A council plan to tear down Rowan’s Bowling Alley in Finsbury Park has been met with strong opposition.
In watercolour pictures used as part of a proposal put forward by Hackney, Haringey and Islington councils to regenerate Finsbury Park town centre, Rowan’s is absent: Parkstock Ltd, which owns the building, has applied to Haringey for the area to be turned into 80-150 residential units and a hotel.
A petition posted on change.org calling on ‘Haringey Council: Say “No!”‘ to the plan the rip down Rowan’s Ten Pin Bowling in Finsbury Park’ has already received 4,687 signatures.
Kirsty Lloyd was one of those to lend her support to the campaign.
“I celebrated my 18th birthday in Rowan’s. And many of my friends 40th birthday parties have been help here. It has been part of our social lives for over 20 years,” she said.
“It provides good local entertainment for a wide range of ages and backgrounds. It was be a shame to lose this facility. Where would all the young people hang out if Rowan’s closed. It plays an important role in the community. Don’t knock it down.”
Ollie Glanville, 22, from Crouch End, who spent many childhood birthday parties at Rowan’s echoed these comments. “That’s crazy, it was the place to go, characterful, bit quirky,” he said. “But as with most things its audience was appropriated by a corporate behemoth on an industrial estate in Barnet.”
Rowan’s first opened in 1913 and was first used as a cinema, capable of holding 1,500 people. During the First World War, the building became synonymous with gambling and ‘amorous soldiers liaising with loose women’ and was placed under police observation. Before its present incarnation as a bowling alley, in 1948 it became a dancehall and The Beatles played at the venue in 1963.
Outlining their vision for the regeneration of the area, the document from Hackney, Haringey and Islington describes Finsbury Park Town Centre “as an area of enormous untapped regeneration potential” but goes on to state that is hampered by the amount of public transport which passes through the area, its complicated geographical location and the fact that it is one of the most deprived parts of the country.
The planning document states the regeneration of the area will look to attract retailers, provide 400-600 new homes and improve public spaces.