University Sports Centres: 21st Century Progress by Degrees

Historical Background

Cambridge Real Tennis

UK universities have a long history of providing sporting opportunities and facilities which match the times. Henry VIII (1509-47) was a skilled practitioner of Real Tennis, and famously built a court at the Royal Palace of Hampton Court, which still survives today and is used for modern competition. Real Tennis is still played today at the Cambridge University Real Tennis Club Centre. As another example, the earliest records of University of St. Andrews show student sport there dates back to its 1618 archery club, and golf and rugby clubs to 1855 and 1858, respectively.

University sport can also be seen as an extension of the historical roots of sports at public schools in the 19th century. The first record of football being played at Winchester School was in 1825 with 25 players on each side. A meeting of representatives from the major public schools met at Cambridge University in 1848 with the stated aim of standardising the games played between them, which at that time varied in their rules. Cambridge and its University became the birthplace of the laws of football according to FIFA. This, and many other significant sporting achievements, for example in tennis, women’s collegiate sport, horse racing, boxing, cricket and the Olympic games have been associated with the city of Cambridge and its university.

Cambridge Real Tennis

Early facilities for sport at universities usually consisted of outdoor pitches. However University of Birmingham had a very early gymnasium. The Old Gym was built under the supervision of David Munrow, the University’s first Director of Physical Education, a full-time position established in 1939 in order to set up a scheme of physical education as an integral part of the university curriculum. The University’s ‘Old Gym’ was built in 1939-41 (the building was still in use as a small gym in 2017). On the south coast in 1949 a new assembly hall was built at Southampton University, with a gymnasium and changing rooms. Akin to some early public sports centres, some indoor university ‘sports facilities’ in the 1950s were created by using existing buildings. The University College of North Staffordshire (now Keele University) used its refectory for a fencing tournament and the Chemistry Block for hurdles training.

View pictures of Munrow Centre below, left to right, click to enlarge for captions

New university sports facilities: 1960s – 1970s

Goodwin SC Sheffield University

Whilst not intended as dedicated public community indoor sports & leisure centres, the development of sports halls on university campuses between 1960 and 1973 was significant in terms of overall early sports hall provision and design experience. In fact, the Goodwin Sports Hall at Sheffield University was from all accounts the country’s earliest purpose-built sports centre in 1960, provided by a local businessman, Sir Stuart Goodwin. It had a sports hall and, in 1963, a 33m swimming pool and second gym were added. Other University sports halls opened in this period included:

  • Birmingham continued further in 1966 with 2 sports halls (The Munrow Centre). In 1976 a swimming pool was added and in 1978 squash courts.
  • Southampton’s new Students’ Union building was completed in 1967 as part of architect Sir Basil Spence’s masterplan, which also included a sports hall, six squash courts, the judo/exercise room, and the table tennis area, together with ancillary changing accommodation . The two parts of the building complex were connected by an underground tunnel.

Iffley Road Track plaque

Other early university developments included: –

  • Oxford 1960s: sports facilities at Iffley Road, beside the Athletics track made famous by Sir Roger Bannister’s first 4-minute mile in 1954.
  • Hull 1965: University Sports Centre – sports hall, two gymnasia and a tea bar, plus gallery meeting and lecture rooms.
  • Keele (North Staffs College): 1966 – sports hall, gymnasium and judo room.
  • Exeter 1967: Sports Hall.
  • Lancaster University 1967: sports hall.
  • Liverpool 1967: Sports hall and 33m swimming pool. Designed by Sir Denys Lasdun.
  • Kent 1968: Sports hall.
  • St Andrews 1968: the university’s first sports hall.
  • Sussex University 1969: Architect – Sir Basil Spence: main hall, practice hall and social area.
  • Nottingham 1970: A University ‘conversion’ example, built using the framework of an old aircraft hangar. Opened by Sir Roger Bannister.
  • Queens Belfast 1971: PE Centre.
  • Surrey 1971: The university’s first sports centre.

There were varying levels of ‘public use’ of the early university sports halls beyond the student population, mainly through staff and club use. However, design lessons from these early university halls were considerable and later reflected by architect Gerald Perrin in his ‘Design for Sport’ handbook (1981). An exception in achieving wide community use was Lancaster University (1967). Under Joe Medhurst, then Director of PE, the University pioneered significant public use of the wet and dry facilities. It later used loan finance to build an ozone-treated pool in 1981 and had 136,000 pool users in the first year. At a time when squash was booming and court supply could not meet demand at peak times, the University also used loan finance in 1977 to raise the number of squash courts from 4 to 9, later adding a further 3 courts by 1982.

Through the 1980s and 1990s competitive sport itself gained greater importance in universities. British Universities & Colleges Sport is the National Governing Body for higher education sport in the United Kingdom. BUCS was formed in June 2008 following a merger of the former British Universities Sports Association and University College Sport organisations. These two organisations had their roots in the 1960s and 1970s. Now 5,800 teams compete every year across UK universities and colleges. Students are able to choose from 50 different sports, from soccer to hockey or maybe even a boat race between two very famous rival universities. In these two decades some universities extended or built sports facilities, but sports centres were not a great sphere of priority or expansion for universities at that time. This was to change in the 21st century.

View pictures below, left to right, click to enlarge for captions

21st Century University Sports Centres

A significant feature of the 21st Century sporting scene has been the university building spree which has seen a burgeoning of higher education sports centres, especially at universities. Indoor sports facilities are becoming a differentiator for universities battling to attract students.

This is particularly in the context of a two-way competitive student enrolment market influenced by a) university income from tuition fees and b) students paying big fees and wanting a better experience. There is also greater public access to most of these new facilities, not least because of the income it can generate towards operational costs.

The scale of the development of university sports complexes across the UK this century is significant in the access they provide for students, elite performers and the general public. We have reviewed here a wide selection of provision for sport, recreation and fitness which has transformed the university scene. The 21st Century transformation in university sports centre provision is exemplified by the wide selection of examples listed below.

The University of Aberdeen’s principal indoor sports facility is its partnership in the Aberdeen Sports Village which opened in 2009. (See 10.4.2).

Aberystwyth University’s sports centre offers the expected range of opportunities. A full ‘workout’ gym has 5 specialist sections (including a female zone and a spinning studio); a climbing wall, a sports hall, swimming pool and saunarium; and a Sgubor gym operated on a booking basis.

The sports hall at Aston University’s Woodcock Sports Centre’s sports hall was originally built in 1970, linked to period swimming baths. It was refurbished in 2011 (£5M) with more work in 2013.

Bangor University has the best resourced performance gym in North Wales, featuring six weightlifting platforms, a 9-metre x 1m platform and three standalone platforms. It also attracts many international competitors for training. A 20m track is also built into the gym, which has a range of other equipment.

Bath University can be considered to have one of the leading sets of UK university facilities serving both students and elite sportsmen and sportswomen. The sports village has evolved from new facilities first opened in 1974 and an athletics track opened by Sir Roger Bannister in 1994. A first phase of the Team Bath Sports Village proper came in 1997 plus 4 indoor and 8 outdoor tennis courts and a hockey pitch. A bobsleigh and skeleton track came in 2001 and a Lawn Tennis Association academy in 2003. . It now also offers a dividable 50m pool (with a camera system for elite swimmers) and a high performance gym as part of its £35M Team Bath Sports Village at Claverton Down. The Village also has a 400m floodlit athletics track, 3 sprung wood floor sports halls, a judo dojo, indoor jumps and throw halls, a 120m indoor sprint track, indoor and outdoor shooting ranges and 20 hockey, football and cricket pitches, a 3G training pitch and 6 rugby pitches. A key feature is a 2,000 seater Team Bath Arena. A new 2-storey 200-station £3.5M gym & fitness centre extension opened in 2019. It also has a physio & sports science centre and sports science laboratory. This all probably means Bath has the best ‘all-sport’ array of university facilities in the UK.

View pictures of Bath University below, left to right, click to enlarge for captions

Belfast’s Queens University is Northern Ireland’s leading university and sports institute. The University’s sporting sites include – The Physical Education Centre (PEC), Upper Malone Playing Fields and the Boat House. The PEC, opened in 1971, and expanded with a £7M new phase in 2006, is the hub of Queens Sport, located in Belfast’s beautiful Botanic Park. A total of over £20M has been invested in recent years to maintain high class sporting provision. The focus of the £13M second phase of work on outdoor investment has been the construction of an arena pitch, the UK’s only one to accommodate football, rugby and Gaelic Games on one site. The work additionally included 14 new pitches, 20 changing rooms and spectator stands.

University of Birmingham has one of the most impressive single-build sports centres, opened in 2017 and officially opened by Princess Anne in March 2018. It was designed by Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands in collaboration with Space & Place architects (this Legacy Project’s main sponsor). The £55M red brick and copper clad sports centre was seen as a gateway to the University Campus. With 13,200 sq.m. of sports facilities it is a most expansive and expensive facility of great quality for student sport and recreation. A two-court sports hall and the City’s first 50m pool are major features but the large spaces for a wide range of exercise and group activities are significant for student participation rates. The ambition has been “to provide future generations of the city’s athletes with world class sports facilities.”

View pictures of Birmingham University below, left to right, click to enlarge for captions

Brighton University’s Falmer site saw a £9M new sports centre open in 2010. The 6-badminton court sports hall, fitness gym, 2 activity studios, floodlit 3rd generation FIFA 2-star football pitch and 8 hard court tennis and netball courts are all within 5-minute walk of halls of residence and Falmer rail station. The Cockcroft Sports Centre serves the Moulescoomb campus, where a new fitness gym and studio are planned for 2022.

Cambridge’s 6,060 sq.m. sports centre, designed by Arup Associates costing £16M, opened in 2016. It has a 37m x 34m sports hall, 31m x 16m multi-purpose room and a strength and conditioning room with a 2 lane track plus 6 fives courts and 5 squash courts. It occupies a prominent position on the campus.

Cambridge University

Cambridge University

Canterbury University opened its Christ Church Sports Centre in 2009 with a 2 court sports hall, fitness gym and cycling studio.

Derby University’s £10.8M sports centre opened in September 2015. Facilities include an 8- badminton court sports hall, 70-station fitness suite, dedicated fitness studio, two squash courts, a climbing wall, indoor sprint track and strength and conditioning suite.

Durham has the 2010 development at their Queen’s Campus in Stockton and in 2012 made  indoor and outdoor sports additions at its Maiden Castle complex –including an extension of the sports hall.

In 2018 Essex University launched its £12M Essex Sports Arena on its Colchester campus. The Arena has a spacious 160-station gym and fitness studios together with 2 squash courts and a large 32m x 26m sports hall, with seating for 1655. The centre is also the headquarters of the Performance Sport Department.

Essex University

Exeter University’s Streatham Campus is home to a Sports Park developed since 2012. It embraces the £6.5M Russell Seal Fitness Centre. The huge range of Park facilities includes –  the 200-station fitness gym; a sports hall; indoor pool; outdoor 25m pool; fitness class studios; athlete development centre & performance analysis suite; international water-based hockey pitch; 3G floodlit pitch; golf short-course; Exeter Tennis Centre; and Devon Cricket Centre. The St. Luke’s  Campus (formerly the PE College) has an indoor pool, sports halls and gym. The Penryn campus has a £10M Sports Centre with a with a range of indoor facilities plus floodlit 5-a-side.

Glasgow University opened a £10M sports and fitness club project in 2015 as part of an extension of the sport and recreation facilities linked to its Stevenson Building. It is spread over four levels with a heavy emphasis on sports performance. ‘PowerPlay’ is a 772sqm strength and conditioning area, and as such, intended as the leading high performance facility in Scotland. ‘Pulse’ is a 732sqm cardiovascular and conditioning area.  A 661sqm multi-purpose sports hall is also key feature.

Heriot Watt University

A £33M sports centre, known as ‘Oriam’, opened in 2016 at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and is of national significance. This sports performance centre is located at the Riccarton Campus and is the home of Scottish football and rugby as well as offering facilities for basketball, handball, squash and racketball.  Oriam has five outdoor grass football pitches and two outdoor grass rugby pitches, as well as a floodlit, all-weather playing surface. Other indoor facilities include a sports hall, a fitness gym including a strength and conditioning suite, rehab facilities and a classroom. The concept for the national centre was taken from the findings of the McLeish review into Scottish football. The Scottish Government contributed £24 million to the project, with Sportscotland, Heriot-Watt University and Edinburgh City Council providing the remaining £9 million. The development’s key features include Europe’s biggest indoor football facility and the high-performance facilities, including a hydrotherapy pool.

Hull University

Hull University’s new sports centre is part of a £16-million upgrade in sporting facilities. The new centre opened in 2018 and consists of a 70 x 36m 12-court sports hall, including international-standard netball (as a regional centre) with seating for 700 spectators, and a strength and a conditioning suite. As part of the design, the façade is backlit at night with a flexible, coloured lighting system to create a dynamic visual beacon for the sports hub. The original sports hall, which is listed, has been refurbished to include a 120 station fitness gym, aerobics, dance and spin studios and a martial arts combat gym. In addition the University has developed a £1.8-million football hub, funded in part with a £500,000 donation from the Premier League and the FA Facilities Fund.

Lancaster University Sports Centre

Lancaster University’s long established record in sports provision, going back to its first centre in 1967, was further enhanced with the opening of a new £30M sports centre in 2015, officially opened by Sir Chris Bonington. Facilities include an 8-lane swimming pool with floating floor, a climbing and bouldering wall (advised by Sir Chris), an 8-court sports hall, 4 squash courts, and health and fitness suites including a 100-station fitness gym, plus changing rooms, including for outdoor games.

Since 2000 a University of Leeds £20 million spending plan had been sanctioned to add facilities to the university’s sporting provisions. The Edge, the University’s flagship centre, is situated on the University’s main campus just a 10 minute walk from the City Centre. It includes a 25m, 8 lane swimming pool and a 200 station health and fitness suite, two sports halls and climbing wall. It opened in 2010 and had a £1.2M refurbishment in 2015. Leeds also has the Gryphon Sports Centre on its Business School site, which re-opened in 2008 after a £2.5M refurbishment.

Liverpool University ’s Sports and Fitness Centre is an iconic sports building, designed in 1965 by Sir Denys Lasdun. From 2011 it was refurbished, and a complementary extension built costing £4.5M. The 33m 6-lane swimming pool reopened in March 2012 following refurbishment. The second phase of improvements to the fitness facilities were completed in September 2012. The Centre also has two sports halls, four squash courts, spinning studio, class studio, a fitness suite, which  more than doubles its size, as well as providing an integrated, state-of-the-art weight training facility, dance studio and a bouldering wall. The gym was further upgraded in 2019.

Liverpool University

Liverpool University

The role of Loughborough University, a pre-eminent centre for sport, is home to the country’s largest concentration of world-class facilities, across a wide range of sports. It has been significant on both the UK and international scene for many years. In the early Harlow to K2 Introduction we noted that Loughborough (Training) College, famous for P.E., opened the Victory Hall in 1946, a massive indoor sports space. Loughborough University was formed in 1977 from the amalgamation of Loughborough University of Technology and Loughborough College, and the Loughborough Art and FE Colleges. That gave the University an array of ‘inherited’ sports facilities. The SportPark, based at the university campus, provides a home for national sporting bodies including the Youth Sport Trust, British Swimming and several other national governing bodies. The ECB National Academy, also known as the National Cricket Performance Centre, has been based at Loughborough since 2003 and provides indoor and outdoor training facilities for cricketers. The huge array of sports facilities for students, elite performers and governing bodies encompasses: 50m swimming pool; a specialist elite athletics centre (including throw park and indoor track), cricket, tennis, badminton and gymnastics centres; multi-purpose sports halls; squash courts, table tennis facilities; activity studios; a powerbase gym, cricket ground, artificial and grass pitches for football and hockey, and The University Stadium. Loughborough is also home to the world’s largest university-based sports technology research group, which is part of the Sports Technology Institute.

Loughborough University

View pictures of Loughborough University below, left to right, click to enlarge for captions

Newcastle University recently invested £30m overall into brand-new and refurbished sports spaces. It provides a good example of the synergy between curriculum studies, academic research and student sport. Phase I started in October 2019 with the redevelopment of the existing Cochrane Sports Centre. This provided an expanded 200-station gym with full range of free and fixed weights. It also boasts functional rig and benches, cable machines, and extensive cardio and spin cycling areas. A 50-station strength and conditioning suite and mind body and exercise studios adds to the existing sports hall and changing rooms. It also boasts modern facilities for teaching and research as part of the Sport and Exercise Science Degree programmes. These include biomechanics and exercise physiology laboratories, a gait track, environmental chamber, nutrition kitchen and analysis suite.

Phase II was completed in 2020. The new Cochrane Park sports hall provides:

  • A 200-station fitness gym with full range of free and fixed weights
  • four brand-new exercise studio spaces, including a spin cycle studio
  • four glass-backed squash courts
  • an eight-court sports hall with a basketball ‘show court’ and viewing balcony
  • a high-performance 50-station strength and conditioning suite
  • meeting room and office space
  • three new high-tech artificial pitches and
  • includes changing rooms, physiotherapy and seminar rooms, a rowing ergo and training area.

Nottingham University

Nottingham‘s £40M David Ross Sports Village opened in Autumn 2016 and is the redevelopment of the University Park Sports Centre. The sports village has been supported by a significant commitment from Nottingham alumnus and Carphone Warehouse founder – David Ross, taking his total support for the University beyond £10 million. The facilities provided are: – sports hall – 4 large standard halls / 20 badminton courts; 25m swimming pool; 12m climbing wall; 6 squash courts and an all-glass court; martial arts dojo; table tennis/archery /fencing salle; snooker room; 10 team changing rooms; Clubhouse Café; 200-station fitness suite; spin studio; two dance studios; Finnish sauna and steam room; and outdoor pitches – full-sized 3G rubber crumb pitch and full-sized sand dressed pitch; 3 netball courts; 3 tennis courts plus sports Injury clinic; hydrotherapy pool; 60m sprint track and training area and private consulting rooms.

Nottingham University

For Oxford University Roger Bannister’s Iffley Road track and the wider site remains the focus. The Sports Centre there is home not only to the famous athletic track but also 3 gyms: an outdoor gym by the track; a Main Fitness Gym; and a performance gym for student athletes and teams. Then there is the Rosenblatt swimming pool, the Acer Nethercott sports hall, a cricket centre, rowing gym, tennis and squash courts. There is also a floodlit water-based hockey pitch at Fletcher Field, which is  accredited by England Hockey.

Ravelin Park

Ravelin Park

The University of Portsmouth has developed the outstanding £57M Ravelin Sports Centre that is due to open now in 2022. The sports centre, next door to the University Library, is part of a £400M scheme to provide new student accommodation and transform and improve the city centre. The Ravelin Centre in the historic Ravelin Park in Old Portsmouth, has an outstanding BREEAM rating, and many energy saving features. It was designed by Faulkner Brown and the overall site extends to 11,009 sq.m. The Centre is to open to everyone and the superb facilities feature an 8-lane swimming pool, ski simulator, 8-court sports hall, multi-purpose studios, a climbing wall, squash courts, and a 175-station fitness suite with all the latest personal fitness gizmos, streaming services and social media. There is a café, and also on the site are an urban orchard and underground car park.

Sheffield Hallam University Sports Centre is located 5 miles north of the University campus. The £6M sports park development has high quality floodlit football and rugby pitches, along with 3G artificial pitches plus the Graham Solley Pavilion balcony for viewing. It is one of Yorkshire’s largest outdoor sports centres. The Park is also well used by the public, including Sheffield United. Cricket Club. The other two sports sites are the City Campus with a sports hall and the Collegiate Campus which has a  sports hall, fitness conditioning suite, a gymnasium, a movement studio and the University’s physiotherapy clinic. There is also the Woodbourn Athletics Stadium From Sheffield’s World Student Games days. The English Institute is also accessible to the University.

The Quays Southampton

Southampton University satisfies its student and staff sporting demands by providing a wide range of University facilities with some agreements in addition for access to some City facilities. The University had extensive outdoor pitches at North Stoneham, which dated from the 1950s. It also had an indoor gym/sports hall and squash courts by 1967. Today it operates the Jubilee Sports Centre, it’s main indoor facility (hall and pool – provided in 2004 at a cost of £8.5M with refurbishments in 2009). The Wide Lane Sports Ground was refurbished in 2005-6 with artificial floodlit pitches at a cost of £4.3M. The University Watersports Centre is next to the River Itchen and in 2015 it opened the city centre Mayflower Gym. The University has student and staff arrangements for use of the City’s Quays Swimming & Diving Centre. In 2021 the University started a planning process for further improvements to its indoor and outdoor facilities.

As part of a £100M estate development, Solent University opened a new sports complex in 2019. It provides two sports halls, which include performance, events and multi-purpose facilities, a 6-lane 25m pool, 90-station gym with 40 cardio pieces, a dedicated high performance gym and fitness studios.

University of South Wales

The University of South Wales Sports Park is a 30-acre site located in Treforest, Pontypridd. It has a range of high profile facilities and user groups. In particular it has a FIFA standard 3G football pitch with an indoor GPS notational analysis suite, a strength and conditioning room, an all-weather pitch, a second 3G pitch and numerous grass pitches. It is a training base for local clubs and is also used by professional clubs, including the Women’s FA Wales. The Treforest Sports Centre has a main hall, fitness and strength gyms, a studio, squash courts and health suite.

St. Andrews University is Scotland’s oldest university, being 600 years old, but it certainly has modern sports facilities. Saints Sport Facilities, as they are known, are at University Park, which has a tranquil setting that is just a 10-minute walk to the west of the historic town centre and close to student accommodation. The University has invested £14M in the extension and refurbishment of indoor sports facilities, which opened fully in 2016. The new sports arena has 8 badminton courts and tiered seating for 400 and is a large flexible space for a wide range of activities and events. The second activity space is a 4-court sports hall with a technical climbing wall plus a modern open plan 130 station fitness gym. There is also a tennis centre and University Park also has grass pitches, 3G multi-purpose artificial pitches and courts and 6 new changing rooms. Additionally there is a fitness gym provided at Walter Bower House.

Stirling University’s new sports centre cost in excess of £20M and opened in 2020 after two year’s construction. It is linked to the pre-existing facilities of a 50m swimming pool, 6 indoor tennis courts and an 8-court sports hall. It represents the biggest single recreation investment in Stirling in over 30 years. The new centre has weightlifting stations and a cardio-fitness gym, as well as a HITT training room and an indoor cycling studio. A key feature is a 50m indoor track.

Stepps Strathclyde

Strathclyde University Sport provides a recreational service for students, staff, graduates and associates. The £33M investment in a new sports centre gained Glasgow city planners approval in 2016 and opened in 2018. It was the latest part of a wider £600M campus investment in the decade. The recreation facilities provided are extensive: –

  • a six–lane 25m swimming pool with a moveable floor, plus sauna and steam room. It features a poolpod platform lift to assist those with disabilities or limited mobility. It was the first university in the UK to have such a feature
  • two 4–court multi–use sports halls
  • a fitness suite with 180-station gym, spin and watt bike areas, halo technology, and a strength & conditioning area
  • two squash courts
  • sports hall
  • dance studio
  • specialist health facilities, including four consultation and treatment rooms and
  • The Stepps Playing Field, just a 15-minute drive from the sports centre.

Strathclyde University

Surrey University’s vast sports centre park opened in 2010, costing £36M at that time. It has been a boon to university students and teams as well as the public, with membership offers for them all.  Based on the Manor Park campus, Surrey Sports Park is the University’s world-class elite training venue. It is driven by three key principles of performance, participation and personal development. The centre bears comparison with the scale and nature of Birmingham’s centre. It is interesting that the Surrey centre’s public access could possibly be one of the many factors in the long discussed and problematic replacement of Guildford’s large Spectrum Centre building (£28M in 1993) just 2 miles up the road.

The following key facilities have been provided, indoors and outdoors: –

  • 50m, 8 lane, Olympic standard swimming pool
  • 1,000-seat arena space and additional indoor arena
  • 120 station gym and strength & conditioning area with 9 Olympic platforms
  • 3 artificial pitches, including 2 x 3G pitches
  • Surrey Summit Climbing Centre
  • 8 floodlit outdoor tennis courts
  • 6 glass-backed squash courts
  • Indoor Cycling Studio
  • Sauna and steam room
  • 2 large exercise and dance studios
  • Starbucks
  • Bench Sports Bar

View pictures of Surrey University below, left to right, click to enlarge for captions

The University of Sussex sport facilities [the Sport Centre and the Falmer Sports Complex] are located at two sites on the campus. The Sport Centre has two multi-purpose sports halls; a fitness room, which also has an indoor group cycling room; indoor cricket nets; 4 glass-backed championship squash courts; dance and martial arts studio; a therapy room and sports injury clinic; Falmer Sports Complex has the primary fitness rooms, with an extensive range of CV, resistance machines and free weights; separate strength and conditioning room; outdoor fitness area; six hard tennis courts; netball court; a full sized floodlit 107 x 70m 3G pitch for American football and football matches as well as rugby; a 6-aside football pitch; a floodlit 60 x 40m 3G pitch for rugby and American football training; and a floodlit sand-filled artificial turf pitch; artificial cricket wicket; plus grass sports pitches (cricket, football, rugby).

University College London (UCL) The Students Union runs UCL’s Bloomsbury Fitness, a well-equipped health and fitness club located just next door to the main campus in Bloomsbury. The UCL Sports Grounds in Shenley, Hertfordshire, includes full-size football pitches, all-weather netball and tennis courts, plus a pavilion. A free bus service runs to the sports grounds on match days and for training.

Other nearby facilities include Student Central, open to all University of London students, which houses a 33-metre swimming pool. Students also have access to Camden Council’s Somers Town Community Sports Centre close to the Bloomsbury campus (first opened in 1996 and refurbished and extended in 2013).

In 2000 the University of East Anglia opened one of the first new university sports complexes of the century and set the scene for the scale of facilities that could be provided by universities. It was built with Lottery funding and sought to unite student and community activity. The extensive provision includes: – a 50m Olympic-size swimming pool (with seating for 350 spectators); a fitness centre with 125 stations; an air-conditioned group exercise studio; functional training studio; indoor cycle centre; sports therapy room; 3-bb court size indoor arena with 750 moveable seats; a 2–bb court indoor hall with viewing gallery; 5 glass-backed squash courts with moveable walls to form doubles courts; a10m high climbing wall with bouldering cave; gymnastics centre; 7 conference rooms; 2 floodlit astro-turf pitches for hockey incorporating 6 pitches for 7-aside football; and a Soccerpark: 4 Floodlit 3G 5-aside soccer pitches and 3 Floodlit 3G 7-aside soccer pitches; 8 Lane national standard Athletics track and 6 outdoor floodlit Tennis Courts incorporating 4 Netball Courts; plus a café and bar. Substantial playing fields are also provided at Colney Lane.

View pictures of UEA below, left to right, click to enlarge for captions

The University of Central Lancashire {UCLan] (guardians of the Sports Council Archive, and a supporter of this Project) opened the £12M Sir Tom Finney Sports Centre in 2011 and named after the Preston and England footballing legend. The centre comprises  four floors, with 2 sports halls and a fitness suite with more than 100 stations, including cardiovascular and resistance machines, an extensive free weight area, ‘Cardio Zone’ and ‘Row Zone.’ There is also an 8-lane polymeric athletics arena track, two full-size 3G pitches for football and rugby and American football, and an extensive range of other 11-a-side and 5/6 a-side artificial pitches and courts for tennis and netball.

View pictures of UCLAN below, left to right, click to enlarge for captions

Warwick University

Warwick University’s Sport and Wellness Hub is part of an overall £49M campus development and opened in 2019. It includes two multi-purpose sports halls, a 25m 12-lane swimming pool with moveable floor and a major indoor climbing centre. 230-station gym, complete with views overlooking the surrounding woodland. The swimming pool is alongside a multi-purpose sports arena, sports hall, and six glass-backed squash courts. Also featured is a combat hall, which is a specialist martial arts space, and five-a-side and full-size outdoor sports pitches. All the facilities are available to staff, students and the community.

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