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Wednesday, 27 May 2015

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Row breaks out over closure of Carlisle's Edenside bowls club

The normally sedate world of bowls has been rocked by a bitter row over the controversial closure of Carlisle’s Edenside club.

Judy Armstrong photo
Judy Armstrong

Former England international Judy Armstrong is among a band of club members who are furious at the decision to wind up the club, which was founded in 1898.

Members of Edenside, which sits on the banks of the River Eden in Stanwix, voted at an extraordinary general meeting last Friday to wind up the club, blaming the devastation caused by the floods for its heartbreaking decision.

The decision was prompted by concerns that the club, which has twice seen its pavilion wrecked by floods in the last five years, may not be able to get insurance if the river bursts its banks again.

On top of that, membership has fallen to 70 players – 100 less than 20 years ago.

But feelings are running high over the decision, which was passed by 31 votes to 29, and some members say the towel has been thrown in too readily.

Mrs Armstrong, 69, has been a member for 36 years and has been left devastated by the closure of the club, which holds special memories, not only because her late husband played there, but also because representing Edenside led to her being picked for England.

“In less than two hours, 112 years of history were thrown away,” she said. “I am bitterly disappointed at the members who voted to close the club. It has been a lifeline to me and so many people have had so much pleasure out of the club.

“It was flooded five years ago and with a lot of work from members and insurance money we got it up and running again. It was flooded again in the last floods in November and unfortunately the majority of people decided it wasn’t worth the effort. If it is flooded again we would go down the pan then but there is no need to close the club now because it is still viable.

“It’s very sad because there were people willing to have a go to save it. A lot of people are very, very upset. The decision is too hasty.

“There was no provision for proxy votes or postal votes and some of the people who didn’t want it to stay open had no intention of playing outside this summer. There were no abstentions but why vote if you have no intention of playing?”

The club suffered £50,000 of damage to the green and pavilion in the 2005 floods and was also engulfed by floods in November last year.

Treasurer Michael Watson said fears that Edenside, which leases its premises from neighbouring Carlisle Cricket club, would not be able to get insurance cover for future flood damage meant the writing was on the wall.