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Sir Sidney Kimber and the development of Southampton Sports Centre - Part 2

"I can picture that area of land converted under expert advice and experienced treatment into a vast civic sports centre where, at any one time, many hundreds of girls and boys, men and women, from childhood to old age, can indulge in all forms of outdoor games under picturesque and ideal surroundings, easily accessible by buses at prices that would inflict no hardship. It will bring health and enjoyment and new interests into their lives.”


I then referred to the many uses that the prospect envisaged and mentioned, amongst other games, golf as I knew the prejudice at that time against what was instanced as “the rich man’s game." I said:


"There is room for both an eighteen-hole and a nine-hole course. Golf is the only outdoor game that can be played all the year round; it is playable by both sexes from childhood to the grave, and is the most alluring, health-giving and exasperating of all games.... I am anxious that the workers shall take up golf and propose to enable them to play a game of nine holes for 1s., or eighteen holes for 1s. 6d."


I concluded by pointing out the picturesque qualities of the site and the advantage of having such a large space for sport and recreation for all under one management. The Mayor, Mr. Hector Young, formally seconded. The Labour Party at once voiced their disagreement, Councillors F. S. Smith, Brighton, Vincent and Dimmick speaking against, supported by {independent members, comprising Aldermen Brown, Hollis and Mouland, whereas speaking in favour of the scheme were Councillors Smalley and Hood. The main contentions were: (a) expense, (b) lack of housing accommodation, (c) golf was unnecessary.


After a long discussion and two futile amendments, the main question was put and the scheme was rejected by 26 votes to 21, the only Labour member voting for it being Dr. Knowlton. Lack of foresight and judgment had again handicapped the welfare of Southampton.


Time went on. Two important pieces of the land were sold for building purposes - the portion comprising the brickworks in Coxford Road which I had in mind for a swimming pool, and the other at the extreme northern end, now a portion of Romandene Estate - and to make matters worse the Town Planning Committee stepped in and scheduled the remaining portion and decided to drive an arterial road sixty feet wide right through the land.


Nearly three years after the rejection of the scheme, I again, on May 3rd, 1933, put down a similar notice of motion, only this time the acreage had to be reduced to 278 from 293. My speech in making the proposal was similar to that of 1930, and ended with these words:

FromChapter 10 in Thirty Eight Years of Public Life in Southampton” Sir Sidney Kimber

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10

Read the Southern Daily Echo’s report (28 May 1938) of the opening of the Sports Centre by the Duke of Kent (report located in Council Archives by Arthur Goode).

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