Greenwich has a secret underground Victorian bowling alley which people can still play a game on today.

Although Rowans Tenpin Bowl or Queen’s are usually the bowling alley of choice for many Londoners, this Greenwich hidden gem is one of a kind, in this day and age anyway.

Found in the Old Royal Naval College’s Painted Hall, Skittle Alley is a working relic from the days when ex-navy sailors, known as Greenwich Pensioners, lived in the college during the area’s salty sea dog, swash-buckling heydays from the 1700s.

The Resident: Skittle Alley was created for the Greenwich PensionersSkittle Alley was created for the Greenwich Pensioners (Image: Old Royal Naval College)

Built in 1864 and named Skittle Alley, it lives in the Chalk Walk, a long, vaulted cellar beneath the Heritage Listed Old Royal Naval College, and was used to serve food to school boys and then serve as a smoking room for the pensioners before being converted into the bowling alley.

The bowling alley was created to as an incentive to keep the men away from local pubs and to relieve the boredom that often came with life in the hospital.

The attraction takes its name from the game bowling evolved from, which is so similar to bowling, they may as well be the same thing. One difference however, instead of equipment made from plastic and resin, everything back then was made from wood.

The Resident: You can find the bowling alley in the Old Naval College, along with the beautiful Painted HallYou can find the bowling alley in the Old Naval College, along with the beautiful Painted Hall (Image: Old Royal Naval College)

A ticket to the magnificent baroque Painted Hall will give you access to Skittle Alley at no extra cost, just check opening times with staff.

Similar to the Chelsea Pensioners, the Greenwich Pensioners were retired sailors and seamen or those who had permanently injured themselves while out on oceanic expeditions and adventures. Some lived on site, while others just drew a pension, having contributed sixpence and month towards the maintenance of the hospital.

Want more fun things to do in London? Here’s the round up of the best things to do this September, or take a look at this guide for the many childish, silly things adults can do for fun in London.

Address: 2 Cutty Sark Gardens, Greenwich SE10 9NN