Bowling Alley Walks are the oldest of the walks in Dorchester as they are mentioned in Municipal Records as far back as 1635, many years before the walks as we know them today were basically created between 1700 and 1712. An entry of 20th January 1635/36 refers to the inhabitants of Fordington having made a common trade way over 'Bowling Alley' with horses carts and carriages. We also know that during the Civil War (1642-1651) the embankments of the old roman wall were reinforced with 'forty two men and six boys being employed to build fortifications'. The 'Bowling Alley' is mentioned in a number of Municipal records over the years. On 12th Feb 1650 mention is made of a lease of Widow Woods in the 'Bowling Alley'. |
On 26th Feb 1716, which is after the embankments had been levelled, the Mayor (i.e. the Corporation) entered into a 99 year lease with a John Watts junior, a limeburner by trade, that "he shall enjoy the herbage of the 'West Walk', commonly called the 'Bowling Green', and the 'South Walk', all which walks are within the ditches of the Borough. John Watts undertaking to keep the trees in good order, without shrouding, lopping or topping any of them, and plant new trees in the room of those that decay, and keep the banks and fences in repair, or feed any cattle upon the walks that will injure or disorder the ground, or hinder any person from walking in the said walks".
Dated October 1903 (left) and circa 1906 (right)
Part of a private postcard collection © Copyright Mr. M Russell OPC for Dorchester
Sources:- Municipal Records of Dorchester by CH Mayo Pages lxii; 489, 692, 702. Fire from heaven by david Underdown page199.