Tenpin bowling 1960
Diameter 21,6 cm
Weight 4,5-7,3 kg
Picked out by an Evening Standard photographer in December 1960 and clutcing a standard, black rubber ball of the day – manufactured by AMF, the American Machine and Foundry Co. of New York – 18 year old shorthand typist, June Campbell, was one youngster among many swept up by Britain’s newst sporting craze.
Tenpin was skittles for spac age; they alley electrified, courtesy of the aotomated pinspotter, invented by Fred Schmidt in his garage in Pear River Y in 1936.
Britain’s first pinspotters were installed at US air bases during the mid 1950s. AMF then opened their first public alley at an ABC cinema in Stamford Hill in January 1960. Hollywood heart-throb Douglas Fairbanks Junior, who had earned ‘pin money’ as a boy and who was now on the AMF board, hosted the gala opening. Everest climber Sir John Hunt bowled the inaugural ball – a gilded one, naturally – straight into the gutter, before scoring a strike on his second ball.
Following him were cricket’s Bedser twins and the actors Stanley Baker and Carole Lesley.
Within months Top Rank were gutting cinemas all over London to meet demand. Stamford Hill became a regular haunt for the Spurs’ Double winning team everly Monday night. A club formedthere called the Chipmunks. Luthon’s club was the Sputniks. By 1965 over 40,000 bowlers had signed up nationwide.
Around that time specks of colour started appearing on the balls. AMF and their rivals, Brunswick, then introduced Ebonite. In the 1980s brightly coloured Urethane balls took over. By then, however, Top Rank had abandoned tenpin for bingo. Yet despite this, there are now over 200 alleys in Britain, the highest number ever.
With their refined composition and accurately weighted bais, today’s balls skim across the hard lacquered lanes with ever greater velocity and turn. But not at Stamford Hill. A supermarket now occupies that once star-studded corner.