Sponsor & Partner

This voluntary project could only be undertaken with sponsorship. We are extremely grateful to S+P Architects, the international sports and leisure architects, for their support.


Welcome to The Sports Leisure Legacy Project

The project records the history of the development of the UK community sports & leisure centre and the recreation management profession it initiated.

The first purpose-built UK sports centre for the community opened in Harlow in 1959 and there are now over one thousand centres in the country. The centres continue to make a significant contribution to the social, sporting and recreational lives of communities. In developing the story, project leaders are in touch with some of the earliest centre managers and many others across the decades.

Part One and Chapters 4 and 5 of Part 2 are now available. Chapter 6 of Part Two is pending. This principally covers the period up to 1996-97. Chapters 7-12 will be carried on this website later in 2019. The six decades are to be recorded by managers and directors from each period, including some from the very first centres.

This website tells you about

  • the Sports Leisure Legacy Project
  • our sponsor and main supporters and
  • how those involved in sports & leisure centres, past and present, can contribute information and stories.

“Harlow to K2 and beyond”

From Harlow in 1959


“George Torkildsen and the ground breaking Harlow Sportcentre are synonymous with inspiration and innovation. This encouraged me on the road in those early days of recreation management.”

Geoff Gearing

Manager, Deeside Leisure Centre 1970-74.

to K2 in 2006


“K2 was a significant development in the sports centre story. Providing residential development on the site of a 1960’s new town centre facility fully funded K2 Crawley as well as two new satellite sites that met modern needs and provided much stronger links between our local schools and community sport.”

Nigel Sheehan

Head of Partnership Services, Crawley Borough Council

and Beyond to 2020


“We’ve always been at the forefront of leisure design. Today our work has a primary focus on economic sustainability, driving up participation and reducing unnecessary cost. The quality of customer experience is paramount to stemming attrition from sport and maintaining required revenues.”

Keith Ashton

Director, S+P Architects

Our Supporters

The following national organisations welcome this project:

Supported by: