Community in shock at social club closure

PHOTO. KEVIN McGUINNESS.'St. Bede's Bowling Green, Clayton-le-Woods
PHOTO. KEVIN McGUINNESS.'St. Bede's Bowling Green, Clayton-le-Woods

A popular village club is to close within weeks.

Church bosses have taken the decision to shut St Bede’s Social Centre, Clayton-le-Woods, on August 5.

They said it was for “financial reasons”.

No plans have been put forward, but it is feared the site will be sold for new housing development.

The Brownley Street club, owned by the Liverpool Archdiocese, has been a busy venue for a wide variety of events and functions - such as christenings and weddings - for decades.

It is a particularly devastating blow for the bowling club that plays there.

It proudly celebrated its centenary just last year.

Members are desperately trying to save the club - which plays on the green next to the social club - but may have until just early September when their season ends.

There had been talk of the social club closing a few years ago due to a lack of cash.

But members thought it had picked up and been given a new lease of life until rumours circulated again some weeks ago.

Ward councillor Eric Bell said: “That used to be one of the best dance halls in Lancashire at one time.

“It used to be open on Sundays - they came from all over to St Bede’s.

“They, the church, said they wanted to knock it down years ago and build on it.

“I said I will be dead against it because we will be losing another bowling green.”

Coun Bell said the loss of the full size snooker table and events such as bowling and bingo would be a sad loss. “The elderly people will be upset,” he said.

Mike Torevell, chairman of the bowling club, said: “The official comment from the diocese is no decision has been made about the use of the bowling green. In the past at other clubs they have allowed them to finish their leagues season which is the first week in September.”

He said he hoped a new tenancy agreement could be reached. “We think we’ve got tenants rights. We’re hoping to keep going for at least six months as tenants with the diocese.”

President John Edgerley, a member for more than 30 years, said; “We have a feeling that the land is actually donated to the people of Whittle and Clayton one hundred years ago. We can run it ourselves. But they are probably going to sell the whole lot off for housing.

“Everybody is up in arms. We’ve played in the Chorley Churches League for fifty years and in the Leyland League. It affects a lot of people.”

A spokesman for the Liverpool Archdiocese said: “The club will close for financial reasons but the bowling club will continue for the moment.”