By Tenpin Bowling Proprietors Association President John Ashbridge
Fairlanes Bowl Sicey Avenue Firth Park Sheffield
The last but one of the Fairlanes bowling centres to open in the UK was the Firth Park Bowl, Sheffield which opened on 13th December 1963 by sixties singer Shelia Buxton. It was a 24-lane centre equipped with lanes and machines supplied by AMF. It is unclear how long the centre operated under Fairlanes ownership but, it is believed, to have been owned by a company known as Angallan Bowling by late June 1964.
It later became part of Phoenix Bowling and by 1967 it was managed by Humber Bowling Ltd. The centre became fully part of the Humber Bowling operation when it was taken over early in 1970. The centre continued to operate successfully during the 1970’s and into the 1980’s. Many leagues were formed and maintained during this period together with the hosting of successful tournaments. Sheffield was the first UK centre to get computer scoring in 1983. The centre was also the venue of the first British Open Championships when, that most prestigious of tournaments, was first started by Gordon ‘Jock’ Caie of Humber Bowling.
The first perfect 300 game by a female was rolled at Firth Park when British international Gina Wardle hit twelve strikes bowling off the wrong foot, She would later win the British Open and a place in the UK Tenpin Hall of Fame.
In the late 80’s the centre was fully refurbished which benefited the business very much and it was continually operated successful by AMF Humber Bowling until ownership changed to Garland Leisure Ltd about November 2010 and the centre was renamed 1st Bowl. This continued until late 2013 when Garland Leisure was rebranded to become MFA Bowling and the centre became known as the MFA Bowl.
The centre continued to operate until June 2018 when, without warning, it was closed on 6th.
Total number of Centres and lanes in the UK at end of 1963
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