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Sir Sidney Kimber and the development of Southampton Sports Centre - Part 8

The Duke replying said he was very glad to have been able to come to Southampton and to open "this fine Sports Centre."

"I have been very much impressed, during my short drive through the centre, with the excellence of the layout," he said. "You have provided facilities for a very great number of sports and I feel sure that these facilities will prove a great attraction to the fortunate inhabitants of the borough of Southampton. "

"I should like also to congratulate all concerned with the scheme on their foresight in providing so large a self-contained area."

I (as Chairman of the Committee) then thanked His Royal Highness for his generous and appreciated words and for opening this "Happy Valley," and asked him to accept a presentation for his personal use. The gift consisted of an antique set of waste-paper basket, writing pad and notepaper case, which the Duke had selected himself and which we have reason to know up to the time of his death had been in constant use. The Bishop of Winchester then dedicated the Sports Centre: "Bless, we pray Thee, these grounds so that all those who use them may abound in happiness and health." The hymn "Our God, Our Help in Ages Past" was sung, and Their Royal Highnesses left to fulfil other engagements in the town.

The afternoon was given over to a very comprehensive selection of sports events marking the inauguration of the various sporting activities, tennis, bowls, cycling, tug-of-war, etc., in which representatives from all the local clubs took part.

The new pavilion was open, but for this occasion a marquee was erected for the Corporation to entertain those who had been invited to take part in the various competitions.


I have briefly attempted to cover the period from September 17th, 1930, to May 28th, 1938, a period of thought, anxiety and ultimate success, which comprises the history of this attainment for the present and future generations of Southampton people. Since its completion there have been many deputations sent by various towns to see our “Happy Valley," to take away impressions, particulars of cost, etc., and I know of some instances where the information has been turned to good account.

The following particulars may be helpful:

Size: 269 acres.

Dimensions: 1 1/10 miles in length, 1/2 mile in width.

Total cost: £153,491, which includes all buildings and equipment.

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

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).