REWIND readers can often be relied on to beat us at our own game.

In the latest example, the reader is John Stooke and and game is tenpin bowling - or at least, a story about it.

Last week we went back to late January of 1963, and a visit by old-time Hollywood legend Douglas Fairbanks jnr to the Fairlanes Bowling Centre off Cheney Manor Road.

The actor was also a businessman, and the centre was part of his empire. It had opened in the late summer of 1962 and is thought to have closed in early 1967.

Our piece, accompanied by a grainy black and white image taken directly from an old copy of the Adver, caught the eye of John Stooke, a company director and local history enthusiast whose projects include research into Swindon’s lost pubs.

He supplied us with colour image which appeared on the front page of issue 42 of the Swindon Echo, a short-lived local newspaper.

The edition is dated April 26, 1963, and the caption reads: “It was a great day at Fairlanes Bowling Centre on Saturday.

“Douglas Fairbanks presented prizes to winners in the ‘Echo’ Big Tenpin Bowling competition. Left to right: John Stooke (third), Douglas Fairbanks, Mrs Anne Jordan - she won £100 - and Mr Walter Fuller.”

The date of the newspaper suggests the star visited Swindon twice in the early part of 1963.

John said: “I can’t remember a great deal - I was 16

“I was an enthusiastic tenpin bowler - we used to go all the time.”

He cannot remember details of the competition, but recalls that prizes included not just cheques but new bowling balls and - in his case - a pair of bowling shoes.

Admission to the centre cost the equivalent of 18 pence in decimal currency, but that wasn’t cheap in 1963. Although John recalls no mass craze for the sport, plenty of young people were drawn by the newness and glamour of the place.

“It was something different. There were 24 lanes - it was a big, impressive thing to walk into and you weren’t really used to things like that.

“There was the noise of the machines, the clatter of the pins being collected.”

In last week’s story we speculated that Terry Taylor, the man pictured with Douglas Fairbanks at the centre in late January, was its manager, and John confirmed this.

The building which once housed the bowling centre still stands in Kiln Lane off Cheney Manor Road.

Do other readers have memories to share?