Centre is fit for another 50 years

Bowhouse Community Centre
Bowhouse Community Centre
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The building itself has been standing in Bowhouse Road, Grangemouth, for over 50 years.

However, the idea behind a community gathering place – a location people can join together to enjoy each other’s company and various events and activities – can probably be traced back to the dawn of humanity and what we term society.

It’s true to say society is always changing and Bowhouse Community Centre has certainly had to change with the times since it first opened its doors back in 1966.

Andy and Irene Daly, members of the current Bowhouse Community Association, have been digging back into the past, researching the history of the community resource to mark its 50th year in existence.

Andy said: “It’s important to keep that sense of community in today’s ever changing society. Bowhouse Community Centre is run by local people for local people and we hope it keeps doing what it is doing for the next 50 years.”

The photographs and facts Andy and Irene uncovered will be on display at the premises in the meeting room before the big 50th anniversary celebration ceilidh next month.

Councillor Robert Spears, who has been invited to the big bash, said: “Bowhouse Community Centre is a place where many people of a certain age met their first love. There has been a lot of money spent doing it up and I wish the association every success over the next 50 years.”

The centre, which was built in 1965 at a cost of £42,000, has enjoyed a colourful first half century, with everything from telephone box heists to bomb hoaxes in its past.

Opened officially by Baillie William Ure, the convener of the housing and town planning committee, Bowhouse Community Centre was a well-used facility from the start.

“It was a place for the good of the community right from the beginning,” said Irene. “And we still try to keep that as our main aim these days.”

Andy and Irene and the new Bowhouse Community Association have helped bring the centre into the 21st century, but back in November 1965 the first meeting of the first association took place with chairman George Hearns promising to “ensure the efficient and successful running of this very fine centre”.

Groups who looked to use the centre back in the late 1960s included badminton clubs, country dancers, a choral club, a car club, chess club and even a group promising elocution lessons.

Back in 1968 it saw 200 elderly people gather together to be entertained by the Bowhouse Ladies Concert Group.

Andy said: “They had a telephone box inside the centre and that was actually robbed. There was also a report of trouble at a disco with around 450 people there and a hoax bomb threat.

“We’ve had a great time looking through these articles we found in the library and the archive at Callendar House.”

Some of the activities the centre was used for back then carry on in the present day, including fitness classes, table tennis and drama rehearsals and productions by Bowhouse Amateur Theatre Group.

And a lot of the 500 chairs which were purchased for two pounds and 17 shillings back in the mid 1960s are still there to this very day.

The future of the centre looks brighter since the new Bowhouse Community Association took over two years ago, taking a run down and tired facility – with help from a £250,000 investment from Falkirk Council, and turning it around.

Thanks to a major refurbishment programme, the centre now boasts new toilets, disabled facilities, new ceilings, a lighting system for the stage, audio loop technology and wi-fi.

Irene said: “The main hall is finished, but the refurbishment work is still going on in and around the stage area and we hope to have our new car park finished at some point over the summer.”

It is now used from early in the mornings, by a regular fitness class, right into the night with social dancing and other groups, including slimming classes, a childminding group with 40 youngsters and football sessions for children.

It is also becoming a popular venue to hold children’s birthday parties and wedding anniversaries.

Irene said: “Everything is going really well, we are really busy and the centre is well used. We are always looking for more groups to come and use the centre and are currently looking at getting funding for laptops and computers in the meeting rooms so local people can get up to speed with IT.”

The ceilidh disco takes place on Saturday, June 4 at 7.30pm and tickets are still available.

People will be able to come along an hour beforehand to look at the display of nostalgia in the centre’s meeting room.

Visit www.bowhousecommunitycentre.com to book the centre or get for more information.