Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centre is celebrating its 40th birthday by officially opening its new flumes and offering the chance to try its exercise classes at 1970s prices.
The centre in Beeton’s Way opened on June 26, 1975, though it had no gym, only a weight training room, and no athletics arena. But it did have the only swimming pool in the area at 22p a session and a rifle range in the basement for smooth-bore antique guns and .22 rifles.
Now managed by Abbeycroft Leisure in partnership with St Edmundsbury Borough Council, it attracts 570,000 visitor a year.
It marked its 40th birthday today with the official opening of the new swimming pool flumes which had been named in a schools competition.
Alfie Jeffery, six, from Rougham Primary School, called the purple plume The Twister while Grace Gillard and Millie Stone, from Tollgate Primary School, named the green one Aqua Rush.
A birthday cake was cut by Julie Bloomfield and Tim Bone who both began as supervisors at the centre when it opened, both going on to become assistant managers while Tim became a manager..
Tim said: “People are much more involved with their health now. In those days, swimming was the big attraction.
“The weight training room only had a capacity of 16.”
Yet he said they had 100 yard long queues outside the centre at peak times and took only a couple of years to reach a million visits.
For Julie, as a sporty 20-year-old, the job at the centre was ‘a dream come true’.
“I had worked in the old pool on the Cattle Market and worked in a bank for a while, but that wasn’t for me,” she recalled.
“When this opened, Mr King, who had been the engineer at the old pool and was engineer here, put my name forward. I was the only woman here.”
Tomorrow (Saturday) the centre will offer free flume rides for every swimmer (subject to height) throughout the day.
Saturday will also see group exercise classes available for ‘70s prices at just 20p with proceeds donated to St Nichols Hospice Care. Participants can choose from 45 minute long classes including Legs, Bums and Tum with 70s aerobics, Body Step, Body Pump, CX Worx, Bodyvive, and Power Yoga. Pre booking is essential.
An exhibition of photographs and memorabilia looking back over the Centre’s 40-year history is being created and will be displayed in the in the leisure centre.
Simon Ginders-Coxshall, Abbeycroft’s Operations Director, said: “Forty years is a fantastic achievement and we want to share that with customers and staff.”