Help secure future of bowling at Eastville Park - by getting involved

January 03 2020
Help secure future of bowling at Eastville Park - by getting involved

THE FUTURE of Eastville Park Bowling Club looks back on target - months after a decision to disband.

The club's committee decided to fold due to falling membership and lack of take up for essential roles such as chair, secretary and treasurer.

It also followed a policy by Bristol City Council not to prop up clubs based in parks but to  ensure they are self suffient.

Due to falling membership and an increase in the cost of maintaining the facililties, especially the green, the club looked unlikely to stay afloat.

But now Friends of Eastville Park are looking at ways to keep the club going by examining how it can be opened to more members of the community in order to make it pay for itself.

The Friends had previousy worked closely with the club by launching a recruitment drive to enable it to stay above water for at least another season.

This achieved some success but numbers weren't high enough to secure a long-term future.

The Friends felt strongly the park should not lose the facility as bowls have been played there for more than 100 years.

Members are currently in discussions with the council to look for a way forward to enable the club to have a more secure future.

Friends volunteer and keen bowler Justin Quinnell said: “We want to keep bowling at Eastville Park as part of the community.

We will definitely be running this year but we need people to come along and be involved. Bowling is a great game especially on a slow summer's afternoon. We want to have a community bowling approach so there's also something for families.

We are still looking at how to structure it and how to pay for it because bowling greens cost a lot to keep going.

Although we are sure we can go for another year, we are hoping that this will be the beginning of something very big and very unique.”

Justin said part of the issue in attracting new people is that bowling has a reputation of being for old people.

It's seen as something older people do – and it is – but it's also something that everybody can do, of all different ages and abilities, or disabilities.

We don't want to lose the formal white events, as they're a mad tradition and are fun to watch, but we also want to open it up to everyone. This means traditional bowling would become a small part of a community bowling hub, for children and adults.

We're already getting a lot of new people involved and they're a complete mixture from a punk guitarist to football team members to graphic designers.”

The club was originally called Whitehall Bowling Club but changed to Whitehall Eastvillians before reverting to Eastville Park Bowling Club, a name used around 45 years ago.

Justin said: “It's an amazing sport and is a very addictive game. It's certainly not just for the elderly. Bowling used to be huge but since the cuts it's been one of those things where we have to look at creative ways to enable us to pay for the cost of maintaining the green. It's difficult to attract new members but we're going to try. It's too special a place and activity to lose.”

Anyone who has any ideas or would like to find out about membership, should sign up to the Friends of Eastville Park on Facebook.