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.