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Cheltenham's tenpin alley to close

By This is Gloucestershire  |  Posted: January 24, 2010

Cotswold Bowl

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​Tenpin bowlers in Cheltenham are mourning the loss of the town’s only alley.

Bosses at Cotswold Bowl have announced it will close at the end of February after 15 years.

Clubs that use the 24-lane alley, in Swindon Village, say they will be forced to fold or find another base.

Mary Halliwell, who has been playing in a bowling league since the alley opened, said players had been “gobsmacked” by the closure.

She said: “It is a terrible shame. For me, it’s my lifeline. I live on my own and it gets me out of the house. It’s a social thing more than anything else – 15 years is a long time to have given to one place.”

Mary said league members travelled from Tewkesbury, Worcester and Newent and bowling at the site was a regular social event for many older people.

She added: “There was talk of an alley going in The Brewery. We would desperately like somewhere else to play in Cheltenham.”

More than 10 leagues run at Cotswold Bowl, while the site has played host to countless charity events. A team of retired GCHQ workers also play there.

Cheltenham Mayor Lloyd Surgenor, who played at Cotswold Bowl for a Rotary Club fundraiser in October, said: “It is a great shame for people of all ages. This will be a loss of one of our leisure facilities. I imagine it is another victim of the economic downturn.”

Keen bowler Sam Lake had his 30th birthday at Cotswold Bowl last year and is a regular user of the facility.

He said: “I have never been there when it has been particularly busy, but I enjoy bowling and Cheltenham should have an alley.”

Bowling fanatics will have to travel to Gloucester or Stroud – their closest alleys.

John Westcott travels from Twyning to the alley every Wednesday to play for the Tewkesbury U3A team.

He said: “It will be a blow to the bowlers of Cheltenham. We were told the landowner wants to close it for redevelopment.”

Mr Westcott has been a keen bowler for the past four years.

He said: “I don’t know whether any protest could be made at this stage to keep it open.

“It is used by everyone. In half-term children go down there with their parents to play games.”

Fellow team member, Jill McIlhoney, said the team played all year around.

“It is a slot in our lives every week. We all look forward to meeting there and we have one member who is over 80,” she said.

“Just about all of us have bought our own balls and shoes, but we don’t really want to travel all the way to Gloucester.”

Cotswold Bowl managing director Ed Tippett did not want to comment.

Cheltenham bowling alley is set to close at the end of February.

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    Helen Donovaon, Evesham  |  February 20 2010, 10:09AM

    It is not just Cheltenham people who will lose out, we live in Evesham where we have very little for families and especially teenagers to do. We rely on Cheltenham for some much needed activities!! What a shame the alley is going - we will miss it a great deal. Even more reason to campaign for something (anything!) in Evesham!

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    Dan, cheltenham  |  January 29 2010, 7:22PM

    its a bowling alley....pretty sure chelt wont collapse without it!

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    Dave, Cheltenham  |  January 26 2010, 11:15PM

    I agree entirely with Pete letters 26/1. As we have seen previously with the Gallagher Retail Park it seems that landlords would rather have empty properties than work with existing tenants during this unprecedented economic climate. When we moved to Cheltenham 19 years ago we were delighted to hear that a Bowling Alley was to be opened in the town. Without doubt Ten Pin Bowling is a true family sport and we have enjoyed many happy times at the Cotswold Bowl with both our children and grandchildren. I now play in two leagues and whilst the sport affords me great personal pleasure it is also so nice to see people of all ages from toddlers to pensioners enjoying themselves in a safe environment without any abuse of drink or drugs. This is great shame for Cheltenham.

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    ****, Cheltenham  |  January 26 2010, 11:32AM

    I work at Cotswold bowl and I'm fed up of people being so selfish, ive had one person come up to me and say we are sorry your losing your job ! as for people being kicked out because they are not bowling, it is true, however that is due to the wrong type of people coming in and just causing a fuss, which is why what goes for one must go for all. And it is not by anyones choice that bowling is closing !

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    Dave, Cheltenham  |  January 25 2010, 1:47PM

    Saturday mornings was a time for young people to be taught how to bowl, and many afterwards ended up buying their own ball & shoes...to either join a league or bowl socially in the evenings,,,,what now for them????

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    Avid bowler., Cheltenham,  |  January 25 2010, 12:06PM

    Tricia & Susie I was bowling on Saturday night near to the group of people you are referring to it wasn't one or two that weren't bowling. There was at least 16 of them in there and only 5 bowled!! They were rude and abusive to the management staff when asked to leave, if I remember rightly one lad actually told her to P*** Off! I have friends who are members of the center and they pay they're memebership so that they can go in and use the bar, diner and pool etc. For people who aren't members you have to bowl. I see that as only fair, especially when you have groups of people like on saturday who overrun the center and crowd around the pool table and are a general nuisence. It is a bowling center, not a youth center. The girls were actually let back in, only to then contact more of their friends to join them, there ended up being about 20 youths in there. The only people being rude and disrespectful were the youths, not the staff! I have bowled here at least once a month for many years and have found the staff nothing but helpful and friendly. I will be sorry to see the center close. It is a shame the landlord of the property is so greedy.

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    David, cheltenham  |  January 25 2010, 10:02AM

    Reg, that hurt my feelings.

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    Reg, @Glos  |  January 24 2010, 9:34PM

    We don't know David where will you go ?

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    David, Cheltenham  |  January 24 2010, 8:56PM

    Oh No , where will all the Chav families with their chicken in a basket for Sunday lunch hang out now ?

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    fred smith, Gloster  |  January 24 2010, 6:50PM

    Did'nt they burn down the one they had in Gullster?