St Albans sports centre destroyed by fire - updated

BATCHWOOD Sports Centre was almost completely destroyed by an overnight fire.

The blaze, which was reported at around 2.30am, started well after the adjacent Batchwood Hall nightclub closed at 11pm yesterday evening, and no-one is thought to have been hurt.

The fire is not thought to be connected to public order disturbances elsewhere in the country, but the cause is not yet known and the council is helping the police and fire services with their investigation.

Both the tennis centre - thought to be one of the first indoor facilities in the country - and the bowls club have been totally destroyed, although fire crews were able to save part of the gym.

The site is currently closed, but council officers are on site and hope to get selected facilities open later in the week.

Council leisure chief Richard Shwe said: “The entire site has gone. The tennis centre is no longer there and the fire has gutted the bowls area, although the fire services were able to save the gym.

“I will be talking to the chief executive of the Lawn Tennis Association later today about our options.”

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Cllr Mike Wakely, portfolio holder for sports, leisure and heritage at St Albans Council said: “Thankfully it seems that no-one has been hurt in last night’s Batchwood Sports Centre fire. Council officers have been on site since early this morning, supporting police and fire officers, assessing the damage and securing the site.

“It is a terrible shame to have lost a fine sports centre in this way.”

Two members of the bowls club who were on the scene this morning were obviously devastated by the destruction. Although they asked not to be named, they told the Herts Advertiser: “We heard from our grandson, who is a firefighter. We’ve been members of the club for over 20 years - all our bowls and our wets were in our lockers, and all the things we’ve collected over the years. The club only put up its new extension a couple of years ago.”

Keep checking this website for further updates throughout the day.