Ernest Wilson Obituary 

Village mourns the passing of Ernest Wilson

Remembered foremost for his role in bringing bowls to Bishop Monkton

Ernest Wilson, whose passing we mourn, was a village stalwart who played a major part in village life and will be particularly remembered for the role he played in bringing bowling to Bishop Monkton and masterminding the creation of a highly successful club here.

Ernest was born and brought up in Batley, West Yorkshire. He attended the local school before moving with his family to West Bromwich where he met Barbara, who was to become his wife, at the local Methodist Church Youth Club

.He continued his studies at the technical college studying electrical engineering, qualified and joined the local electricity board.

He and Barbara married in March 1952, but he was almost immediately posted to Egypt as part of his National Service where he served as a sergeant in the REME, until he was demobilised in 1953. 

He re-joined what later became the Midlands Electricity Board, becoming a Fellow of the Institute of Engineering and Technology, and over the succeeding years made a series of career moves to electricity boards in Bedford, Ipswich, Lowestoft and Bury St Edwards, eventually retiring in 1990.

It was during this phase of his life that he became a very enthusiastic and successful bowls player. In fact he was so keen on the game that he built a bowling lawn in his own back garden (not many people can claim that!)

He and Barbara knew they wanted to retire to Yorkshire, but had no idea where to settle. It was their local Minister, The Revd. Dr Donald Boyes, who had previously served in Bishop Monkton, who recommended that they should come here.

Ernest insisted he wanted to be in a community where he could continue to play bowls. Bishop Monkton failed on that score, having no bowling lawn, but Ernest was keen to assist in overcoming this obstacle!

At this time the village was embroiled in discussions about building a new Village Hall and also creating a playing field on the site it had acquired.

A steering committee for the proposed bowls club had been formed and in moving to the village, Ernest joined this committee and very shortly afterwards was made chairman.  

Not everyone thought a bowling club was a good idea. It was going to cost £50,000 and some thought the money could be spent better on other projects. One villager said the club would be a ‘white elephant’. One contractor said the project would never get off the ground because the ground would flood. 

But Ernest fought his corner, and eventually persuaded those in charge that his pet project should go ahead and everyone now agrees they made a very good decision. The ‘white elephant’ claim was quickly scotched when 67 people enrolled in the first year the club was founded, and a sound drainage system that was installed meant that the grounds never flooded.

Ernest was the club’s Chairman and first Captain, with Gerald Shervington as the first Secretary and Peter Garside as Treasurer. Soon afterwards Barbara took over the role of Secretary.The club, with its excellent ground, joined two men’s Leagues and one ladies League, and over the years has been one of the most successful clubs in the area (see Basil Birchall’s accompanying report).

The Bowling Club was the first sports club to open on Bishop Monkton Playing fields. That was in 2003, two years before the new Village Hall opened.

Ernest was also involved in helping work on the new Hall and, not surprisingly, undertook a lot of the electrical installation work which he shared with Steve Oates and Mick Hogan He also took his turn at decorating the interior. 

Ernest remained as Chairman of the Bowling Club,with Barbara as Secretary until about three years ago when he stepped down, then being elevated to the role of Hon President.

But bowling was not Ernest’s sole preoccupation. He was also a model railway enthusiast and built himself a gauge ‘00’ model railway track, creating a small town, criss-crossed it with railway tracks, and, of course, including its own bowling lawn!

He built the track on a large suspended platform which was hung on chains in his garage, and could be lifted and lowered to put Ernest in charge of the network when the mood took him –which was very often! 

Ernest also turned his hand to other pursuits. He was a keen gardener, and also enjoyed model making, and was particularly pleased with two large rocking horses he created.

Ernest had been unwell for several years and was moved to hospital after breaking his hip in a fall, and it was here that he died on Tuesday, April 14th. He is survived by Barbara, a son, Jonathan, and a granddaughter, nine-year-old Daisy

There will be a service at Harrogate Cremation for family and close friends only at 10.20am on Monday, May 11, which will be followed by a thanksgiving service for Ernest’s life at 11 30am at Bishop Monkton Chapel. Rodney Wilson will be conducting proceedings at both services. Afterwards there will be reception at the Village Hall

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Bowlers will always be grateful to Ernest, the ‘Father’ of our wonderful club

A tribute by Basil Birchall, Bowling Club Captain


Here are a few words to emphasise how important Ernest Wilson was to the Bishop Monkton Bowling Club.

Ernest had played bowls to a high standard for many years before he came to live in Bishop Monkton. Having arrived here he played in a very successful Ripon team during the summer and during the winter months was a founder member of Harrogate Indoor Bowling Club.

Ernest had a dream! Bishop Monkton should have a Bowling Club with its own green .It took a lot of persuasion to the Village Hall and Playing Fields Committee that was in its 'embryo stage' that we should install the Bowling Green before the Village Hall itself! Particularly when the cost was some £50,000.

Apart from Ernest none of us in the village had played bowls before so all potential players had to learn what is was all about. We had coaching sessions when the green was completed and gradually came to terms with the games and its etiquette. 

Ernest had overseen the development of the green-with a result that we had probably the finest green in the district.

A committee was formed with Ernest as its Chairman and Captain (with his wife Barbara as Secretary) and we joined the Dalesman League for the men  and the Harrogate Ladies League for the ladies. Within two years of starting we won the Dalesman League and had a full list of friendly matches in which we were able to 'blood' newcomers to the game. 

Ernest continued as Chairman and Captain until 2011 when he became Hon President but he still was a most active player and contributor to the Club. He could look back, having gained us entry into the Bateson Mixed Triples League which we have now won twice - a job well done.

Ernest was without doubt the 'Father' of this Club and everyone who plays on this super green should be grateful of his determination and endeavour to give the village this invaluable facility.

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Other tributes

From Joan and Jerry Metcalfe.

We arrived here about the same time as Ernest and Barbara about 20 years ago and have been firm friends ever since,joining the Methodist Church together although we came from Suffolk we had not met before.

We both saw  service in Egypt at the same time time in 1951 and shared the joys of that together more recently as you might imagine!

We helped in the church when we could, one occasion I remember when the  church was having new carpets fitted we rather boldly removed all the pew doors and cut half an inch from the bottom of  each one not really thinking whether they would work as before.Happily I don't think any but the most curious noticed any change!

We joined the club on its formation and have enjoyed it ever since.Ernest will be a great loss to us all.
Joan & Gerry 

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