History of Tenpin Bowling in the UK Part 51 – Excel Bowl Somborne Drive Leigh Park Havant Hampshire

By Tenpin Bowling Proprietors Association President John Ashbridge

Excel Bowl Somborne Drive Leigh Park Havant Hampshire

The Excel Bowl Havant, the fifth centre in the Excel chain, was officially opened on 13th August 1963 by the Chairman of Havant and Waterlooville UDC. The centre was equipped with 24 bowling lanes and machines supplied by AMF and also boasted a ground floor snack bar and club lounge on the first floor. The centre operated very successfully for a few years with a number of leagues and local events. Legend has it that the Beatles played the bowl early in their career after a concert at Portsmouth Guildhall. Many enquiries have failed to confirm this. However, by the mid- sixties and like many other centres, business levels were continuing to drop and in July 1967 the bowl was taken over by Humber Bowling Ltd.

It continued throughout the remaining 1960’s, and at some period in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s the centre suffered a bad fire in the machine area. It was closed for a period whilst repairs were completed and continued through 1970’s and into the eighties. At some point the entrance was moved from the side to the front of the building but in 1984 it was decided to close the centre. It is believed that after the pinspotters were removed the lanes were moved together to form a new floor for the building to become a Bingo Club. Crown Bingo, as it was to become known, was opened early in 1984 by actress and celebrity Diana Dors.