BOWLING: THE bowling green at the Farmers Arms, which has stood for 150 years, is under long-term threat.
The Rudheath pub was boarded up on Monday and its seven bowls teams are guaranteed only one more year's use.
A home had been offered to their three sides in the Mid Cheshire League, two in the Norley League and one each in the Afternoon and Ladies League by Winnington Park, when it looked as if Farmers would have to move on and end the sport in Rudheath, played on the green since 1854. Rudheath played there when they helped launch the Mid Cheshire League in 1904, but it was not until 1979 that Farmers Arms won their only title.
Bowls secretary Brian Pendlebury said on Friday: 'We don't know what is happening, whether we will be allowed access to the green or not.
'Some believe it is a heritage green, that the land it occupies cannot be used for anything else. But without seeing the deeds we would not know and it is hardly our field.
'The green is among the oldest and best in Cheshire. It is in immaculate condition. We have just spent £1,000 on it and had been given no warning at all.
'The pub is steeped in bowls and closing it would have a big effect on the community as well.'
But on Monday the bowlers had agreed a stay of execution with the pub's owners, Punch Taverns, for one year.
Rudheath Social Club, meanwhile, are still exploring their chances of taking over the green.
But the Farmers is to be put on the open market and could be sold as a going concern or for possible development, though councillors say there is no need for new housing in the village. Its sale would take months and the season starts in six weeks. Punch Taverns' North West business relations manager is Derek Shirley, the former Witton Albion chairman and ex-landlord of the Oak Tree and the Coachman.
He said the company had decided to put the Farmers Arms on the open market because 'it is no longer viable and the building has deteriorated a lot'.
The various leagues had already drawn up their fixtures, but were prepared to notify clubs of a change of venue if the green closed. But bowls could still lose another green from its dwindling stock, and sport in general a site of importance.
Mid Cheshire secretary George Horwill said: 'It would have been a blow to lose the green and if they can keep it for at least a year it will help.'
Gladstone was the most recent green to close and Pochins is expected to shut at some point.
British CGBA chief executive John Crowther warned, in these pages in December, of the repercussions of an 'inexpensive sport played on very expensive greens'.
The original Farmers Arms, a small black and white building, was pulled down and rebuilt in 1959.
* It was announced in the winter that the Hazel Pear green was also under threat because it had no teams and would not be in regular use this summer. * Beech Tree is keen to increase the use of its bowling green, which is for public hire. Landlord Mark Patton (01606 77292) has full details. nCheshire have been drawn in the same group as Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cumbria in the End-sleigh County Championship.
In the Drake's Pride Junior Championship Cheshire play Staffs, Shrop-shire and South Yorkshire.