Part One provided a picture of organisational, sporting, and political activity, mainly from the 1950s to 1974/5. This period set the scene for the advent and establishment of the indoor community sports centre across the UK in the following decades. It records the pioneering stages of centre developments in this period, in terms of the buildings, organisations, and people.
Part Two covered a huge amount of progress across a quarter of a century from 1970. Operational expertise gradually developed and there was a surge in the provision and nature of centres from 1976 to around 2000, with the number of centres overall rising from 239 to approximately 1,800. Part Two considered important development and operational issues, including early architecture and design. In the same period the search for information derived from the provision, use and management experience of centres started a hive of research activity.
Part Three adopts a more thematic approach and examines some of the main influences on the planning, development and operation of sports centres across that quarter century. It provides a vital context to that period of progress and passage into the 21st century, and indeed the overall history of UK sports centres.
Chapter 7 examines the impact of four influences over the period – political, social, sporting, and professional. This embraces national and local politics; the social justification for centres, the vital role played by The Sports Council, the Advent of the National Lottery and the gradual professionalisation of recreation especially through the Association of Recreation Managers (ARM) and the Institute of Leisure and Amenity Management (ILAM).
Chapter 8 reviews two of the most significant developments in centre provision and management. Firstly, the dual use of school sports facilities and the joint provision of centres, mainly on school campuses. Information supplied by the Leisure Database Company from the ‘State of the Industry Report’ in April 2016 records 987 ‘public sports centres’ in 2016 (as they defined them) out of a total of 4098 (i.e. 24%) being managed within the education sector. Secondly, Chapter 8 records the introduction and impact of competitive tendering for the management of public sports centres. This was the decision of the Conservative Government, elected in 1979, to apply competitive tendering to a range of local authority services. No other single political decision has had so much impact on the operation of public sports & leisure centres, then and now.
Chapter 9 reflects on how the overall planning and design of centres developed. This includes advice and information from the main Project sponsor, Space & Place, specialist architects to the sports & leisure industry. It also sets out how relevant research progressed into the 21st century, as well as considering the role of sports & leisure consultancy. (Chapter 4 considered early design considerations and included an extensive special research paper by Mike Fitzjohn and Malcolm Tungatt on the extensive research into sports centres undertaken over the years.