By June Parkin
Secretary, Barnard Castle Bowling Club, and The Bowes Museum volunteer
In April 1918 conscription was extended to men up to age 51, so great was the toll that the war had taken on the armed forces. There was also pressure on those who had been exempt from military service for reasons of conscientious objection, medical reasons or protected employment. One of those exempted was Frederick Charles Dalgarno, the Park Superintendent at The Bowes Museum. Mr Dalgarno, a Fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society, joined the Museum staff in 1909 and was responsible for laying out the grounds, including the excellent bowling green. He was a founder member of Barnard Castle Bowling Club in 1910.
The ‘Mercury’ of October 24th 1917 reported that a tribunal had heard Dalgarno’s appeal for continued exemption from military service. These tribunals were made up of local dignitaries, tending to support the appeal, and a military representative who, anxious to augment the supply of recruits, generally pressed for rejection.
In this case, the evidence produced was that Mr. Dalgarno, then aged 41, lectured to local groups to increase the production of fruit and vegetables. Also, produce from the Museum’s gardens had been distributed to 130 poor people. Mr Waine stated that Mr Dalgarno “was of more use in the national interest in his present situation than he would be in the army”. Temporary exemption was granted until the following May, with the military representative asserting that he would appeal against the decision. The ‘Mercury’ of 21st November reported the result from the Durham County Appeal Tribunal. The military appeal was dismissed and Frederick Dalgarno was appointed horticultural representative under the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries for the Rural District of Startforth, his work being to organise cottage gardening and food production.
Mr Dalgarno continued to serve the community until his retirement in September 1929 after 23½ years as Park Superintendent. He was also a band leader and performed in local concerts as well as at the bandstand in the Museum grounds. The appreciation in the ‘Mercury’ said that the bowling green he laid out was “now considered one of the finest in the country.” The same can be said today and Frederick Dalgarno would be proud of the talented team of members who maintain such a high standard of care.
The bowling season opens on Saturday April 7th carrying on a long-standing town tradition.