A brick-laying ceremony to mark the re-build of a sports centre, destroyed in a devastating fire in 2011, took place last Wednesday.
The city’s mayor, Annie Brewster, turned her hand to brick-laying at the inauguration of the new Batchwood Sports Centre. The fire also destroyed the golf and bowls clubhouses at the Batchwood Drive Site.
The brand new sports centre will complete the new facilities available including new pavilions for golf and bowls occupied by the Batchwood Hall Golf Club and Batchwood Hall Bowling Club.
The new sports centre will be almost twice the size of the original and will be an East of England regional tennis centre of excellence with six indoor courts.
It will also provide one of the largest permanent judo dojos in the south east, a larger 50 station gym and refurbished squash courts. The centre will include a cafe open to everyone visiting Batchwood, be they dog walkers, cyclists or sports facilities users.
The Mayor of St Albans said: "It is a complete pleasure to lead the brick-laying ceremony to mark the re-building of this wonderful city sports facility that will cater for both mass participation and high performance sport.
"Not only am I impressed by the huge natural light panels in the state-of-the-art curved indoor courts roof, but the way the former mansion’s locally listed garden wall and wrought-iron gates have been incorporated into the design.
"This amazing quirky architectural feature, with its stone spheres standing over five metres above the courts, has to be St Albans’ answer to Wimbledon. I can’t wait to see the centre finally completed later this spring."
The sports centre is currently being constructed by the St Albans District Council’s contractor Willmott Dixon Construction (WDC) and will be completed in May.
The mayor was joined on a site tour by pupils from Verulam School, who have been working with WDC on a project about architecture and construction management.
Councillor Mike Wakely, portfolio holder for sports, leisure and heritage at the council, said: "The construction of the sports centre is the last phase in the rebuilding of sports facilities at the Batchwood site following the fire.
"The council is taking the opportunity to enhance the facilities for tennis at the main sports centre and to include new provision for judo. Once finished, the centre will be a wonderful base for budding tennis and judo stars to train and develop their skills.
"Batchwood Tennis Club member, 16-year-old Harpenden tennis ace Emily Arbuthnott has been playing in the Australian Open junior tournament in Melbourne. This was the first junior Grand Slam for the player who is ranked in the top 100 junior tennis players in the world."
For more information about the tennis coaching programme, contact the council’s leisure contractor for Batchwood, Leisure Connection on 01727 844250.