Harthill: Discover village’s hidden gem

While some sports facilities are facing closure amid funding cuts, one local leisure centre is bucking the trend.

Monday, 29th July 2013, 11:07 am
Harthill Leisure Centre G130719-3g

Harthill Leisure Centre is nestled on Woodall Lane, next to the surgery and the recreation ground.

And it has recently been given a new lease of life thanks to the hard work and dedication of community members and the parish council.

Villagers would be forgiven for thinking the centre was all but closed, was it not for a hardy core of crown green bowlers who have kept on playing.

Harthill Leisure Centre G130719-3h

“I’ve heard people say they have lived here for 30 years but have never been to the leisure centre,” said parish council clerk Les Wheatley.

It is a real hidden gem with loads going on, and people have been signing up for sport in their dozens.

There’s everything from tennis, football and netball to bowls, board games, a book swap and even an art gallery.

Tea, coffee and biscuits are also in plentiful supply from the newly refurbished cafe.

Harthill Leisure Centre. Majorie Wheatley making the teas G130719-3i

Said Les: “We haven’t chosen a name for the cafe and we’re hoping people might help us with some suggestions.”

“Come along, have a drink and a chat, and see what name you think would suit it best.”

The idea behind revamping the leisure centre was to encourage local people to get active and make the most of the facilities on their doorstep.

“The bowling green which last year was down to just six bowlers now has 20-25 regular players,” said Les.

Harthill Leisure Centre G130719-3j

“Tennis membership has gone from zero to 30. And we’ve also got 17 netball players of all ages who have formed a team from scratch.”

“We have put on some coaching for them to brush up their game, and we’ve got tennis coaching sessions coming up soon.”

The centre will also hold another of its successful open days for people to come and try their hand at bowling.

And they are hoping to get young people involved in a mixed five-a-side football tournament during the school holidays.

Said Les: “We have kept the prices low to make it accessible for everybody.”

“It costs just £2 an hour to play tennis or bowls. We’ve got a special offer bowling season ticket for £20. It’s £1 for children’s tennis and it will cost £1 for the youngsters to play in the football tournament.”

Marjorie, Les’s mother, is helping out in the cafe. She said it was also lovely to see young mums coming across for a cup of tea when they take their children to the park next door.

The leisure centre is keen to hear from anyone else who could volunteer a few hours a week to help run the cafe.

“It would mean we could keep it open longer and serve the people playing bowls or tennis,” said Les.

“We want to show we’ve increased participation in sports which gives us a good basis for applying for grants.”

“This whole project has been spurred on by the parish councillors who wanted to see the facilities improve for local people.”

“But it has taken on a life of it’s own. We had no idea it would become so popular so quickly.”

Harthill Leisure Centre is open 1pm - 9pm Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and 10am - 4pm Saturday and Sunday.

For more details or to hire a court call Les Wheatley on 07773 782246.