DAMAGED: The bowls green in the grounds of The Bowes Museum
DAMAGED: The bowls green in the grounds of The Bowes Museum

VANDALS have damaged the playing surface of the Barnard Castle Bowls Club green at The Bowes Museum.

Club officials say “cretins” have left the surface rutted, just a couple of weeks before the green is due to reopen for the new season.

The bowls club’s John Tallentire said: “The damage was deliberate and not the result of them playing football on it which is something else which is happening.

“They had gone around digging their heels in and scuffing of the surface turf.”

Mr Tallentire added: “In some cases it was possible to ease the turf back up but there will have to be some filling in and reseeding.

“Hopefully, with the start of the growing season the seed will take and providing there’s no more it shouldn’t be noticeable by the opening on Saturday, April 4.”

Mr Tallentire said the incident had been reported to police.

“We have had problems for a while with this group or others who are taking advantage of the museum vehicle gates being locked at 5 pm resulting in no police patrols – we used to see a patrol car drive round prior to the locking.

“We’ve cleared up rubbish including drug paraphernalia and there is evidence of them climbing up onto the roof of the rear storage shed.

“Somebody must own these cretins and I ask parents to have a word with their children.”

Insp Ed Turner, of Barnard Castle Police, said he would contact both the museum and the bowls club to see what could be done to tackle the issue.

“The problem is a by-product of us not being able to patrol the grounds.”

The bowling green in the museum grounds is regarded as one of the best playing surfaces in the region thanks to the efforts of a dedicated group led by Angus Dowson and Alan Wearmouth who work all year to keep it in tip top condition.

In addition to their normal work, they have had to contend with this winter’s deluge which flooded the green and washed the seed off.

Mr Tallentire said he was also worried about the effect of the coronavirus crises.

“What is of more concern to me at the moment is the Government’s statement that in the near future all over 70’s will have to remain at home due to the Covid-19 outbreak,” he added.

“As this is the majority of our members, I don’t know what the future holds.”