History of Tenpin Bowling in the UK Part 69A – Excel Bowl Barker Gate Nottingham

By John Ashbridge, Tenpin Bowling Proprietors Association President

History was made when this centre was opened by Excel Bowling on 2nd March 1964. It was Excel’s 11th centre and with 48 lanes and machines supplied by AMF it became, not only the largest centre in the UK, but also the largest in Europe. The 48 lanes were accommodated equally on two floors. Initially the centre was very successful with many leagues being formed as well as becoming a centre to host many tournaments.

Due to the high number of lanes, it was possible to host tournaments on the top floor, without interfering with open play which was taken care of on the ground floor lanes. This continued successfully for several years but, due to the declining interest in tenpin bowling at the time, the centre was taken over by Humber Bowling Ltd in July 1969.

During the next fifteen years, whilst there were some difficult times, Humber Bowling ran the centre successfully. This included a combination of well supported leagues, the hosting of a variety of tournaments and a good level of open play.

In 1983 the centre became the home of the very successful British Open Tournament. This tournament, when started by Humber Bowling, was held for the first- two years at Firth Park Bowl Sheffield, but due to its success a larger centre was required.

Sometime in the mid 1980’s the centre was completely modernised which included much more customer focussed bar and food services and offers. The result was to see a huge increase in patronage which helped to set the standard for the future of tenpin bowling in the UK.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is nottingham-reopening-2-705x1024.jpeg

The centre was continually operated successfully 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. A further change occurred in March 2019 when the centre was purchased by Disco Bowling, which was a new company to tenpin bowling who totally renovated the tired looking centre and installed String Machines making it the largest string centre in Europe.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is nottingham.jpg