By Connor Steel
BOWL CENTRAL is a brand new entertainment facility based in Fareham Town Centre and opened up to the public last month, taking over the former site of Adastra’s Nightclub. Promising a premier experience with an arcade, bar and five-lane bowling alley; the Globe decided to explore the new attraction on Friday, March 31.
Four adult tickets were purchased at a prices of £68, which included two full games of bowling starting from 7:40pm. Detailed costs include £17 per person or £8.50 per game, with all reservations booked and paid for earlier in the week. An email was then received with full details and asked for us to arrive at around 7:25pm.
Due to work and traffic it was a slightly later arrival of 7:37pm for the Globe group, who were slightly worried about being late and missing our booking. However this wasn’t the case as we were greeted at a member of staff who kindly reassured us and sent us over to the bar area to show our booking confirmation for bowling.
The venue was naturally busy due to payday and Friday night visitors, with a fairly even split between those sitting down in the bar area and in the bowling section. People were also using the arcade games just inside the entrance, but there wasn’t any serious queues and lots of space to walk, even for those carrying glasses.
Other first impressions included the well-lit nature of the venue, although this depended on the separate area sand was not overwhelming after coming into the building from darkening skies. Background music, although creating atmosphere, arguably was too loud however and made it harder to hear the staff members / others.
Being welcomed by another member of staff at the bar, our booking was confirmed and we were ticked off a list on the computer before our names were digitally entered onto the scoreboards. Unlike the other bowling venues there was no need to change our shoes and we were guided to lane three for the start of our games.
Despite all five lanes being used there was plenty of bowling balls available and a ramp could be seen safely nearby if anybody requested this support. These were cleaned at regular intervals by two staff members who were alert to any problems or questions from customers, whilst also cheering occasional strikes and spares.
Our two games of bowling took an hour to complete with very similar results and multiple slips, which added to the laughter and atmosphere of the evening. There seemed to be no rush to finish and staff also visited to check if we were OK for drinks, whilst also sorting out small technical issues with calmness and promptness.
Individual lanes were spaced out to avoid a sense of overcrowding and tables are located at the top of each one alongside three chairs. This gave us a place to sit safely when not bowling and provided a place for our coats / bags, which were naturally and rightly our responsibility to keep near to us throughout our entire visit.
In terms of access the site does allow mobility aids to be used, its flat surface and slopes potentially enabling the use of wheelchairs. Scorecards were also large and the screen text was easy to read, with the single real improvement being the lack of visible signage around the building in case visitors aren’t greeted by the staff.
The venue doesn’t have any windows and although it does have good air-conditioning, it did get quite warm throughout the building as the evening wore on. Therefore any visitors may wish to wear loose fit clothing in the venue particularly in busy times, although this is just one negative point (alongside the music & signage).
With regards to the above comment above about the background music, this did appear to quieten down as more people arrived and a general hubbub could be heard as the main sound. It is important to stress that a member of our group does wear hearing aids and these do exaggerate any sound before they slowly adjust.
Once our two bowling games had concluded we left the venue after taking multiple photos; not using the bar and arcade areas. However we could see that they were kept clean throughout the evening and were all well used by some visitors, with some cheers coming from the arcade area due to somebody winning a big prize.
Overall it was a fantastic “adult focused” experience and it is certainly good to have a bowling facility back in Fareham after so many years. Even if readers don’t go bowling they can expect good customer service from staff, a happy atmosphere and smiles throughout; which is why the group ranked the venue 8 out of 10 pins.
PICTURED BY ORLA & AISLING STEEL: Photos from the experience at Bowl Central on Friday, March 31.