Done an undercover assignment to the factory of Taylor Bowls. Anne Dunwoodie, who the PR and Marketing manager for Taylor Bowls and whom I met on my first Para-sports assignment, has kindly agreed to give me a tour of behind the scene of making bowls.
THE COMPANY “ A Brief History”
The Company was founded in 1796 under the name of James Taylor. In 1866 the name was changed to Thomas Taylor by the third generation proprietor.
It was initially a wood-turning business that listed, among its early products, wooden legs for the wounded of the Napoleonic Wars and musical instruments. Gradually the business of the company turned more towards the manufacture of bowling green bowls.
In the nineteenth century, when all bowls were shaped by hand to a template and consequently no two bowls were exactly alike, Thomas Taylor made and patented a machine for shaping bowls accurately.
To obtain absolute uniformity each set of bowls was made from the same log of lignum vitae and put through the shaping machine as a matched set of four.
In the same year that the shaping machine was invented – 1871 – the company also constructed the world’s first table for testing the bias of bowls.
The table had a slate bed, similar to that of a billiard table, which was covered with felt and canvas. The Test Table used at Taylors today is the largest in the world, being 31 feet long by twelve feet wide and although the surface has been improved to prevent tracking, the concept has changed little from the original table in 1871.
From 2001 the world wide standard surface adopted by the World Bowls Board for the testing of bowls is that which Taylor’s have been using for the past five years.
One notable improvement was made in 1998, and that was the Linear Delivery System (LDS). Rather than let bowls run down a ramp or chute onto the table surface, Taylor’s have developed the only Linear Motor powered system to propel the bowl onto the table similar to a human hand delivering the bowl on a green. This is carried out with repeatable accuracy.
Whilst the game of bowls was growing in popularity and spreading through the Empire, a problem was arising…..the wood, lignum vitae
which was an ideal material for bowls in cooler climates was not suitable for the conditions of hotter and drier climates. Also at this time the quality of lignum vitae was deteriorating and the supply of good heart wood was becoming scarce. A different material had to be found.
After much research a PHENOL-FORMALDEHYDE powder became the raw material for bowls.
This “composition” moulded and then machined into a bowl, proved to be the solution to both problems.
The company manufacturers its own mouldings in-house and machines them into bowls at this site. It also sells a small percentage of its mouldings to other bowls manufacturers.