mr. Falowes"
said constable Hulley, "We have to take our friend Hurst down
to the station and nick him for being drunk and disorderly. I suggest
you get the money from him - if he's got any left after Peter Legh
and John Andrew have finished with him in court tomorrow morning,
While we're on about court matters, Mr. Falowes,
perhaps you could just let us have sight of your bowling licence.
It will save us time when we do the writing up for the case".
Roger Falowes suddenly looked worried and splattered
"It' s - it's around somewhere - I saw it only last week when
I was checking the stock. When I find it, I'll drop it in to you".
Constable Etchells eyed him suspiciously, but didn't offer any comment
in view of the situation. Besides, he didn't want to sort out another
battle - this time with an irate, red-faced six-footer built like
a brick outhouse.
The night quickly enveloped all those hardy souls
leaving the Bowl and the Bate Hall Hotel, where John Stopford the
landlord, was busying himself with the cleaning up before putting
all the lights out. Another good night's trade, he thought; roll
on the next bowling final! The last of the Poynton supporters (except
Richard Hurst) disappeared towards Bollington on the way back to
the warmth of their homes. The resident owl on St. Michael's church
gave one more forlorn hoot before swooping into his belfry nest.
The October night was cold and still; the dark clouds raced across
the full moon and Macclesfield was asleep at last.
When did this tale unfold? - last year? 1990? Did
it actually happen? The following entries from the Macclesfield
Portmote of the Borough Court Rolls of 1548 and 1555 will help to
convince the doubtful reader.
1-2 Edward 8 (1547 - 1548)
The xxii day of October Ryc Hurste (xiijd) of Poynton
made affre of Thomas Addle of Buttlay at the bowling alley.
(Richard Hurst was fined one shilling) (Public Office reference
SC2 313/9 membrane 16)
1-2 to 1-3 Philip and Mary (1554 - 1555)
Item we do fynd Roger Falowes for kyping of one
bowlying allye unlawfullye.
(Public Record Office reference SC2 314/1 membrane 14)
Richard Normansel of Bollington, Laurence Hulley
of Dynes mosse, Roger Broster of Sutton, Thomas Etchles, Peter
Legh and John Andrew also appeared in the same Court during this
The moral to this tale is that, with a little imagination,
the past can easily be brought back to life. Family historians who
search through reams and reams of registers, rolls, depositions
and all kinds of written documents have exceptional opportunities
to re-live the past. This has been my small contribution to uncovering
two minor events in the history of Macclesfield and district and
hopefully will encourage other to follow suit. All it needs is a
The above material is Crown Copyright and is reproduced
with the permission of the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery
Copyright © 2000-2022 Ray Hulley. All rights reserved.