By Tenpin Bowling Proprietors Association President John Ashbridge
Excel Bowl East Laith Gate Doncaster
The Excel bowl Doncaster opened with some aplomb on Wednesday 5th June 1963 when World War 2 hero Group Captain Douglas Bader CBE, DSO, DFC rolled the golden ball down lane 13. It had been planned for him to use lane 14, but when he noticed lane 13, he decided to use that instead and promptly scored a Strike. This broke the record previously set by the Mayor of Southend when he opened the first Excel Bowl in Southend. The Doncaster centre, which cost £200,000, was the third to be opened by Excel Bowling following those at Southend and Jarrow.
The centre was located at first floor level in the East Laith Gate shopping development and was equipped with 24 lanes and pinspotters supplied by AMF. It included a ‘quick-food’ service, a large club lounge with bar and a concourse that could accommodate 400 tournament bowlers and spectators. As for many centres at that time, the operation was initially very successful but towards the end of the 1960’s business levels had dropped away badly. It is not clear when the centre closed but it is believed to have been around late 1969 or early 1970.