Members of a bowling club whose historic pavilion was burnt down last night say they're devastated by what's happened. The fire in Penrith's Castle Park is thought to have been started deliberately. Fire crews from several stations were called to the blaze but the well-known wooden bowling club building and cafe was completely destroyed.
At around half past seven last night fire swept rapidly through the wooden building, destroying the home of the town's bowling club with its well used cafe.
Hillary Squires, the Secretary of the Castle Park Bowling Club, said, "Look at all the chairs with no covers, nothing, I just can't believe that such a thing has happened. I feel so sad about it, I could weep. I am absolutely gutted. It just beggars belief. I don't know what to do about it because the people who do it don't even now they're doing it I don't think."
All that could be salvaged were the charred bowling balls, trophies from over the years and the remains of the clock that hung on the front of the building.
The club president, David Noble, said, "We're devestated that we've lost our club house and the bower which we rely on for fundraising and for entertaining people in tournaments and league matches but we're not going to give up."
For the fire service it was a major incident - crews coming from across the Eden Valley to fight last night's blaze.
Bruce Wilson, Cumbria Fire Service Watch Manager, said, "This was a really well developed fire. When I was approaching from the motorway I could see flames above the actual castle and it looked for all intents and purposes as if the castle was on fire."
The pavilion had been here for almost 100 years. It was a building that was known by virtually everyone in the Penrith area. Its destruction is being treated by the police and fire service as arson.
The local council says it will do all it can to help the bowling club get back on its feet.
Councillor Gordon Nicholson, the leader of Eden District Council, said, "My words to them are they may be down at the moment but we're certainly not out and as we speak our officers are looking for solutons to getting the club up and running as quickly as possible."
The damage comes on the day that English Heritage revealed that a fifth of England's most precious buildings were hit by crime last year.