Boxing club ready to make surprise move
Published on: 02 Feb 2016
DOWNEND Amateur Boxing Club is making its long-awaited move to a new base this month – but there’s a twist in the tale.
The club is moving not to the former Oldbury Court community centre building as planned but to the Harry Crook Centre on the other side of Fishponds.
It’s bad news for the volunteers who run Downend ABC in the sense that more than two years of work to try to restore the Oldbury Court building has come to nought but good news in that they will now have their own dedicated space to create a state-of-the-art gymnasium at their new base in Moorlands Avenue.
Chairman and head coach Craig Turner said it was a great opportunity for the club, which currently meets at Pomphrey Hill pavilion in Mangotsfield.
It has secured a long let with Happy Dayz Pre School, which was granted a lease by Bristol City Council late last year to allow it to run, repair and maintain the former Harry Crook Youth Activities Centre.
Volunteers from the boxing club have already worked to regenerate the sports hall and have won a £5,581 grant from Sport England to provide two new boxing rings for the facility.
All the centre’s facilities are available for hire for voluntary and community groups and there are already plans for affordable keep fit, boxercise and gym sessions as well as boxing coaching for children and adults.
Craig admitted it had been disappointing to miss out at Oldbury Court, which had been the club’s base in the early 1990s, but the task of restoring the derelict building had simply become too big.
“We did our utmost, but unfortunately time, the weather and the damage already sustained to the building put any hope of regeneration out of reach,” he said.
“The opportunity came up to move to Harry Crook and we thought it best to concentrate our efforts there.”
He paid tribute to the positive response to the change from the club’s volunteers, who insisted their hard work at Oldbury Court had not been wasted.
“It was time well spent, the guys say. They enjoyed the camaraderie and learned a lot from the work we did. It really moved us on as a club. In the time we were there we made things a bit more pleasant for the residents, by tidying up the derelict site.
“I was moved to tears by our guys’ attitude – they quickly picked up their tools at Harry Crook and started painting the place. They are so passionate about what we do at the boxing club.”
An important part of the club’s work is with at-risk young people, many of whom will never box competitively but who benefit from the training and discipline the sport offers.
Craig, a former policeman, said: “It quite simply saves lives.”
Centre future in doubt
THE future of the derelict Oldbury Court community centre building is in doubt following the boxing club’s move.
Bristol City Council says it is no longer needed and will be put up for sale.
Local people fear it will be bulldozed and the site used for housing, rather than much-needed community provision in a disadvantaged area.
In April last year, members of the Greater Fishponds Neighbourhood Partnership backed the boxing club’s plans to create a neighbourhood hub for use by community groups as well as for sport.
They said it would be good to see the building, which had fallen prey to vandals after being empty for several years, back in use.
But last week Craig Turner said that unless action was taken very soon demolition would be the only option as the cost of regeneration was soaring as the weather took its toll.
A council spokesman said: “In line with Bristol City Council policy on redundant buildings, the former Oldbury Court Community Centre has been declared surplus to operational requirements and will therefore be offered for sale on the open market.
“Any prospective buyer will need to have regard to our planning policy relating to the loss of community space and will need to comply with requirements within any proposed development.”