TEN-pin bowling first came to Burnley in 1963, when film and TV star Douglas Fairbanks Junior opened the latest of his eight bowling alleys at Finsley Gate.

Launching the venue, Fairlanes Bowling, he scored a lowly two points with his first ball. The Mayor of Burnley, Mr J Lord, fared even worse with a gutter ball. The building cost £250,000 and the 24 machines were installed at £6,000 each. A frame cost 3s 6d, and tuition was initially free.

After completing his A-levels in 1965, Steve Chapples, of Burnley, got a part-time job there, to save up for university.

He worked there from 6pm to 3am as a mechanic, despite the fact he knew nothing about engineering.

But it was his job to put the pins back into the machines if they came out of the big drum at the rear.

Said Steve: "In the 24-lane alley this was constantly happening, while a complete breakdown of the machinery was known as a blackout.

"A common joke was for the guy on the control desk to shout over the tannoy blackout Lane 26'. I would rush down to the far end suddenly realising there were only 24 lanes!

"Eventually I was promoted to the control desk and was told by Denis Murtagh, the assistant manager and theatrical impresario, that under no circumstances should I allow anyone to use my till for which I had a key and that any shortfall in the takings would be deducted from my wages.

"One evening there was a Britvic promotional event. Miss Britvic, a 23-year-old peroxide blonde from Rochdale, joined me on the rostrum packed tightly into a black, spangly mini-dress.

"She grinned inanely at everyone all night, including me, but I could not stand her.

"It was only later that I realised that Miss Britvic was none other than Julie Goodyear, who began playing the part of Bet Lynch in Corrie the following year.

"Denis Murtagh and I got on very well as we both loved doing magic tricks. The manager Mr Harker was a rather corpulent, friendly character, who had the rather disconcerting habit of calling everybody love'."

When Fairlanes closed the building it became an MFI store, but in 1989 ten-pin bowling was in vogue again and the game is once more back at Finsley Gate.