Game over for Albury tenpin bowling

Mel and Niaomi Chettleburgh have been running the Albury Ten Pin Bowling Centre for the past 11 years. Picture: KYLIE ESLER
Mel and Niaomi Chettleburgh have been running the Albury Ten Pin Bowling Centre for the past 11 years. Picture: KYLIE ESLER

ALBURY Tenpin Bowling Centre will close next month, closing a chapter in the city’s history stretching back decades.

Owners Niaomi and Mel Chettleburgh say they are “devastated”, but that financially it made no sense to continue.

The couple have run the business next to Albury’s SS & A Club for nearly 11 years, while Mrs Chettleburgh has worked there for 23.

“This is where my hubby and I first met,” she said.

They have been making a point of personally passing on the bad news to their loyal customers and club members.

Mrs Chettleburgh said the tenpin bowling fraternity was equally upset.

The centre will remain open for just a few more weeks, taking in the Queen’s Birthday holiday weekend.

Mrs Chettleburgh said financial pressures from trying to renegotiate a new lease and the need for building repairs had forced their hand.

“It’s just all become a little too difficult,” she said.

The decision ultimately had been made with “a heavy heart”.

Mrs Chettleburgh said there was so much that made them love the business.

“It’s the disability guys that we run a league for, it’s the people you have come through who you see grow up — from little ones right through to now adults with their own children,” she said.

The Chettleburghs especially treasure the friendships they have made over the years.

“It’s devastating for both of us that we’ve had to come to this decision, but this just seems to be the way of the world at the moment,” Mrs Chettleburgh said.

“Little businesses just can’t survive when you’ve got astronomical electricity bills and the insurance you’ve got to have.”

The couple not only run the centre — which Mrs Chettleburgh believed had been at the site since about 1969 — they are also great lovers of the sport.

They travel to tournaments across Victoria two to three times a year to Geelong, Colac, Warrnambool, Bendigo and Shepparton.

The Chettleburghs decided it was not feasible to sell the business as a going concern.

A large part of that was the need for a lot of building repairs.

“You’re looking at putting $200,000 to $300,000 to do repairs just for our side of it, let alone what might be done by the landlord,” she said.

Mrs Chettleburgh said a lot of people were “just floored” by the news.

“One lady in particular this morning said ‘I’ve bowled since 1966 when it was actually at the village’,” she said.

Mrs Chettleburgh said numbers had definitely dropped off over the years.

“They can always go to Wodonga, though a few older ones will possibly just retire from doing it,” she said.