By Tenpin Bowling Proprietors Association President John Ashbridge
The 32-lane Granada Bowl at Belle Vue, Manchester is believed to have been the first centre to be opened by Granada and the centre went on to become one of the most successful in the country.
The centre, built on the site of the Great Lake, was equipped with lanes and machines supplied by AMF and the rest of the centre was well appointed with a licensed bar and food operation. The centre was a joint operation between Granada and Belle Vue with two directors from each company on the board of Belle Vue Granada Bowl Limited.
The well-known, successful tenpin bowler of the day, Lee Kates was appointed as General Manager of the centre. The mark the opening ceremony Lee Kates, with the support of the band of the 8th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment and trumpeters of the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry, introduced Granada’s Mr Chapman, who made a short speech and welcomed the guests. The golden ball was handed to guest Pat Phoenix, star of the TV soap Coronation Street, to roll the first ball.
In the early days many leagues were formed, and the centre became known as a most welcoming venue for travelling leagues and the hosting of many tournaments. The Manchester Classics becoming a leading tournament team in the UK also.
The centre continued to be successful for about the next 30 years and during that time had become known as the GX Superbowl and owned by Granada Entertainments Ltd. centre was still listed in the 1994 edition of the World of Tenpin Guide to Bowling Centres in the UK and Ireland. It is believed that closure took place about this time and the centre was converted into a Bingo Hall.