Ilkley Bowling Club vote to admit women as members for the first time in almost 100 years
The 1,700 members of Ilkley Bowling Club were invited to an extraordinary general meeting at King's Hall on Tuesday night to participate in a ballot on the contentious issue.
The club was founded in the early 1920s and has never allowed women to join, although they can represent bowls teams and visit the bar at certain times as guests of men.
This week, 506 members turned out and 377 of them were in favour of admitting women - ensuring the two-thirds majority required was reached. There were 129 votes against the motion.
Voting was held over two sessions from 6.30pm, with a declaration at 10pm back in the clubhouse, where members had retired to.
The result means that women can apply for full membership of the club from July 1.
Priority will be given to around 500 women who currently have 'associate' status - mainly team players and members' spouses.
Currently, the main bar area - where a pint of beer costs less than £2 - is an entirely male preserve on weekdays and women are permitted to drink as associates after 5pm from Friday-Sunday and on bank holidays. These hours are likely to be extended ahead of July 1.
Between 10 and 15 per cent of the active bowls players at the club are female and they may enter the bar during matches to purchase drinks, which they must then consume outside.
There are other areas of the premises that women may use, such as the lounge, and female bar staff are employed.
Club secretary Richard Bell posted notice of the vote on behalf of the committee as 'the world has changed'.
"We are pleased - the members have made their decision and it is now a new chapter in the club's history. The committee was unanimously behind the motion and it is the right thing to do.
"Applications will be dealt with in a sensible, controlled manner. We are all volunteers and the adminstrative burden is quite a sizeable one.
"I am delighted that a club that started when several people had the foresight to purchase a piece of land in Ilkley has developed from a tin hut and a green into a modern club with over 1,700 members and now likely to grow to 2,000.
"Women have always been welcome, but they now have equal rights to men."