Previously we have reported on the problems at the Waterloo BC at Blackpool and things don't seem to be getting much better with the battle on to save this iconic bowling venue. A £100,000 fund-raising exercise is underway but will that be enough and is there time to save the site and retain it for future generations of crown green bowlers?
The latest posting on the Official Facebook Page for Waterloo BC added this week says ....
As we move into 2021 I thought it best to let everyone know where we are up to currently.
Obviously things are getting delayed in general terms - as Covid is still with us in a big way.
We have a meeting at The Waterloo this Friday with the structural guy we've found - Ricky has had a number of meetings with him already - this is the guy who will sign off the works that are to be undertaken to get the stadium into a position where a) it can be signed off for use by the owner and b) it can be insured, as that will be a condition of the lease the owner will give us.
Two issues now face us:
First issue - before we start works (and start spending money that people have either kindly pledged or has been raised via the 50/50 draw) - we have to be as confident as we can be that the budget we have available will get us to the finishing line in terms of the works that are required. We do now have £75K available - it is a fantastic achievement to have raised that.
The second issue is that, of course, none of us know how long Covid is going to be here for, what restrictions are going to be in place, for how long - and how that might hinder us operating/playing at The Waterloo through 2021 and beyond. We are also mindful of that before we commit a large amount of money to the project.
The good news is that I spoke to the owner again in December and all the indications at the moment is that he will be as flexible as we need him to be on timescales - which suits us currently.
The support for the 50/50 draw has been fantastic - if you can, please keep that going. The money raised isn't going anywhere and will sit in our account until we've all agreed on the way forward with the stadium.
We add two previous extracts from two sources outline the problems facing the new committee overseeing the future of the Waterloo bowling green at Blackpool - the 'Wembley of Bowling'. Major structural problems have been uncovered requiring immediate closure of some part of the surrounds. The resignation of the previous committee followed by the expiring of the ground lease has complicated the recovery plans. This is how the Bowls Observer and the Blackpool Gazette have reported the ongoing situation and also how you can support the team hoping to rescue the Waterloo.
Of the crown green bowls events and venues, none has got near to the Waterloo Bowling Green in Blackpool. It is only at the Waterloo have thousands of spectators been safely looked after whilst watching the finest the sport has to offer. However unless an urgent appeal for funds is supported, and essential safety work completed, then the venue will almost certainly close.
The Waterloo Handicap was once a regular on TV screens and is thought of by many as the most prestigious trophy the sport has to offer. The venue is also regularly used by the sport’s national governing body (BCGBA) for its events. For anyone wanting to see some of the amazing games that have broadcast from the Waterloo then I recommend you go to either the Bowls Observer or to Andy Cairn’s YouTube channels.
Last season’s Waterloo Handicap finals day, was thought to be one of the finest in living memory and the competition claimed a first-time winner in Congleton’s Paul Dale following on from Lynsey Gorman’s success in the Ladies event on the previous Sunday. The legendary Champions weekend in September saw Colin Kelly claim the men’s title for the Isle of Man and the Ladies event was suspended due to the green flooding and the players left in it will reassemble in 2021.
With the almost total abandonment of this year’s bowling season the Waterloo Management Committee has provided regular updates from the Waterloo, on the condition of the site, as they try to secure its future. From the early agreement with the owner of a new 10-year lease to the disturbing report on the structural issues identified in safety reports. It has all been made quite open to the visitors of the Waterloo Facebook page.
The repair of the structural problems facing the site will be costly and preliminary costs come to £60,000. The essential work covers all sides of the green and is mainly due to the apparent corrosive effect of the sea air on steel. The survey of the North Stand, where the competition is run from and the scoreboards are used, has found the supporting steel-work is beyond repair. The entire stand will need to be demolished, complicated by substantial asbestos sheeting, and a decision made on whether some sort of replacement stand is possible.
The East Stand was demolished last year following damaged guttering caused water damage to the wooden supports but damage was also caused to the wall behind it has meant that this should be rebuilt. The South Stand, the terracing where many first experienced the Waterloo Finals Day, needs the steel barriers, just about all of them, replacing. The exterior cladding which faces the car park should also be replaced.
The West Stand, the newest part of the venue was built in the 1980’s by the then owners Greenall Whitley, and was built to seat over 900 spectators also needs the steelwork to either side replacing. The building which holds the office and shop has a gantry used by anyone filming the bowls, a small hole in the gantry has been stepped over for years, and this and the rest of the supporting steelwork needs to be replaced.
There may also be more funds need if extra problems are found if and when the work is started and the funds required dwarf the resources available to the Waterloo Management Committee who took over responsibility for the site shortly before last year’s finals week. The Waterloo Committee has in the last few months launched a successful monthly 50/50 raffle which is projected to provide an income of over £1500 per month. If anyone would like details on how to join this please contact Phil McVittie (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The committee has also welcomed the campaign started by Lynn Pritchatt which has so far attracted donations of over £11,000 in a little over 6 days. Lynn has also sought help from the national governing body who unfortunately are not able to provide financial support to an individual club or green. Lynn is also seeking support for a change in the funding of the sport’s governing body which would ensure funds are available in future to assist the Waterloo and depending on how the rule change is worded could also assist other venues.
This will require a change to the constitution of the BCGBA and will need the agreement of its member counties and some of them may have passed their own date where changes can be proposed. However, with the changes we have all had this year, as we negotiate around a global pandemic and with the recent indications that we are heading into a restricted autumn and winter, there is surely some doubt if the normal, or indeed any, national meeting could take place.
What is definitely not in doubt is the need for the Waterloo to raise the funds to complete the urgent essential work. If anyone can help or knows anyone who can help with the work please contact the Waterloo Committee or click here.
Thursday, 23rd April 2020
Having already cancelled spring competitions at the iconic South Shore venue due to the coronavirus outbreak, the management committee has now decided to call off the most prestigious event on its calendar, the Autumn Waterloo, won last year by Paul Dale. The decision also frees the committee to focus attention on the structural work which is necessary to the stadium’s survival and the question of how to fund this.
A statement by the ‘Waterloo Team’, headed by Ricky Cochrane, reads: “We last updated you in March, when we cancelled the spring tournaments and outlined what we needed to do to get the autumn tournaments on, which was quite a lot – both in getting to the bottom of the structural work that the owner is insisting is completed as well as getting a new lease in place.
“Covid-19 has obviously got in the way of that and our view now is that we should cancel all bowling for 2020 and focus on getting everything done for spring 2021, resuming then. “It’s a real shame but we think it is for the best to make an early decision and let everybody know, so if we are out of lockdown by the autumn people who perhaps would normally come to the Waterloo can make other arrangements for breaks/holidays etc.
“We also understand that the British Crown Green Bowling Association are reviewing whether the men’s and ladies’ champion of champions tournaments will be able to run this year, so these tournaments are not certain to take place.” As for the structural work, the statement adds: “When we do get to the bottom of the work required and the agreed cost, this will need funding. “In simple terms, if we can’t fund it, we won’t be able to do the work and are unlikely to be able to continue bowling at the facility. "When you see the accounts (due to be published over the coming week), you will see that there will not be enough money in the pot to fund the likely cost of this work. “So once we have a firm number, any good ideas as to how that sum might be raised would be very welcome. “And once we hopefully all get back to normal, we’d be delighted to hear from any bowlers with a business that could undertake any of the jobs.”
The team also welcome any volunteers who could help with the running of future bowling events at the venue.
A public appeal for funding to assist the rebuilding of the Waterloo infrastructure has been launched. The target is to raise £100,000 to support this aim and to date over £16,000 has been raised through their GoFundMe campaign although they are reporting a total of over £75,000 collected altogether. A 50-50 Monthly Draw has been established and this is proving to be a real boost to funds. The entry fee is £10 per month and if you would like to help then the links to both opportunities are below.