An historic bowling club in Fleetwood is applying for a vital cash grant to safeguard its future – and it is hoped local people can help.
The Strawberry Gardens Bowling Club, off Poulton Road, was established in 1848, making it one of the town’s oldest institutions of any sort.
However, the club is now in danger of collapse due to the severe dilapidation of the current bowls house (right).
The club has limited finances, so current members are trying to obtain funding to replace the building with an Inspired Facilities Grant from Sport England. Members are desperate for the bid to succeed and Fleetwood residents can help the bid by offering their names in support, demonstrating that the club is a valuable facility for the town.
Dave Walters, honorary secretary of the club, said: “This club has been an integral part of the lives of many local people for more than 165 years.
“But its future is in doubt because of the structural problem and we are desperate to save it.”
The oldest surviving member of the bowls club is Freddie Dell. Born in 1918, Freddie started playing bowls at the Strawberry Gardens in 1936, at the age of 18.
Working for the railways, oiling the fish wagons before they set off for Crewe and beyond, Freddie played twice a week on Thursdays and Saturdays in the local C&S league.
Freddie maintained the green for many years and remembers being paid 10 bob a week to cut the grass for the club by Bob Crewdson, the landlord of the Strawberry Gardens pub and a Blackpool FC player before the First World War.
The current building started life as stables before it changed use to the current bowl house many years ago.
In 1939, Mr Crewdson allowed the upper floor to be converted into a pigeon loft and this continued until 2014 when its use was given back to the bowlers.
But after a recent inspection, the top half of the building was deemed unsafe due to structural damage. The only option is to replace the building – and cash from Sport England would make that possible.
Anyone able to provide support in the form of a letter or email, headed “For the attention of Sport England”, can forward them to: Honorary secretary, Dave Walters, 35, Oak Street, Fleetwood, FY7 6TN or email: firstname.lastname@example.org Additionally, if people have any interesting stories or photographs regarding the bowls club, forward them to the secretary.
If the grant is successful, then there may also be an opportunity for other local groups to share the use of the building.