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Sir Sidney Kimber and the development of Southampton Sports Centre - Part 10

My readers must remember that by this time I had considerable experience of the members of the Council and their ways. Opposition to expenditure - no matter how wisely - was inherent in the majority, and the Ministry of Health at this time was close-fisted, as it was a time when there was a considerable national depression. So I worked hard, first, to get the Bassett site and failed, and my dream for the acquisition of Harefield dissolved, for before there was an opportunity to change the Council’s mind portions of the estate had been sold for building. Messrs. Edwin Jones used the most important level site for their own employees’ sports ground, and the whole lot was soon bought up by different purchasers. So the chance of providing a sports centre for Bitterne, Sholing and Woolston evaporated, and I had to concentrate solely on the Bassett site.

However, as is mentioned in another page, in 1934 I was instrumental in obtaining, through the kindly aid of Sir Herbert Walker, K.B.E., a lease of the Weston Shore, with an option for the Corporation to purchase it at £70,000, so my desire to secure recreation for the Woolston people was not unavailing.

Later Note: December, 1948. The foregoing was written about seven years ago. During the intervening period, the Sports Centre has become famous and is acknowledged to be the finest in the country, particularly praised by the Americans. The golf courses, bowling greens, cycling and running tracks have attracted the finest sportsmen and sporting events from near and far. Indeed it has become the “Happy Valley" for young and old and is used by thousands for recreational purposes.

I sincerely hope the owners, the people of Southampton, will guard it jealously and beware of any attempts at alteration of any kind.

From Chapter 10 in Thirty Eight Years of Public Life in Southampton” Sir Sidney Kimber

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10

Plaque located on the lawn outside the Sporting View commemorating the official opening of the Sports Centre on 28th May 1938 (click for larger view). Another plaque is located on the Golf Course.

Read the Southern Daily Echo’s report (28 May 1938) of the opening of the Sports Centre by the Duke of Kent (report located in Council Archives by Arthur Goode).