Saved By Grant
A historic bowling club in Newcastle’s East End has staved off the threat of closure for a second time thanks to a vital grant from Byker Community Trust (BCT).
With its ageing grass cutter no longer up to the job and members struggling to raise the money to replace it, Byker Village Bowling Club faced possible closure with just eight years to go before its centenary. Now the club has been saved, thanks to a grant of £8,000 from BCT, which owns and manages the Byker Estate on behalf of residents.
The club was one of 13 local groups to benefit from the first round of BCT’s Participatory Budget Scheme, alongside organisations like Byker Community Centre, the Hat-Trick football project and Byker Sands Sure Start Centre.
Jill Haley, BCT’s Chief Executive, said: “Local groups are using the scheme to provide everything from children’s activities to apprenticeships, so it’s great to see our funding helping to secure the bowling club’s future as well. With this new equipment, the club can safeguard one of Byker’s oldest institutions as well as welcoming new members from different parts of the community.”
The grant paid for a new grass cutter, as well as storage equipment for the Headlam Street-based club.
“The new equipment is an absolute godsend,” said club secretary Alec Lamb, who lives on the estate. “We have to comply with national requirements from the English Bowls Association to compete in local leagues, and other teams often complained about the state of the green. The old grass cutter was second hand when we bought it eight years ago, and was constantly breaking.
“The club has been at Headlam Street since it was founded in 1922, so it would have been devastating to see it close because we couldn’t cut the grass properly. The estate was even demolished and rebuilt around us in the 1960s and 70s."
The club nearly closed two years ago due to City Council spending reductions, but members rallied round and took over the maintenance and running of the 92-year-old institution themselves. The members – whose well-stocked trophy room includes two consecutive Rington’s Cups and two veterans’ league titles – compete in four leagues around the North East.