What’s happening in the UK bowling Industry?

A great place to find out the latest news about everything happening in the UK bowling industry is the Go Tenpin Facebook page.

All the new planned and built centres appear there plus news from the Tenpin Proprietors Association members.

The TBPA was formed in 1961, in response to the rapid development of tenpin bowling in the UK. Since then they have grown considerably as an organisation and are now firmly established as the trade association for the tenpin bowling industry in Great Britain. Their aim is to represent the interests of our members whilst promoting tenpin bowling and raising its profile throughout the country.

Their current member companies have a combined total of over 3,700 bowling lanes in the UK and through implementing their codes of practise aim to offer a high level of customer service and bowling experience.

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Tenpin Bowling Proprietors Association (TBPA) Members

The TBPA today includes all of the biggest operators and bowling equipment suppliers in the vibrant tenpin bowling industry. The Hollywood Bowl Group has been investing heavily in their Hollywood Bowl centres and has been active in expanding their estate which includes AMF Bowling. The Hollywood Bowl Group are not alone in seeing the growth potential, Tenpin Ltd have expanded their estate significantly by the purchase of six bowling alleys from The Hollywood Bowl Group and Bowlplex estate.SuperbowlUK have opened new family entertainment centres (FEC) that have extra facilities such as soft play areas whereas other FEC’s in the sector have added Laser Quest with tenpin bowling or VIP areas. Namco Stations and Namco Funscapes also offer a lot more than tenpin bowling and are truly offering family entertainment on a grand style. So if you go bowling today you will find so much more to add to the fun!

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Trade Members

The TBPA is proud to include some of the biggest names in the industry as trade members who have expertise in all areas from bowling machines, tenpin bowling lanes and all ancilliary bowling equipment. Manufacturers, Brunswick and QubicaAMF together with suppliers and installers Bowltech, Bowling Vision , DJC Bowling Services and Ventola Projects have many years of providing expert service to the bowling industry.

TBPA associate members provide industry specific support: A J Gallagher for insurance,  Gamestec for amusement machines, Laser Quest for laser tag equipment, MRS Websolutions for website and direct marketing, Pulse300 for On Line Booking, Regency  Purchasing Group for across the board purchasing and Touchstone Energy  Management Services for savings in energy contracts and advice on how to reduce consumption.

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A brief History of the TBPA

The TBPA is the UK’s oldest bowling association and formed in 1961 due to the rapid growth of bowling. It started as a collection of all the major bowling alley proprietors and growing chain operations. The president’s position rotating between the membership and the association growing a new activity. They were heavily involved in teaching and showing the leisure activity as a sport. Early members like AMF and Brunswick sent coaches from the USA and developed home grown star coaches.

This enabled the British Tenpin Bowling Association to form later in 1961. In fact only 18 days later. Together they would build up a sport that would have national championships with big name sponsors and even TV turning up to film. Big British movie and sports stars opened many of the early bowling alleys and there was a joint effort to balance and grow leisure and sport bowling.

For a good few years, the growth was amazing, almost every city and town in the UK was getting a bowling alley. Over 100 new centres between 1961 and 1965, Things started to slow down and the bubble eventually bursting at the end of the decade. Things slowed down on the leisure bowling side but many alleys helped to stay open with regular sport bowling. Things had just gotten a little stale and AMF would change all that in the early 1980’s with a centre rennovation program and new computer scoring. Bowling would then hit a second boom that would last into the Millenium.

Fast forward to around the middle of the last decade we see a third boom and driven by boutique bowling and a higher end chic retro look which was then taken on by the major UK bowling chains with almost all now in the UK following this model. Boom three comes in two parts with the second part being a revolution in bowling Pinsetters.

String bowling has given proprietors a new lease of life in operation costs and savings and in the last four years has begun to dominate the market. Almost all new installations are with string pinsetters today.

TBPA Presidents
TBPA started with six month rotation within the industry
30th March 1961 Mr Ivor Smith – The Regal Bowl, Golders Green NW (Top Rank Bowling Ltd)
29th May 1961 Mr Cartlidge – The Princess Bowl, Dagenham (Associated British Cinemas Ltd)
13th July 1961 Mr J H McDonald – The Pavilion Bowl, Wylde Green, Warwick (Associated British Cinemas Ltd)
27th Feb 1962 Mr Ivor Smith – The Regal Bowl, Golders Green NW (Top Rank Bowling Ltd)
23rd Aug 1962 Mr L S Michael – Ambassador Bowling
7th June 1963 Mr Cartlidge – The Princess Bowl, Dagenham (Associated British Cinemas Ltd)
26Th June 1964 E G Forsyth – Top Rank Bowling Ltd
25th June 1965 Mr R A Myers – Bowline Bowling Ltd
14th June 1966 Mr L E Carpenter – ABC Ltd
2nd June 1967 Mr T W Clarke – Starlanes Bowling Ltd
21st June 1968 Mr J M Bentley – Excel Bowling Ltd
6th June 1969 Mr G Brown – Top Rank Bowling Ltd
26th June 1970 Mr J M Bentley – Excel Bowling Ltd
18th Sep 1970 Mr T W Clarke – Starlanes Bowling Ltd
12th Feb 1971 Mr D Goddard – EMI Cinemas & Leisure Ltd
10th Sep 1971 Mr T W Clarke – Starlanes Bowling Ltd
2018 Tom Clarke
2020 – current John Ashbridge