Members of the public have been able to try out Great Yarmouth’s £26m swimming and sports centre for the first time after its official opening.
The new Marina Centre on Great Yarmouth’s seafront Golden Mile boasts a six-lane swimming pool, learner pool and leisure water with flumes, along with a 120-station gym, four-court sports hall, 10m indoor climbing zone, three studios, and community spaces.
Many of the facilities feature stunning views, with a central atrium and café linking the promenade to the beach. The centre opened to the public at 1pm on Friday 5 August, following a ribbon cutting ceremony led by Great Yarmouth Mayor, Councillor Graham Plant.
The project has been funded by Great Yarmouth Borough Council, plus £2.5m secured from the Government’s Getting Building Fund via New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, £1.6m from Sport England, and £500,000 from the Norfolk business rates pool.
The stunning new seafront structure replaces a 1980s centre on the same site which was demolished in 2020. Building began in January 2021, and the centre was handed over to the council’s operating partner Freedom Leisure at the end of July.
Since then Freedom has been carrying out staff training and facility testing, helped by local sports groups and invited guests ahead of the initial public opening.
Council leader Carl Smith said: “We set out to create a health and wellbeing centre fit for the twenty first century and that would help make the lives of our residents healthier and longer.
“Thanks to the fantastic work of our council officers, our construction partners, led by Morgan Sindall, and our advisers and funders including Sport England, New Anglia LEP, and the Norfolk business rates pool, I am confident we have done just that.
“From the start we have been determined that this should be a centre for everyone, whatever your level of confidence, and whether you live in the borough or are visiting us. Our learner pool and confidence gym are aimed at helping improve people’s fitness in a supportive and welcoming way.
“We have made the centre as accessible as possible, including pool pods for those with limited mobility, and a Changing Places restroom.
“Anyone can come in and use the new café and enjoy its brilliant views of the beach and the sea, without paying any entrance fee, and there is free swimming for our residents aged over 75.”
Freedom Leisure chief executive officer Ivan Horsfall Turner said: “The new Marina Centre is an excellent new health and wellbeing facility which offers a great range of activities. Freedom Leisure operate over 100 leisure and entertainment venues across England and Wales, and the Marina is one of the very best.
“We have a great team of people who can’t wait to help the local community and visitors to Great Yarmouth enjoy the new facilities, and we are delighted to be working with Great Yarmouth Borough Council to help improve health and wellbeing in the borough.”
C-J Green, Chair of New Anglia LEP, commented: “The Marina Centre will promote health and wellbeing and provide a much-needed community hub for the town. It also underlines Great Yarmouth’s ambitions for the future and underlines its importance to the wider area.
“The town has so much to be excited about, with multi-million-pound improvements to the town centre, the construction of the Third River Crossing, and the planned regeneration of the North Quay. This top-class sports and community facility will, I’m sure, act as a catalyst for yet more investment and regeneration in Great Yarmouth.”