A bowls club has been targeted by arsonists - just before the new season starts.

The Springfield-based Lionmede Bowls Club home on Sandford Road was set alight last Wednesday.

Extensive damage was caused to the property by the blaze which was put out by fire crews by 11pm.

Among the wreckage was a storage room where vital playing equipment including mats and scoreboards were kept.

With the 2014 season starting on April 20, chairman Maurice Lauder has said his club desperately needs help from their rivals to be ready in time.

Mr Lauder said: “This has been heartbreaking for everyone at Lionmede.

“Thankfully the playing surface and changing facilities were not damaged so we can still play and most of our players have their own bowls.

“However, the fire destroyed our equipment like scoreboards, mats, jacks and pushers which are used to collect bowls up after a game.

“Without these items we won’t be able to play so I would like to ask any other clubs locally who have any going spare whether we could have them please so we can fulfil our fixtures.”

Although the shell of the building has been left standing, it is expected the clubhouse will have to be pulled down.

Anyone who can help the club with equipment can contact Mr Lauder on 01245 267942.

An appeal for information has been issued by police over the incident.

Witnesses should call officers at Chelmsford on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.