In 1964, Halifax’s Bowling Alley opened in Broad Street, directly opposite the Town Hall. Although called Broad Street and taking on the role of the main Lancashire to Yorkshire through road, Broad Street was, until the early 1960s, far from broad, as can be seen from the first photo, looking down from the Orange Street junction. The old Wesleyan Chapel next to the Town Hall can be seen on the right of the photo with a corner of the Town Hall just poking its way into the shot.
Then, in the early 1960s, the old buildings down the side of Broad Street opposite the Town Hall, including Maude’s Temperance Hotel, which had been there since the 1830s, were demolished so that Broad Street could be widened. The ground where the old demolished buildings had stood was then turned into a car park, as can be seen from the second photo here.
Then, in 1963 the American Brunswick Corporation bought the land with the intention of building a bowling alley which went ahead in 1963. In Halifax terms it was a huge, modern building with a rooftop car park. In terms of ten-pin bowling it was seen to be a big alley with 28 separate lanes made from pure maple. Compared with how that plot of land had looked in recent years it was a striking building, as seen in the third photo here, and it was widely admired by many locals. However, within days of the completion of the building, the local council began receiving numerous, strong complaints. So what were people complaining about? They didn’t like the 14 foot, white plastic bowling pin which was placed on top of the new building, directly opposite the ornate clock tower of the Town Hall (see the fourth photo here). Although the borough council had given Brunswick planning permission to place the tenpin on the building one local councillor described it as “a plastic pin - a shabby totem making its exclamation mark against the sky that did not fit in with the ideals of the council”.
Over the coming months, the controversy grew both in the local and national press and an attempt was even made to involve the Prime Minister, Sir Alec Douglas-Home, who had delivered a speech from the rooftop car park of the bowling alley. He refused to get involved. In the event, planning permission for the tenpin ‘skittle’ was not renewed and it was demolished in February 1965.
However, back to February 6th 1964 – the bowling alley’s grand opening! Brunswick decided that, in addition to Halifax’s Mayor, Alderman Wilson Haigh, they needed a major celebrity to launch things at their major new building. The celebrity they booked and who attended, along with her special Crown Jewel Bowling Ball from Chicago, was actress Pat Phoenix, who at that time was playing ‘Coronation Street’s’ controversial character, Elsie Tanner (see the fifth photo here).This wasn’t Pat’s first visit to Halifax. She had appeared in plays at local theatres many times over the years and was well known in local theatrical boarding houses.
Despite the major optimism surrounding the bowling alley and the publicity surrounding its opening, tenpin bowling didn’t really take off in Halifax and the alley was finally closed in November 1969. In May 1970, the building re-opened as a Presto Supermarket. Nowadays, of course, the site on that side of Broad Street is now occupied by the Broad Street Plaza complex and hotel.
Information here has come from the Halifax Courier. Thanks to them.