For more than a year, there have been plans to open a bowling alley and family entertainment centre at 65 Caversham Road which used to be the home of the Dawsons music shop.
Initially. there were hopes that the bowling alley and arcade games centre could open in the summer last year, but project delays now mean the venue, called ‘Bowl Central’, will not be open until the early summer this year.
Tracy Standish, the director of Bowl Central, explained: “We have done some initial works on site doing surveying. We are hoping to start work in January, that’s what we are targeting to be on-site for.
“If we can achieve that we could open in early July.
“What we are not able to put down is when we can install the air handling plant, treating the air, and we need to get to that point first.
“Hopefully we will be doing that and starting on-site in January.”
Once open, guests can expect bowling, interactive darts and traditional redemption games, where tokens won in games can be cashed in for prizes.
There are currently Bowl Central venues in Bournemouth and Fareham, with delays to the opening of the latter location having a knock-on effect on the project in Reading.
Mr Standish is aware that Reading Borough Council recently gave consent for a gaming and family entertainment centre in the Broad Street Mall.
While that venue will have bowling, the type that will feature is ‘duckpin bowling’ which has smaller balls and pins than a full-size bowling alley.
Bowl Central will have a full-sized alley with balls with finger holes, as opposed to the ‘duckpin’ balls which do not have finger holes.
Answering the possibility of competition that the venue in the Broad Street Mall presents, Mr Standish said: “It won’t stop us from pushing ahead. They’re not including bowling in their concept.
“Our concept is a combination of bowling and redemption games, it’s not clear in their concept whether they will have redemption games as well.
“We see ourselves as a destination venue, their concept is for more occasional visits from people already visiting the Broad Street Mall for the retail offer.
“We are creating a destination venue.
“It’s definitely going to happen. It is very frustrating but we are getting closer all the time.
“I signed off on pricing for the building contract, so we are very close now to committing to getting on site.”
Mr Standish explained that air treatment is essential to the preparation of the unit and existing facilities from Dawsons cannot be repurposed.
He said: “It’s a great location but unfortunately all the infrastructure is not enough for what we are creating.
“We need to put all new air handling equipment and electrics in. We are starting from scratch.
“Everything from that point will be new.”
Reading is also set to get ten-pin bowling at The Oracle as Hollywood Bowl is due to open at some point in the future inside the old House of Fraser department store.