A BOWLING club which opened its doors over 96 years ago is urging people to come and have a go at the sport.

St Martin's Bowling Club was first opened on May 24, 1924, after an agreement had been signed with Mitchell & Butler`s Brewery.

The green was located at the Greyhound Dog pub, which was situated adjacent to where the entrance to the Asda development is now.

It was a welcome addition to the community living south of the Wye who had very few leisure facilities.

The period between the wars saw bowling take off and breweries saw the investment in a bowling green as a good way to generate income.

They would have a bowls team just as they would for darts or quoits.

The club was largely patronised by local businessmen so matches took place in the evenings or on a Thursday afternoon which was recognised as 'half day closing' in Hereford for many years.

In 1958 the ladies section was formed and they had use of the green on Tuesday and Thursday. They brought a domestic element to the club.

As the 80's began a decade of uncertainty followed, the relationship between bowlers and the new landlord reached a new low as a result of a demand for a rent of £12,000 per year.

At one point the green was actually barricaded to stop bowlers having access, but the problem was soon resolved after the landlord's dog bit the then President Frank Harwood and a sensible amount was agreed for the rent, but relations with the landlord were never quite the same.

The club's committee had the foresight to secure a clause in the local development plan that a bowling green had to be provided by any developer on or near the existing site.

After much discussion and argument the club achieved a new purpose-built green and clubhouse courtesy of Asda, which with the help of their nest egg fund, assistance from Hereford City Council and Herefordshire Council along with a lottery award they equipped and fitted out, including an automatic watering system and permanent floodlighting.

The clubroom has space for two shortmat bowls mats to be laid out enabling competitive bowls all year round.

The grand reopening took place on May 21, 2016.

"Bowls in this area is not really strong and we are lucky to have a club of about 53 members," said senior member Paul Kennett.

"We want to get people to come and have a go, not many turn around and walk away once they have.

"Bowling has got an image that it's a bit stuffy, but that is no longer the case.

"There the social aspect to bowls as we have got a good family feeling at the club and for some people who live on their own it is a place to go and have a chat.

"For those who can't play some sports or run then bowls is perfect for gentle exercise. In a typical game I might walk down the green over 40 times.

"The problem is getting people down to the club. It's not a game that is growing in numbers which is a shame as it's a great game, but it's getting people to see that.

"Come and have a go, you don't need to wear whites as we've knocked that on the head and it's a casual dress.

"We have around 80 fixtures a year and half of those are friendlies where we encourage everybody to play."