Historic Mansfield Bowling Club facing financial crisis

Published: July 28, 2011

IT is the end of an era – 91 years of outdoor bowling at the Mansfield Bowling Club is set to end after the summer season as the club look to slash their running costs.

The club, based in Croftdown Road since 1920, have decided that with just 30 full-time outdoor members they can no longer afford the upkeep of the pristine lawn they use for tournaments.

They have also revealed that they are in talks with a property company to redevelop areas of the site to help find over £2million for what they say is much-needed renovation and maintenance.

The bowling club tried three years ago to build nine houses in the car park of their Dartmouth Park home – but backed down in the face of stiff opposition from neighbours and because of the credit crunch.

But now finance director Adrian Pruss has revealed he and the board have met with developers and Camden Council’s planning department to work out what sort of new housing project would be possible.

He added that if a money-making scheme was not worked out, it could ultimately mean the closure sale of the club.

Mr Pruss said: “Losing the outdoor green is an end of an era and our members are very sad about this, but it hard to keep it going without more members.”

The club still has large indoor bowling facilities and will be using them for tournaments.

Currently it costs around £2,500 a year to maintain the green, paid for by the goodwill of volunteers. But the bigger picture is one of year-on-year falling membership and a struggle to make ends meet.

To bring in extra money, a new jazz club is starting on Sunday, and the club rents out car park space as storage for the Town Hall’s contractors Apollo, who are renovating homes near by.

They also rent out the club’s kitchens to a catering company and are hoping more people will hire their function room.

But Mr Pruss says even with more funds and new members, the shortfall is such that a redevelopment project to lose some of the land but keep the club going is the best option.

No plans have yet been finalised and no application has been put into the council.