Abandoned Martins Bowling Alley Hamilton Ontario | Urban Exploration Photography
The Abandoned Martins Bowling Alley Hamilton Ontario has been around for more than half a century. It was well taken care of, and had a mid-century, well-lived-in beauty. There are hand-carved benches and a wide staircase off to the side, in soft, yellow wood. There is no electronic scoring, it’s all paper, except for the leagues, which determine score using a chalkboard on the wall farthest from the door. They serve Labatt 50 and Canadian Club, Uncle Ray’s chips. It is a working-class place, in a working-class town.
Jimmy, the bowling alleys last owner, had a real working-class vibe. He was there for more than three decades. Even when first-generation immigrants have moved to the area, and young families moved to the east end, the community’s love for Jimmy and his bowling alley grew deeper. There were leagues almost every day of the week, and kids’ birthday parties on weekends. People had bachelor parties and baby showers there. It was never not busy, and business was good.
Jimmy was apparently paid quite a bit of money to vacate his business, for a larger social good. The question of how much Jimmy is getting paid, and what he is getting paid for, complicates this matter. He will tell you that he is not getting paid for the refurbished and new equipment, that the bowling alley square footage should include the equipment behind the back wall.
The now abandoned bowling alley is slowly starting to lose the fight with time and against scrappers, the perfectly printed 1950s signs are still there, the benches, the score sheets, that chalkboard, and those lanes, still buffed to a shine.
The bowling alley was forced to closed, along with a great many other local businesses to make way for an LRT project (Light Rail Transit). May 26th, 2018 was the last time a 5 pin ball would roll down the lane.
Sometime around June 2018 I was driving around town free-styling and looking for abandoned places to visit. I passed by this old looking bowling alley with boarded up windows and doors. I took a walk around the perimeter and discovered that there was not yet any way inside, I noted the address and would return.
Fast forward a couple of months later and I passed the building again and noticed a door was open, I figured one of two things
1 – The property owner is inside cleaning things out
2 – A scrapper or homeless person forced their way in
I would be correct on the second point, and I would soon see that someone had gone to GREAT lengths to get access to the building and they made off with as much scrap metal as they could find.
I grabbed my flashlight and poked my head in the door, calling out to see if anyone was inside. It was pitch black and it smelled like an old bowling alley, the last games scores were still on the chalk board and old posters and advertisements still hung. I walked through, calling out continuously expecting to be confronted by an unhappy scrapper or homeless person.
I had cleared the main level, which contained six 5 pin bowling lanes and a bar/cash area. There were stairs heading up and I figured it was probably offices or apartments, the door was closed so I cautiously opened the door and called out only to be met by another 6 lanes of art deco bowling and more old style cigarette ads on the walls.