In 1977 Sunderland council embarked on building Crowtree Leisure Centre, at the time the centre had the largest one piece roof in Europe which during construction had to be jacked up onto the steel framework. After many months of meetings between bowling officials and council representatives an 8 rink indoor bowling arena was added to the second floor.

In November 1978 the Sunderland Indoor Bowling Club was founded, the official opening of the leisure centre was performed by HRH Prince Charles, HRH also delivered the first bowl on the newly completed indoor bowls hall.

The centre proved a big hit and was one of the most successful and popular centres in the country. The indoor bowls club was also proving extremely popular with the local bowls scene as it opened up with a mixed membership of over 1,000
After two years the administration of the indoor club was transferred from the centre staff to the elected club officials, it remained the same until the clubs final day in 2013.
Despite being based in a Local Authority run Leisure Centre the club invested its own funds into improving the bowls hall by replacing the underlay and the playing surface on two occasions and installed a spectator seating area, installing a soundproof wall which ran the length of the bowls hall.

In 2000 HM Queen Elizabeth awarded the town of Sunderland city status therefore to acknowledge the honour the bowls club changed its name to the City of Sunderland Indoor Bowling Club, the club had hoped to use the newly branded City coat of arms however due to council restrictions that was not possible so the club had to settle for just a name change instead.

The club continued to plough money into improving the venue and one of its last major investments was to pay for a £30,000 wood floor to be installed with the help of an interest free loan from the council -  the loan was paid back 6 months earlier than forecast. The new wood floor transformed the playing surface into one of the best in the region.

Sadly the Leisure Centre suffered a couple of heavy blows, first the Ice Rink was closed down due to water leaking into the shops below then on the back of the Council building a new Aquatic Swimming Arena the family orientated swimming pool was closed down. The club held several meetings with Council officials looking for assurance of the centres future although not given the club was given assurances that an alternative venue would be in place prior to closure.

Sadly the writing was on the wall for the centre and in November 2012 club officials were informed that the Local Authority was planning to close Crowtree Leisure Centre, after prolonged meetings with the Council the club were finally allowed to break the news during December 2012. An emergency meeting of the club members was held in February 2013 where 251 club members attended alongside the EIBA’s Stephen Rodwell - the Council declined an invite to the meeting. The members were stunned at the news that the centre was closing, in fact it was to close in just over 2 months’ time.

Sadly on 21st April 2013 the club's 34 year stay at Crowtree came to an end with no alternative in place.

Although like many other sports around the country bowls has seen a dip in membership and prior to closure of the Leisure Centre the club had a healthy mixed membership of 360 who contributed to a final season footfall of 18,000.

The sight of the centre being rapidly demolished was frustrating for the club members and within the space of weeks the centre was flattened. As yet the club is still no further forward in finding an alternative venue to re-develop but the image below is the painfull truth vision that the clubs members face.

This website is funded by the indoor club and still provides a service to the complete bowling faternity within the Sunderland area.



Site last updated : Tuesday October 2, 2018 6:28 PM