A bowling club is being forced to close down to make way for more profitable gym space.
Newcastle’s Eldon Leisure Centre bowlers are being turfed out after the city council decided it had no choice but to hand over the running of the site to a firm.
A modern ten-pin bowling lane is planned now for the space used at one point by more than 1,000 players.
The bowls club fought a long-running battle with the council, and managed to secure a two-year stay of execution while the site was sold on, but their time has come to an end. The club donated the last £600 in its account to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
Club Secretary Dave Conway, 66, said: “The council is saving money by handing the contract over to another group, who want to redevelop the whole centre, they want to make it a more profitable centre. They presented the council with a ‘take it or leave it’ option - that either we go and they get to make their changes or they just walk away - so we have been sacrificed for the sake of the whole centre. ”
Mr Conway said the decision to close the centre will “rob around about 130 male and female members of the bowls club of their enjoyment.”
Liz Luff from the Sir Bobby Foundation said: “This is obviously a sad time for members. We hope they’re all proud that by donating this money, their last act before disbanding the club, they will go on to help local people with cancer.”
Former club chairman Colin Davidson said: “We had 1,000 members back in 1976, but nothing stays the same. We have had a great community showing, we worked very, very hard to keep the place open, but like everything else these days the money matters.”
In a statement the council and North Country Leisure said: “Newcastle Council is in the process of transferring the ownership of Eldon Leisure, Gosforth Pool and Outer West Pool to the North East-based charity North Country Leisure (NCL).
"This will result in these centres remaining open and continued provision of a wide range of high quality physical activities and leisure facilities for residents in Newcastle. As part of this transfer, NCL has been examining different options to capitalise on the city centre location of Eldon Leisure and transform it into a region-leading family leisure destination.
"To enable this vision to become reality NCL will be converting the current indoor bowls hall, which takes up approximately 20% of the total area of the building but is only used by 3% of members, into an exciting new fitness and ten-pin bowling area.
“We understand the current users will be disappointed at the loss of this facility.”