Bowlers fear end of line at Tramways club

Members of the Pilrig club hold signs from the original tram system. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Members of the Pilrig club hold signs from the original tram system. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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A BOWLING club set up for tram workers is in danger of going off the rails after more than a century.

Fears that Tramways Bowling Club – which served ­drivers and engineers on the Capital’s original line dating back to 1888 – may be forced to close come four months after the launch of the £776 million modern network.

The Pilrig-based club was founded in 1902 and was opened by then Lord Provost Robert Maule.

But the historic club, which is among the oldest in ­Edinburgh, has been hit by dwindling membership and rising utility bills.

In its heyday there were as many as 160 members but now there are just 45 on the books, with a core of about 20 ageing regulars.

So dire is the situation that the committee believes only an influx of new members can save it. The club relies on membership fees and profits from the bar in the clubhouse to pay the bills and for the upkeep of the green.

Treasurer John Clark, 70, a member for 25 years, admitted closure was “imminent”.

He said: “There are so few members left that there is a great difficulty covering outgoings. It doesn’t matter whether it’s playing season or not – we still have to pay to maintain the green.

“We also have to pay insurance and utility bills. All our costs have gone up.”

He added: “Other clubs are in a similar position, not just bowling clubs. It’s a sign of the times.”

Secretary Stuart Watt predicted that the Rosslyn Crescent club may not survive its 113th year.

“The club has a long history with the people who worked on the trams many years ago,” he said.

“But the club is finding it ­difficult to stay open and in danger of closing which would be a tragedy for the members, many of whom are retired.”

Among those who would be left heartbroken by the club’s closure is its oldest member, 84-year-old William Leitch from Penicuik.

He said: “I like the camaraderie. It’s a good laugh. You play pool and bowls. That’s what draws me to it. What would I do if it closed? I would be devastated.”

Bob Hislop, 79, a former delivery driver for the Evening News who voluntarily runs the bar, added: “I like the ­comradeship and it keeps me occupied.”