Practical realities of sports centre operation

Leatherhead Leisure Centre comprises a swimming pool complex, sports hall, six squash courts, indoor bowls, club rooms and social suite.  In its first years of opening (1975/77) the operation of the centre involved the following: Procession 10,000 members annually. Collecting £4,000 per week. 10,000 users per week of whom 45% were non-members. Dealing with 700 […]

Summerland and Maysfield – two terrible sports and leisure tragedies

Summerland – Isle of Man – August 1973 Although not strictly a sports centre, the family entertainment complex was the scene of a fire in which 50 people died, 80 were injured and nearly 3000 escaped. An enquiry established that the initial source of the fire was a result of smoking by young children. Key […]

Lightfoot Sports Centre – very early programming reflections

The first management requirement was to ensure that the local communities’ needs were met as ‘outsiders’ would have monopolised the facility given the chance! The presence of outdoor pitches enabled a policy of ‘no indoor football’. The programming of the indoor spaces was rationed in order to provide for different sports, and different types of […]

The Squash Story

From its origins in the mid 19th Century, the sport of Squash was largely the preserve of the privileged few from the public schools and the traditional universities. Courts often existed either as stand-alone buildings or as a block of 2 courts, frequently in conjunction with sports such as Tennis, Cricket, and Hockey, as part […]

The Royal Visit

It’s not every manager that gets to open a new centre. If that is not enough at Concordia we also got to have an official opening by HM Queen during her Sliver Jubilee Tour. As manager I would say that the public opening of the Centre was the most daunting but the official opening is […]

1968 – the earliest discussions on operational management of centres

The first ‘benchmark’ in the operational management of centres came as early as September 1968 when a Recreation Managers Symposium was held at Billingham Forum. This was a forerunner to the forthcoming formation of the Association of Recreation Managers. This was to be a new professional institute that, initially, was almost entirely focused on sports […]

Denis Howell, Baron Howell PC – Legacy Legend

Denis Howell was the first UK Minister for Sport and played the foremost political role in the establishment of The Sports Council following the Wolfenden Report in 1960. His influence on the sporting scene was enormous. He was a Birmingham City Councillor between 1946 and 1956, MP for Birmingham All Saints from 1955-59 and for […]

Sargent & Potiriadis

Reproduced with kind permission of Leisure Media Peter Sargent was one of the founding partners of sports and leisure architectural practice Sargent & Potiriadis (S&P), along with business partner Mark Potiriadis. The pair were among a small group of creative thinkers who transformed leisure architecture from the late 1970s onwards, with the creation of innovative […]

Billingham Forum – Grandfather of ‘Leisure Centres’

Billingham Forum, conceived in 1960 but not completed until 1967, was dubbed “the grandfather of leisure centres” by the art historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, and “without question, the father of the British leisure centre” by Lance Wright, editor of the Architectural Review. It was designed by Elder Lester Architects. Billingham Forum anticipated the shift that […]

John Birch

John trained as a PE teacher at Loughborough from 1951-54.  After teaching he undertook further training at Carnegie before joining the CCPR as Research Officer in 1965.  He was responsible for the first ever research study on Indoor Sports Centres in 1970-71.  He transferred to the new executive Sports Council in 1970 and in 1974 […]

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