Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Happy 25th birthday to Market Harborough leisure centre

Market Harborough leisure centre opened 25 years ago today - thanks to the people on Twitter who have reminded me of this.

It was opened by Princess Anne and I was invited. I declined because I was already committed to some Liberator event.

There had been a call for a leisure centre in the town for many years before that, not least because the existing facilities were so poor.

I once blogged about the old swimming baths - and the campaign and the campaign to replace them - here:
I learned to swim in these original baths at evening classes in the 1970s. On the way home I had a spring roll and chips from Frank Taylor's chippy ... and the air was prickly with the smell of soup powder from Symington's factory - probably from the modern block, also in Northampton Road, which has since been demolished. 
By the time I was elected to the council in 1986, the baths were even more shabby. But the swimming club were not fools. Because they invited me, as a new councillor, to present the prizes at their junior swimming gala. If I remember rightly, this event took place the day after the close of the Liberal Assembly in Eastbourne, so I had been up selling Liberator songbooks until the small hours of that morning. 
It turned out that, though there were a lot of races, the club did not have many members. The result was that the same damp and increasingly tired children came up each time to collect their prizes. 
As guest of honour, I was given a seat by the side of the pool. The trouble was that the surround was not that wide, so I was sitting very near the edge. This did not matter when a backstroke or breaststroke race went past, but when it was the butterfly of the crawl I was soaked by the spray. And I had put a suit and tie on for the event. 
By the end of the gala I was very open to the club's argument that the club and the town needed a new pool. In fact I later seconded the motion that got it built.
Those original baths were given to town by our old friend J.W. Logan MP. The stone marking this was moved to the new leisure centre when they were demolished.

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