Timber bowls reminder of sport?s past
By Steve Spinks
Joan Gibson Gibson and Viv Ross believe their family may hold the oldest piece of sporting equipment on the Northern Rivers.
Gibson and Ross are the great-granddaughters of one of the founding members of the Ballina Bowling Club, Hugh Gibson.
They felt compelled to come forward when they read the story about Steve Bartlett and his grand-father's Wyrallah rugby cap that dated back to 1910.
The Gibson family donated two wooden bowls owned by Hugh to the Ballina club in the 1990s.
A plaque on the two bowls says they were presented to Hugh Gibson in 1910.
However, Joan and Viv believe they may have been bowls that Hugh used previous to that date.
"He was one of the first bowlers in the district," Joan Gibson said.
"He had the first bowling green in Ballina in the backyard of his house in Bentinck street.
"The bowls could have been used as early as 1904."
According to Mrs Ross, Hugh's wife Ann was a real lady, who used to take great delight in preparing afternoon tea for the bowlers.
She also enjoyed bowls and often recruited friends to come and have a game.
By 1909 the Ballina Bowling Club had been formed and was established on its present site.
Hugh Gibson became the foundation president and later life-member and the first green was named in his honour.
It seems bowls runs in the Gibson family.
Hugh's son John and his grandson Clarence were both veteran bowlers.
Even Joan Gibson's son, Ben Gibson-Christensen, who is only 11, is often on the greens having a roll.