By Tenpin Bowling Proprietors Association President John Ashbridge
Top Rank Bowl Brook Street Chester
The history of the building which became the Top Rank Bowl in Chester dates back to 1931 when the Gaumont Palace Cinema opened 2nd March. The frontage of the building was ‘Mock Tudor’ in keeping with the Chester character with the foyer likened to an Italian palace. The cinema was equipped with just short of 2,000 seats, a grand Crompton organ and a well-appointed full restaurant – the Gaumont Palace was the only Chester cinema to have this facility. Largely unchanged during it’s life the cinema did hold live shows during the late 1950’s and into the sixties. The cinema’s 30ft deep stage was ideal for this. The cinema was closed on 9th December 1961 and converted into a 24 lane AMF equipped bowling centre, the first Top Rank centre to be so equipped. Legend has it that the Rank Organisation had intended to close the Odeon, not the Gaumont, but all too late realised their mistake, by which time too much demolition work had already been done.
The bowling centre opened on 8th July 1962 and is believed to have had a relatively short life, closing sometime during 1970, when the building was converted into a Bingo Hall.