I first went inside, on joining the gym shortly after moving here 8 years ago, and was blown away by the scale and structure. 60s concrete isn't to everyone's taste, but you can't fail to be impressed by the ambition of the building. With its great nave of angled columns, it's a veritable cathedral of sport. And there can't be many better places to swim in Britain than the 50 metre pool with it's dramatic tower of diving boards. In my view, no less impressive than Zaha's aquatic temple in Stratford.
Designed by London County Council's Architecture Department, the building is admittedly showing its age, but the costs of running such a huge and intensively used building must be vast. It has however, over recent years had much invested in it by its custodians, GLL; new changing rooms, gym facilities, a climbing wall, and even some beach volleyball courts. Being Grade II* listed, it's future, once uncertain, now seems secure, and I'm told further developments are in the pipeline. Watch this space!
Meanwhile there are plans to celebrate its half centenary over the weekend of July 12/13th, with all leisure facilities being free on those dates. Diving board 'taster' sessions will be held on Saturday, along with drop in social tennis sessions.
On sunday the real fun starts with a Big Dance event in the stadium, followed by an open air screening of Mamma Mia, BBQ and catering.
So a very happy birthday to this wonderful piece of our local heritage!