CROWTREE has crumbled.
The interior walls of Sunderland’s much-loved Crowtree Leisure Centre have now been entirely demolished with just the shell remaining.
Contractor Willmott Dixon will remove the external walls in the next fortnight as the site is cleared for development.
Despite Facebook campaigns to save the large scale leisure centre, it’s being razed to the ground as part of the council’s 15-year economic masterplan.
Across the road, the former Brogans and Privilege nightspots are in the midst of being demolished as part of work due to start on a new public square in the Gill Bridge Avenue area.
It’s expected that the former Crowtree Leisure Centre site will be used for an extension to The Bridges.
Crowtree has been closed to the general public since October 2011, though it was still used by several clubs and organisations for block bookings.
The leisure centre opened its doors back in 1977.
Plans for the £5million Crowtree complex were given the official seal of approval by council chiefs in 1971 – but it would be another six years before work was completed.
Councillor Tony Burgham, the Mayor of Sunderland, was tasked with laying the foundation stone for what was then the biggest building in the North East on April 3, 1975.
Just a few months later, on October 5, building engineers officially raised the roof.
Huge crowds gathered to watch as all three acres – and 800 tons – of it were lifted into place. “It seems to be the Eighth Wonder of the World, judging by the amount of interest it has aroused with the public,” commented Councillor Ralph Baxter at the time.
Two years later, in November 1977, the first phase of the sports centre opened its doors.
At the time hundreds of Wearsiders flocking to try out the ice rink for free.
Next to open were the sports hall, squash courts and bowls hall, quickly followed by the palm tree-lined leisure pool, sauna suite, restaurant and bars.
Wearsiders quickly took Crowtree to their hearts and, by June 1980, more than three million people had poured through its doors – at an average of 28,230 a week.
In recent years, numbers dwindled at the centre leading, in part, to its closure.