Watton Sports Centre

Watton Sports Centre built between 1973 and 1984.

In August 1968 a meeting of representatives of the various sports clubs in the town was held and agreed to go ahead with the idea of building a Sports Centre for the town which was the idea of Ken Worden the secretary of Watton United Football Club. As a result of this meeting the Sports Association was formed under the chairmanship of Noel Dye who sent out a circular appealing for donations and within a half hour the first donation was pushed through his door by Mrs. Bantick who lived nearby. After five years of fund raising events she was invited to cut the first turf on April 8th 1973, to get the first stage of what was to become a vast sports complex, under way.

Included in the first phase were the main games hall with badminton court, lounge bar area, com­mittee rooms, full-sized snooker table, kitchen, changing rooms, bath and shower facilities, storage space, outside balcony, car park and some landscaping work.

The original estimated cost of this phase was £ 13,000, but due to inflation the final figure was; staggering £ 35,000 of which grants amounting to £ 7,000 have been received with the rest being raised by local efforts. At the same time it was hoped to complete the shell of the second stage, which would include two squash courts, a meeting room and hall combined and additional changing accommodation and showers, for which another estimated £ 22,000 would have to be raised.

Saturday 14th September 1974 saw the Official Opening of the first stage of Watton's Sports Cen tre by Sir Edmund Bacon, Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk and it was a just reward for the officers of the Sports Association and all who supported them by their hard work, endeavour and encouragement

Within two years the second stage had been completed and this was officially opened by the Rt Hon. Lord Luke KC, VO, TD, DL, Chairman of the National Playing Fields Association. With the firs two phases now in operation the chairman and committee had every right to be proud of their achievements and the most important and encouraging factor was that the centre was already being extremely well used, with more and more of the general public joining and considering it to be their club. This certainly convinced the officials that there was a great need for such sporting facilities ii the town as they were providing.

During the next few years work on the third phase continued to go ahead steadily and on 23rd July 1982 Mr. Dick Jeeps, CBE, the Chairman of the Sports Council officially opened the third stage of Watton's Sports Centre which cost £ 80,000 and was paid for from profits from the existing sections of the centre that had been ploughed back into a fund for future development. He also unveiled a pla­que built into the outside of the main building which had been donated by the local stonemason. Alan Blake. The new addition will provide facilities for five-a-side football, cricket nets, badminton and basketball and covers an area of 80 feet by 45 feet. An extension to the snooker room has enabl­ ed another table to be installed and at the time of writing a new committee room and additional toilet facilities are in the course of construction

Over the years various money raising events have been organised and the thanks of everyone us­ ing the facilities at the centre are due to all who helped in any way. From the outset the major source of money raising was the forming of a "100" club, which was soon fully subscribed. It then became a "200" club and has now peaked at "500". The initial success of the "Draw Club" was ensured by the hard work of its first secretary, Jane Dye, and the untiring efforts of Eileen Ward, the present secretary, has seen a continuation of that success.

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