DISGRUNTLED bowlers say they feel let down by management at Walton Pier who have cancelled one of its league sessions after 50 years.

It is the last strike on a Friday evening, affecting about 25 semi-professionals who compete as part of the local Premier League.

Bowlers will have to switch to either a Monday, Tuesday or Thursday league, or quit.

John Mills, 59, club secretary of 37 years, is disappointed with management at the Pier who he claims do not appreciate the history of the sport.

Mr Mills, who has bowled since the age of 14, said: “It’s the end of an era.

“Some of the bowlers have never had a six-week break in 50 years and won’t return. It’s sad.

"Dominic Barrett, who is now a full time professional in the sport, started his career there and is shocked to hear what’s happened.

“People like Paul Scottow and Robin Garton were national champions and had bowled there since the league’s beginnings.

“Management know nothing about bowling or of the history and just don’t seem to be bothered.

"It was three weeks ago I approached them after hearing rumours. There was no consultation and it was if they’d made up their minds.”

Russell Bolesworth, who took over ownership of Walton Pier last July, said he intended for Friday league bowling to continue after summer but as part of its new business plan, he needs to attract leisure bowlers.

League bowlers take up six of the nine lanes.

He said allowing them use of the bowl at a discounted price during the peak period was not sustainable.

He said: “The team had been dwindling for some time.

“Members are getting older and they’ve not been attracting new people so I’ve tried to make it more attractive to leisure bowlers who we can cater for during the holidays.

“It’s also about getting younger people into the bowl again.

“With the league diminishing we’re potentially losing money and I’m trying to provide a business model so we’re in good stead with the bank in order to secure funds for our future development plans.

“There are business considerations but these changes these are only temporary.”