27 memories of Sunderland's Crowtree Leisure Centre - a history in pictures

Sunderland's much-loved Crowtree Leisure Centre might be no more, but lots of you still have fond memories of going there, for all sorts of reasons.

By Gary Welford
Thursday, 07 March, 2019, 07:49
Crowtree Leisure Centre

Whether it was swimming, keep fit, boxing, five-a-side football, bowling, ice skating, or some other event, Crowtree was the place to be. It was knocked down six years ago, but here's some pictures of the attraction which was once dubbed 'the eighth wonder of the world' in its glory days.

Crowtree Leisure Centre opened in 1977, with its official opening carried out in May 1978 by Prince Charles, pictured here talking to members of Sunderland Bowling Club.
Crowtree Leisure Centre was a place where folk of all ages went to get fit. Here's the 50 Plus Keep Fit class, pictured in August 1995, with instructor Gill Cowie, left.
As well being a place to keep fit, Crowtree hosted all manner of events, including this visit from the BBC's Antiques Roadshow in 1984.
Flashback to April 1984, when members of staff from the Treasurer's Department at Sunderland Civic Centre took part in a snooker marathon at Crowtree Leisure Centre. Dave Francis is taking a shot.
In May 1986 more than 1,200 people took the plunge for charity at Crowtree Pool. The council's director of recreation Dennis Hinds is pictured setting off the first swimmers from Southmoor School.
Fundraising for charity took off in a big way in the 80s, and Crowtree staged many such events. This was an Aerobics for Africa session in 1986.
Crowtree was home to a National Basketball League team, and fans were out in force to greet Sunderland Maestros when they won the play-offs by beating Crystal Palace at Wembley in 1983.
Bowls was hugely popular at Crowtree, and it was a sad day indeed when the final woods were rolled by Sunderland Indoor Bowls Club in 2013, prior to the leisure centre's closure.
Lots of activities for children were held at Crowtree, including parties for the Chipper Club, run by the Echo. This picture is from a party held in August 1992. Do you recognise anyone?
Crowtree was used by many different groups, including Sunderland University Dance Society, who are pictured in 2005 after winning an award at a contest in Edinburgh.
Crowtree wasn't just a place to have fun - serious stuff happened there too sometimes. This is when it was used for the count for the 2005 General Election.
Eleven-year-old Philip Thompson became the five millionth visitor to Crowtree in October 1981, and was given a commemorative medal to mark the occasion. Wonder if he's still got it?
Five-a-side football was one of the most popular pastimes at Crowtree. This picture is from the Sunderland Primary Schools Finals - we're not sure of the year. Can you help?

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Thousands of youngsters enjoyed football coaching at Crowtree over the years. Here's Sunderland star Marco Gabbiadini at a session with 18 young girls in October 1990.
Ice hockey was a popular sport at Crowtree, with the ice playing host to many teams. Here's Sunderland Cherokees who were English champions in 1996.
Crowtree didn't just play cater for accomplished skaters - lots of novices took their first hesitant steps onto the ice there too. This picture was taken in 1997.
Crowtree hosted several big boxing matches, such as the night in 2009 when Olympic medallist Tony Jeffries beat Roy Meissner in front of a hometown crowd in his second pro fight.
Martial arts was a popular pastime at Crowtree, with many groups meeting there. This picture from June 2001 shows experts demonstrating their skills to raise money for Cancer Research..
Generations of children got their first taste of water-based fun at Crowtree. Here's some little ones enjoying the tropical beach-style paddling pool in 1991.
Space hoppers are usually associated with the 70s, but they remained popular for many years. Here's a group of youngsters using them to keep fit, as well as have fun, in 1994.
The first SunnyCon Japanese Animation and Culture convention was held at Crowtree in 2012. People came from all over the country, dressed as their favourite characters.
Generations of children learned to swim at Crowtree Pool. Here's a class listening intently to their instructor in 1991.
World ice dance champions Jayne Torville and Christopher Dean made it a day to remember for six-year-old Elizabeth Hall, from Southwick, when they called at Crowtree to promote their new book.
Teletubby mania arrived at Crowtree in December 1997, when they were the must-have Christmas toy. Kim Chiliberti won a Po doll for daughter Gabriella at an auction at Crowtree.
Crowtree Pool wasn't just for swimming. Here's instructor Ellen Hargreaves putting a class through their paces at a water aerobics session in September 1987.
Not all the fitness activities at Crowtree were in the water. Here's demonstrator Susan Weatherall-King putting some ladies through their paces at a Guinness workout in 1983.
Thousands of Wearsiders used Crowtree Leisure Centre between 1977, when it opened, and October 2011, when it closed to the public. Thanks for the memories.