In 2020, we were struck by the news that the Plaza Cinema in Workington would be closing. Nevertheless, we still had the Eclipse Bowling Alley.
For a brief, shining moment, there was hope: the cinema would be re-opening in John Peel House! Hooray!
Skip forward two years, just months after the re-opening of the cinema, Eclipse Bowling announces its closure, and shortly after this, news that a new bowling alley would only be opening months down the line in summer.
Gone are the days of actually having something to do in West Cumbria.
It seems that the area is operating under a one-in-one-out policy- we lost both bowling and the cinema for brief periods, each activity only relevant when we’re bored of the other.
It’s not even that anyone particularly enjoys bowling, or that there is an urgent need for a cinema in the age of Netflix, Prime, and YouTube; it’s about the social aspect!
Teenagers are constantly berated for ‘hanging around street corners', ‘loitering in public areas’, and ‘causing trouble’, which begs the question: what do you actually want us to do?
Sure, there are after-school clubs, which can occupy us for about an hour or so through the week, but then we have evenings and weekends - half terms and holidays - to worry about.
The fact is, simply, that there is nothing to do, and when there is, our options are extremely limited.
Given that it is the social element we value, the sad truth is that the next best options for many are parties, drinking, ‘congregating in parks’, which is a popular complaint among the ever-entertained older generations.
Congregating in parks wouldn’t be as bad of an option if it didn’t directly cause the ‘well there’s nothing else to do’ attitude surrounding drinking in young people, which only leads to a host of difficulties surrounding recreation and how to have fun later in life.
But what can they (the people in positions of power in Cumbria) do?
The council has a responsibility to ensure the wellbeing of the local community and to bring trade to the area.
The issue goes further than us, and remedying us will also help heal the economy of the local area. When the Plaza closed, West Cumbrians flocked to the Gaiety, and (for those willing to go a little further) the Vue. Undoubtedly, this will have had a colossal impact on the ticket sales in those cinemas.
With nothing special or unique to do in these rural areas, we can’t even ensure that our own populace will feed into these sectors - there are only so many times you can do bowling or mini-golf!
With nothing to do, nobody visiting the area will come to our rural towns like Whitehaven and Workington - they’ll stay in Keswick, Ambleside, St Bees, thus leading to further class and social divisions within Cumbria.
Simply, it is the job of the higher authorities to give teenagers something to do.
Not just to settle the case of perpetual nothingness in the area, but to create a county that flourishes everywhere, that makes people actually want to branch out and invest in individual local economies.
I can’t see an end in sight, can you?
Psst, we're out here fighting for change.
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