Ilkley Bowling Club ends 96-year ban on women members

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A sign at the club
Image caption,
The club's 1,700 members were invited to vote on whether to admit women as full members

A bowls club has voted to overturn its 96-year-ban on women members.

Ladies had been strangers to Ilkley Bowling Club's hallowed green since it was founded in the Yorkshire spa town in 1924.

But on Tuesday night about 500 members voted, with almost 75% calling for women to finally be admitted.

Club member John Dobson said the result - greeted by a "joyous and jubilant" reaction - marked the end of the club's "dinosaur age".

Mr Dobson, 48, who joined about 20 years ago, voted in favour of the new rules.

"Times have changed," he said.

"Years ago women used to stay at home, now quite often women are doing more high-powered jobs than the fellas."

"Bringing ladies into the club is not going to change the club," Mr Dobson said.

"There's not going to be hundreds of women baying at the door every morning trying to come in."

Before the vote, women could only become "associate members".

This meant they could represent teams and visit the club bar at certain times as guests of men, according to the Yorkshire Post.

This was legal because private members' clubs are not governed by equality legislation.

In 2016, a club member told the BBC that people who did not like the rules should not join.

Image caption,
Following the change, priority will reportedly be given to the 500 women who are currently "associate members"

Mr Dobson said the change would make visiting bowling teams feel more welcome as well as allowing the club to host functions such as wakes.

"We have had members who have passed away and their families wanted to have a celebration of their lives at the place where they enjoyed so much of their time but it couldn't happen," he said.

The club's committee could not be reached for comment.

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