What you said about Sunderland’s ‘eighth wonder of the world’

Crowtree Leisure Centre was a firm favourite with many of you.
Crowtree Leisure Centre was a firm favourite with many of you.

It was described as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ when it was constructed.

Many of you still think Crowtree Leisure Centre – with its amazing roof which attracted all the wonderment and the ‘eighth wonder’ tag – would be a great draw if it were still here today.

An aerial view of the roof under construction in 1975.

An aerial view of the roof under construction in 1975.

And when we shared a photo of the roof on social media, alongside a story about its construction, it prompted massive interest.

The original Wearside Echoes story, which we carried nearly two weeks ago, showed the roof in the early stages of its construction in 1975. Coun Ralph Baxter described it at the time as ‘the eighth wonder of the world’.

The post reached almost 40,000 people. More than 80 of you had your say.

We got emails from as far away as Australia.

I used to go to swimming, gymnastics, trampolining and ice skating lessons, the pool was the best though. Such a shame I can’t take my son there to make memories with him, everything about the pool was good from the diving pool to when the waves come on

Jade Royal

One came from Marc Hall who contacted us from Perth and told us: “In the late 1970s I would go to the leisure pool with my mate Mark Reed (wonder where he ended up?).”

He recalled: “Trying to hide from the pool attendants when our wristband colour came up but always getting caught!! The diving board and the wave machine. Was there a way of knowing when the waves were about to start? I’m sure there was.

“Then a couple of years later, with a pair of Bauer Turbo ice skates, I was a regular at the ice rink.”

Marc left home in 1984 to join the army and said: “I’ve not lived in Sunderland since.

Crowtree Road and Leisure Centre.

Crowtree Road and Leisure Centre.

“The last time I was in Sunderland was in October and November 2018 when I was visiting from Australia where I emigrated to in 2007 and it was sad to see it gone. I tried explaining to my 17-year-old son where the leisure centre had been and it brought back great memories.”

Joan Frail, from South Hylton, said: “Happy memories of Crowtree in the swimming pool and the wave machine, and on the ice rink with my little girl teaching her to skate. No longer having to travel to Durham ice rink to do this.

“Later experiencing the joy of the squash courts getting fit.”

Jade Royal also emailed and she told us: “I used to go to swimming, gymnastics, trampolining and ice skating lessons, the pool was the best though.

“Such a shame I can’t take my son there to make memories with him, everything about the pool was good from the diving pool to when the waves come on.”

Jade added: “Sunderland needs another fun pool like this to make swimming more enjoyable for the younger ones to the teenagers.”

Those who replied on social media included Paul David Barron who commented: “Disco nights on a Friday at the ice rink in the 80s were fab. What an absolute shame it’s gone. No wonder kids nowadays just sit in and play on Xbox’s etc.”

Lee Laws agreed and said the venue had “everything under one roof.”

Alex Reay said: “I was there 3 times a week x.”

Thanks also to Doug Roper who reflected: “I grew up in Sunderland in the 80s and Crowtree was THE place to go. Whether it was swimming with the family and desperately getting to the deep end when the wave machine turned on, ice skating with a girl you had a crush on, or playing 5-a-side football, there was always something to do. It was a key part of growing up in the town. Great venue, great memories!”

David Summerson said the centre was “years before it’s time” while Lesley Skates said: “I remember buying my ice skates in the little shop attached to the leisure centre.”

Lisa Marie Shields said she “used to love going here as a kid with my siblings, fab pool and the ice rink was class.”

Frank Williams recalled: “Squash, badminton, weights, bowling, it had something for every age.”

And Lesley Archie remembered: “Skating round the rink in flared jeans, long leather coat n sheepskin mitts in 78 cos it was the fashion.”

Jo Shields said: “I spent all of my childhood there figure skating competitively for Sunderland ice skating club! 6am sessions, after school sessions and most of my weekends inbetween public sessions. Wonderful memories were made. Its so sad that our kids can’t have the same experience.”

Peter Burford commented: “Used to go to the “splash in” on Tuesday and Friday evenings. There was something about them chips in the cafe too, never tasted any like them haha good memories.”

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the post.