Ilkeston - Rutland Sports Park
w/e 12 March 2006
All this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490

The following article appeared in the local newspaper, the Ilkeston Advertiser.

A CONTROVERSIAL sports centre was finally opened to the public yesterday two and a half years late.
The long and troubled history of Sport Erewash - now the Rutland Sports Park - has rumbled on for over five years, cost £6.1 million and a great deal of political turmoil. The project foundered in September 2003 at a cost of £4.1 million, leaving work unfinished and the facilities closed to the public. Since then an extra £2.5 million has been pumped in to get the scheme completed.
Paul Hogan, director for culture and leisure services said: "There's no question that the project has had a troubled history. On phase one of the scheme there were over 100 changes to the original plan and obviously any time you make a change it adds to the cost. With part two there have been about 12 changes and they all saved money. But phase two was completed on time and around £100,000 under budget. Now it's here the prospects of its ongoing success are great."
Portfolio holder David Stephenson complimented the work of Mr Hogan and. assistant director Tim Spencer, saying: "It's been a long time in the making but we have got together and these two officers have delivered it on time and on budget."
On Tuesday assistant director Tim Spencer said: "It's opening tomorrow, and it's already four years old! We have made the best of what we have got - it can never be perfect." Mr Hogan said: "There has been impatience to get it finished and now it is finished we just want to get on and make it work."
Ten full time staff who are all trained fitness instructors will be on the site and in the future the park hopes to employ a golf professional who will train youngsters. The tennis centre contains three tennis courts or ten badminton courts, with facilities for table tennis. The new gym boasts state of the art weight-lifting and running machines, which are linked together by a computer system which enables users to monitor their own progress. There is a full-size football pitch covered in astro turf, encircled by a six-lane running track with two D-shaped areas at either end for activities like shot-putting and the high jump.

I decided to take a look for myself starting at the new clubhouse for the golf course.

Golf Clubhouse

The clubhouse, shielded by boarded up windows and doors and a mesh fence against stray golf balls on the one side (top) is accessed from a new car park on the other (bottom). It is not in use yet though and players still have to use the old building for the time being. There has been impatience to get it finished and now it is finished.
Spectator Proof

Walking from the golf course and adjacent to it, we reach what was the lower part of the Rutland Recreation Ground. At one time a grassy bank ran down to a couple of football pitches and long ago there were cricket nets between the pitches and a pitch and putt course. Now the area has been levelled and an astro turf pitch laid surrounded by the six lane athletics track. The building on the left of the picture is the indoor tennis centre on the far side of the Rec and the one to the right straddling the upper and lower parts of the Rec now houses a new gym as well as the changing facilities for football and hockey. The grass bank has been replaced by a retaining wall and the track will be used by at least two athletics clubs. The whole arena is surrounded by a high fence and spectators for any future events will have to confine themselves to the terraces under the new building or stand on the unmade ground outside the fence. We have made the best of what we have got.
New Car Park

Although the project is 'finished', the changing rooms in the refurbished cricket pavilion were still being painted last week. Another new car park has been made at the side of the pavilion in the area where the original contractors set up their works compound leaving an untidy and uneven area between the car park and the upper level of the Rec. With part two there have been about 12 changes and they all saved money.
Pavilion Detail

The former terracing in front of the pavilion has been demolished and replaced by two staircases - there is also disabled access via a lift. Although these alterations are detrimental to the appearance of the building it is good to see that certain features like the date above the door and the clock ( although it was not showing the correct time) have been retained. The cricket ground was prepared to county match standards and officially opened on Wednesday 6th May 1925, hence the significance of the date. The forerunner to the Rec on this site was the Pimlico Ground which was given to the people of Ilkeston in the 1870s by the Duke of Rutland when schoolrooms were built on the old cricket ground near the Market Place so the area has been used for recreational purposes for well over 130 years. It's opening tomorrow, and it's already four years old!

I feel like a bit of a traitor this week as regular visitors to the site will know that I always like to try and put a positive image on the town and the surrounding area but in some cases you have to tell it how you see it and I sometimes wonder what the driving force is behind some of the residents. These three images show from the left in an anti-clockwise direction a young sapling snapped off about a foot above ground level on unmade ground where the pitch and putt used to be; lumps of brick and concrete in the middle of the cricket pitch and holes in the bowling green where the vandal proof fencing appears to be less effective than hoped for. Mind you if the site had been cleared of all the raw materials that has caused some of the damage, vandalism would have been much more difficult to accomplish. Now it's here the prospects of its ongoing success are great.
Children's Play Area

The 'project' may be finished but it will be a long time before the furore dies down and until the Rec regains some of its former glory. But phase two was completed on time and around £100,000 under budget.
It's a shame some of that £100,000 savings could not have been used to do all those finishing touches that are still outstanding or diverted to repair some of the dangerous fencing around the old tennis courts and to enhance the children's play area (inset) that is but a shadow of its former self. It will take more than a name change from the Rutland Recreation Ground to the Rutland Sports Park to win back the public's confidence and whole hearted support but as assistant director Tim Spencer said: ".... - it can never be perfect." Many a true word .... !

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