Bowlers hit by blow of second club closure

Keith Robertson at the club grounds at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. Picture: Greg Macvean
Keith Robertson at the club grounds at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. Picture: Greg Macvean
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THE news must have hit with the force of a tournament winning strike.

The Capital’s bowling community has been dealt a fresh blow – after a club was told it must close to make way for new hospital facilities.

Tipperlinn Bowling Club, which is based on the site of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital (REH), has been told members will have to leave the premises by December as work to enhance the hospital gets under way.

It comes less than a week after it was confirmed Edinburgh Leisure would pull the plug on Portobello Indoor Bowls and Leisure Centre, the only facility in the city where non-members could play.

Members of the club were stunned as they claim that they had long been reassured if they had to relocate they would be moved to a new premises.

President Keith Robertson said: “The club is going to fight this. We’ve members who have been here since the club was founded and some of them actually helped build the place.

“I have looked at the plans for the new hospital and in place of the bowling club they want to have a garden, but someone else heard from a member of hospital staff that a psychiatric ward was going to be built there.”

Mr Robertson said the club had already been put on a year-to-year lease by the NHS. The 52-year-old, from Firrhill, said it was yet another blow for the bowling community following the decision to close Portobello.

He said: “Scotland is most likely the best nation in the world when it comes to bowling. I used to say it was an old man’s sport, but I played it once and I was hooked – that was 30 years ago.”

Tipperlinn Bowling Club officially opened in 1972 but the facility started much earlier in 1962 when the Royal Edinburgh decided to provide a long-term recreational facility for patients and staff.

The club is also home to the Edinburgh Civil Service Chess Club.

Chairman Sandy Powell said: “We’re pretty devastated, but we’re hoping we can beat this – it’s very difficult to find new premises in Edinburgh. We had been sent a letter from NHS Lothian reassuring us that in the future if we had to close we would be relocated somewhere else in the grounds but now we have been told that doesn’t mean anything.

“It seems like the people who are making the decisions don’t know anything about the history of the club.”

The club has about 44 members and 30 social club ­members.

David Small, chairman of the REH project management board, NHS Lothian, said: “The Tipperlinn Bowling Club has operated on our hospital site for many years, rent free.

“However, the lease agreement has always been renewed on a non-permanent, annual basis.

“We’re sorry for any inconvenience to the bowling club members, but our land is needed as part of the plans for the first phase and overall redevelopment of the site.”