An Old Sport In A New Venue
The chance to play an ancient sport is just one reason to be excited about Preston’s stunningly modern, new leisure venue, writes Kate Ford. Photography: SusieQPhotography.co.uk
Regular users of the A6 between Preston and Garstang cannot have failed to notice the latest development of the Barton Grange Group, as it took shape alongside the road at Brock.
The grass-covered roof is unlike anything else in the area, curving and bending to blend in with the local landscape.
Inside, there are plenty of other features making a bold statement, not least the building’s centre-piece, its Olympic-sized curling rink.
Curling is one of the world’s oldest team sports and, although widely played in Scotland, is rarely seen south of the border, as there are so few curling rinks in England. In fact, the opening of this new facility at the Flower Bowl brings the total number of English curling rinks to two.
“The only other place to curl in England is a rink in Kent,” says Guy Topping of Barton Grange, who spearheaded the Flower Bowl development. “I went when I was visiting friends down there and knew straightaway I wanted to include it here.”
With four ice-sheets, so up to four games can be played at the same time, it’s hoped this impressive facility will encourage lots of people to give curling a try. Beautifully designed and offering all the equipment required, including shoes, it’s the perfect place to get to grips with this relatively gentle, but nevertheless strategic, sport.
“Curling is such an inclusive sport, it suits all ages and abilities,” says Guy. “Men and women can play together, it’s wheelchair friendly and it’s such good fun. Our curling experts will talk you through the basics, so you’ll know what to do.”
“For mature people, groups of friends, colleagues or families, it’s a great way to spend time together. Get on the ice, slide some stones and you’ll soon be hooked!”
Guy certainly practises what he preaches having recently joined Preston Curling Club, which is over 140 years old and one of the country’s longest established clubs. Members used to travel up to Lockerbie every fortnight to train, but now they have this lovely new facility to call home.
The Flower Bowl is certainly a very stylish place to try something new. After a session on the ice, you could enjoy the super-chic ten-pin bowling, visit the three-screen cinema with luxurious sofa-style seating, or play the breath-taking crazy golf course called ‘The Secret Garden’.
When you need to refuel, there are four different places to eat and drink, including two restaurants. From the games area next to the bar, you can watch golfers perfecting their swings on the golf simulators and, from the coffee shop seating area, you can see the whole curling rink.
Why watch though? This is definitely a place where it’s the taking part that counts.
The Flower Bowl
Garstang Road, Brock
Preston PR3 0RB