The ‘Mecca’ of crown green bowling, Blackpool’s Waterloo, is to reopen for business and for bowling in a month’s time.
Currently closed and undergoing refurbishment, the iconic South Shore venue will reopen its doors on June 4, with the adjacent green staging the Cliffs Classic just two days later.
When The Gazette revealed last week that long-time bowls manager Jim Parker had ended his association with the Waterloo and would be operating its traditional spring tournament at The Raikes, the whole future of bowling at the venue appeared in doubt.
But new proprietor Peter Flynn, who has taken out a 25-year lease on the pub and stadium with his business partner Nick Lowe, has pledged to stage a full programme of tournaments for the rest of the year, including the ladies’ and junior championships, a champion of champions event and the jewel in the crown that is the revered Waterloo Championship, the latter with record prize money of £15,000 (dependent upon entries).
Blackpool-born Flynn also runs the Tangerine Tavern on St Annes Road and has experience of staging bowling competitions, but nonetheless he has sought out expert advice in readiness for the challenge of the Waterloo.
Those on hand to offer their experience include the venue’s former bowls manager Steve Airey, Kirkham Classic organiser Richard Cochrane and five-time Waterloo champion Brian Duncan.
Considering all his treasured memories of the Waterloo, Duncan is as relieved as anyone to see the prestigious venue continue.
He told The Gazette: “It’s the Mecca of crown green and if goes, bowling goes. It’s the handicap everyone wants to win and the priority has to be to keep it going.
“I’m not sure it can recapture its former glories but it would be great to see entries back over a thousand.”
Flynn, who has been in regular contact with the British Crown Green Bowling Association and has its support, added: “We have to keep it going for the good of crown green bowling and we will be investing half a million pounds in the pub and stadium over three years.
“We’d have liked Jim Parker to have stayed on board with us and we thought we’d agreed a deal with him, but Jim has decided to move on and so the Waterloo must move forward too.
“We have increased the prize money and reduced the entrance fee and entries are welcome now.”
Flynn pointed out that anyone who entered this year’s Waterloo events through Parker would have to approach the new organisers and re-enter.
The autumn Waterloo gets under way on July 5.
There is room for 512 entries at £10 each.
The last 64 takes place on Saturday on September 14 - last 32 (September 16) last 16 (September 17) finals day (September 18)
Entry cheques should be payable to new Waterloo bowls.
Qualifying dates for the ladies’ Waterloo start on June 7.
The final is on September 15.
The event will take 128 entries at £10 each.
There is a new ladies’ pairs on August 11, taking 32 entries.
The Junior Waterloo takes place on August 18.
It is a one-day event and will take 64 entries.
All entries should be sent to Rick Cochrane, K and M Taxis, 20 Poulton Street, Kirkham, PR4 2AB.