Victorian London - Entertainment and Recreation - Sport - Bowls


The annexed illustration will vividly portray to the reader's imagination the magnificent American Bowling Saloon lately opened in the Strand, near the Adelphi Theatre, for the purpose of introducing to the public of London the game of bowling as it is played in America. The game is in some respects similar to the common game of bowls. The alley in which the game is played consists if a narrow platform of timber, elevated three or four inches above the floor, along which the bowls are rolled by he players towards the pins, of which there are ten, set up in a triangular figure, the apex being nearest to the player. The bowls, after being delivered by the players, are returned by means of an inclined groove or channel in which they are placed by a boy who attends to set up the pins, and along which they roll to the top of the alley merely by their own weight. As an amusement requiring less physical power than the vulgar game of skittles, and possessing the attraction of bowls, in an elegantly fitted-up saloon, this game will unquestionably become popular in a city like London, where the opportunities for invigorating exercise are so rarely afforded to the inhabitants. The decorations of the interior are in the Louis Quatorze style, and have been executed with extraordinary taste: indeed, nothing can exceed the luxurious elegance which everywhere meets the eye—mirrors, candelabra, vases, rich carpets and couches, and costly furniture, form only a portion of the numerous accessories to quiet enjoyment or healthful exercise which this place affords.

Penny Illustrated News, 1849

see also George Sala in Daylight and Gaslight - click here

    In the town, bowling alleys were abolished in the last century, and gave rise to long-bowling, or bowling in a narrow inclosure at nine-pins upon a square frame. They have been succeeded by the American bowling-alley, sometimes in the cellar of the tavern.

John Timbs, Curiosities of London, 1867 edition