End of an era: Sadness as Jarrold’s sports and social club set to fold
- Credit: SIMON FINLAY
A sports and social club with six decades of history behind it has confirmed it is finally to fold after dwindling usage meant it has been losing money for years.
Bowls and tennis clubs which play at Jarrold's Heath Crescent site, in Hellesdon, are now looking for a new home after the news it would shut its doors at the start of September.
When the family-run firm set up the club in the early 1950s, it was regularly used by employees and their families.
But in the decades since, membership has waned and the club – which is home to a football pitch, two tennis courts and a bowls green – is running at a loss.
While Jarrold has said there are as yet no plans for the site, it follows a pattern of sports facility land across Norwich being sold to developers. Bob Winter, captain of Catton Bowls Club, which uses the ground, said he was disappointed about the closure but 'had nothing but thanks' for Jarrold.
'All they have is a small bowling club and we are a visiting club,' he said. 'We were very happy and we just want to thank Jarrold for all the time there.
'It is the same picture everywhere, no-one is prioritising recreation. I wouldn't be surprised if in time there aren't any outside bowling greens.'
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Mr Winter said the club did not yet know where it would play in the future.
Meanwhile, Mike Littleboy, former employee and chairman of the Jarrold Sports and Social Club, said it was 'a sad day'.
'Jarrold have been nothing but loyal and we are just grateful,' he said. 'It can't be helped – when I got involved in 1966 there were 15 sports sections but numbers have dwindled.'
He said the Jarrold bowls club was unlikely to continue but that the low numbers meant that it may have been the case even if the ground was still available.
A statement from Jarrold said the decision had been taken 'reluctantly'.
It said: 'The Jarrold & Sons private sports club was created in the early 1950s to promote the health of its employees and their families. During this early period the sports facility was well used with a large number of staff actively involved in the sports club.
'However, in recent years the number of employees using the club has fallen significantly and the facility has been running at a loss for a number of years.'
While no figure has been put on the loss, one member suggested income generated from the clubs using the land covered less than 10pc of its running costs.
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