Saturday 11 June 2022

  Today, I went to visit the newly built Cottonmill Community and Cycling Centre, the successor to the Marlborough Pavilion in Old Oak off Cottonmill Lane and I was extremely impressed. Lots of careful planning has gone into its construction and design to make it appropriate for the whole community. Inside the main building there is a cafĂ©, a large function room which can be divided into three rooms, a kitchen, two changing rooms, toilet facilities and separate washing facilities for the Muslim community when they use the centre for worship. It even has a state of the art disabled toilet and changing facility complete with hoist! The other part of the centre is a Cycling Centre where cyclists can meet, buy cycling gear and have bikes checked over and repaired.

Outside, as well as the Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA) and football pitch, is a leisure track which circles round the football pitch and a fantastic pump track - a bumpy track -  for the more adventurous to try out. Loads of children were playing on it while I was there. The carpark has been well laid out and I was pleased to see. that there are three disabled bays.  Four fruit trees have been planted in a tiny wildlife meadow at the rear of the building and there are plans for a children's playground. There are plenty of seating areas outside where one can watch the cyclists as well as admire the beautiful Ver Valley.

Years ago, many of you may remember that Cottonmill used to have its own purpose built community centre funded by membership subscriptions. For around 20 years, it was a very popular social venue, especially for the elderly, but falling membership numbers meant it had to close. It opened ten months later under a different name - the Marlborough Club but that did not last long before it was burnt down. Since then there has just been the uninspiring prefabricated building - the Marlborough Pavilion - used mainly for clubs and the odd meeting, and as a changing room for footballers. It was a sorry looking building, never well liked or maintained neither inside nor outside and consequently was often vandalised. This new building is such a delightful contrast. It is bright and airy, looks beautiful and has been built with the whole community of Sopwell in mind.

When I was in charge of the SRA committee, I often dreamed of a having a a dedicated community centre. I was envious of community centres elsewhere like the ones in Fleetville and Cunningham Hill. There was talk of doing something with the Marlborough Pavilion years ago. The youth club land was another possible site but nothing happened.  At one point we were hoping that maybe the King Offa site would work. However, now thanks to the existing SRA committee's persistent campaigning for a new centre and a dedicated  group of fund raisers from the Cottonmill and Sopwell Hub (CASH), the dream of Sopwell having a purpose built community Centre has been realised and it is ten times better than Fleetville and Cunningham Hill! CASH raised £30,881 which is amazing. Many people bought engraved bricks and I made my mark!

Let's hope the whole community will use the Centre. The hiring of the halls is not expensive and all the activities outside are free. You can make bookings and check opening times at