New Olympic-standard pool at Hengrove Park Leisure Centre looks to make a big splash
THE long-awaited Hengrove Park Leisure Centre – complete with an impressive Olympic-standard swimming pool – opens today.
The £35-million centre opened early this morning to swimmers, sports enthusiasts and people who just wanted to take a look around the new complex.
The first 50 people to turn up even got a free swim.
The 50 metre-long pool, which has been built to Olympic standard, has been more than three years in the making. As well as the main pool, there is a learner pool, a health and fitness suite and a free weights area, three aerobics studios, a four-court sports hall, cafe, creche and community meeting rooms.
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Initially, there will be 110 staff to run the centre but this number is expected to double when the new complex is running seven days a week.
It is being run by Parkwood Leisure in partnership with the city council which used the Government's Private Finance Initiative to pay for it.
Work finally began on construction in July 2010, which was celebrated with a dry demonstration by synchronised swimmers from Bristol Central Swimming Club who won gold medals at the British championships two years ago.
The centre will be open 5.30am to 11pm, Monday to Friday, and from 8am to 8pm at weekends.
"Hengrove Park Leisure Centre is just amazing, it's a fantastic new pool and leisure centre for the city," said Councillor Simon Cook, Bristol's deputy leader and cabinet member for capital projects.
"Its opening demonstrates the council's commitment to invest in sports and health promotion and further strengthens our drive to provide high quality leisure services and facilities for everyone.
"It also marks another massive step forward in the regeneration of south Bristol and the development and investment in Hengrove Park bringing with it new employment and training opportunities for local people."
First in the new pool were Swim Bristol, Bristol's squad of elite swimmers. Their two-hour training session started at 5.30am and local children from St Anne's Junior School were due to have their first swimming lesson in the pool at 9.30am.
But it was a different story down the road in Bishopsworth yesterday, as the area's popular swimming pool closed its doors for the final time.
Bristol City Council decided to axe Bishopsworth Swimming Pool, which had been serving the community for nearly 40 years. The pool in Whitchurch Lane shut its doors to be replaced by the new pool at Hengrove.
The council has come under criticism for the move from local families who use it. But the authority said there was "not a viable business case" for keeping the Bishopsworth pool open, as it was too close to the new pool.