Memories of Sunderland: The Crowtree Leisure Centre

The Crowtree Leisure Centre was opened in 1978 by HRC Prince Charles, who is now King Charles. The centre dominated the west side of Crowtree Road and before it was built it was home to a number of well-known retailers. It was once one of the most successful and popular leisure centres in the country and many happy childhood memories were created here. Whether you were going for a swim or ice skating it had it all. 

However, the centre gradually fell into decline and the ice rink closed in 2000, and the gym and swimming pool closed in 2008, with the demolition of the building finally taking place in 2013. It was the end of an era. Most people knew when the Aquatic Centre opened on 18 April 2008 with its Olympic-sized swimming pool, diving pool and gymnasium next to the Stadium of Light that Crowtree Lesure Centre was not going to stay up much longer. 

However, just last year plans were unveiled for an £80m new leisure development. Sunderland City Council set out a game-changing vision for the site of the former Crowtree Leisure Centre with plans for a massive leisure investment anchored by a new 10,000-capacity, multi-purpose arena, that will bring hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city every year. 

This multi-leisure development will feature a food hall, restaurant, hotel and studios. This project attracted over £20m in funding from Sunderland City Council and National Government. It will deliver a huge boost to businesses in the heart of the city and will be a vibrant visitor attraction by day and night. 

Councillor Graeme Miller, Leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “The rate of transformation in our city points to the level of regeneration we are delivering for Sunderland and this development raises that bar higher. 

“We set out an ambition to bring more experiences to the city as part of our Riverside Sunderland investment strategy, and you only have to look at the change to date in the city centre to see that it is more than aspiration- it’s something we’re determined to make a reality.

“We’re transforming Sunderland- we’re delivering on our promises to residents- and we’re proud to be spearheading a programme of change in Sunderland that is unlike any period of change in living memory. This new investment will be an incredible addition to the city centre”.  

As much as this scheme planned to create a much richer mix of attractions and is updating the city, there are still going to be fond memories of the old buildings including Crowtree that once stood. Below are images of the Crowtree Leisure Centre before its demolition while it was not in use…

Photo Credit: This is Sunderland. All photos are taken by Andy Martin