Great Yarmouth's £26m Marina Centre officially opens
- Credit: James Weeds
The new Marina Centre on Great Yarmouth's Golden Mile is officially open to the public.
Breaking ground in January 2021, the Marina Centre's ongoing development has been eagerly watched by people in the town for over 18 months.
On Friday, councillors and other dignitaries, including Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis, gathered inside the centre's Boardwalk Cafe, taking a tour of the centre's three pools, water flumes and gym with sea views, before the centre was set to begin its 'soft' opening.
Representatives of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, Sports England, New Anglia Local Enterprise, Morgan Sindall and Freedom Leisure gave speeches on the end result of the project and what it means for the town.
During her speech, C-J Green from New Anglia Local Enterprise said: "This project underlines the great ambition that is in the town at the moment.
"Not only will the Marina Centre promote health and wellbeing to visitors, but the development has also had huge benefits already with the local supply chain, providing a combined 182 weeks of training to young people.
"There is much to be excited about in Great Yarmouth."
Freedom Leisure's Matt Wickham agreed with Ms Green, saying that already the company is employing 100 people from the area and they are looking to employ many more.
At noon, borough mayor Graham Plant cut the ribbon to the entrance, declaring the Marina Centre officially open.
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At the launch event, Carl Smith said: "It's a lovely day to be opening the centre. We're really looking forward to seeing people coming in and using the facilities.
"I'm sure it will be really popular.
"I think the whole place is inspirational. It's modern and there is so much to do. I think the confidence gym especially is a great addition. That space is for people to learn and develop their understanding of wellbeing."
Great Yarmouth Labour leader Trevor Wainwright said: "From the minute you walk in the door, you can see how amazing this place is.
"Once people get inside and see what's available, I think it will be a great success."
Mr Wainwright also said he was in support of operators Freedom Leisure working in the community, especially with people in the Nelson ward - which is where the centre is based and is considered to be one of the most deprived areas in the country.
Outreach will be overseen by the Marina Centre's active communities manager, John "Jay" Stephens.
Mr Stephens described his role as one where he will "help bring more people from the community into the conversation".
"This centre is for everyone regardless of the barriers they may face," he said.
During the speeches, it was mentioned that the Marina Centre would not only serve Great Yarmouth in terms of providing access to health facilities, but it will also promote greater investment in the area.
Morgan Sindall area director Alister Broadberry said of the opening: "It's hard to put into words the pride I feel for the team.
"The effort the whole team on the ground has put in, particularly over the last few weeks, is just incredible.
"I'm so pleased with how it has come together. It looks and feels inspirational. For Yarmouth and for everyone involved, it's going to be amazing."
Mr Broadberry revealed there had been some supply issues during the last phase of the build, and he was very proud of the commitment the onsite team had shown during that time.
Danny Branson, senior site manager for Morgan Sindall, said: "We've been working relentlessly since day one.
"It's been a really nice project for us and it's nice to see something so extravagant at the end.
"This is definitely not a one-man band and this project wouldn't be where it is without the hard work of all the team."
Opening times and prices
The Marina Centre is open Monday to Friday from 6.30am until 10pm, Saturdays from 8am until 6.30pm and Sundays from 8.15am until 8pm.
In June, Freedom Leisure - which also operates the Phoenix Leisure Centre in Bradwell - revealed membership prices for access to the pools and gym at the centre.
- Adult swim membership - with access to the swimming and learner pools and a 10pc discount for the leisure pool - is £29.95.
- Dual Site membership - which includes access to the main and learner pools at the Marina Centre and Phoenix Leisure Centre, as well as gym access and a 10pc discount when using leisure water and flumes, climbing wall, and sports bookings - is £39.95.
Currently, prices for one-off Aqua Play sessions are £10 for adults, £8 for concessions and for disabled people, over-75s and children up to the age of 15. Family tickets are £28 and children under three go for free.
For a single entry to the Clip n' Climb, it is £13 for adults, £10 for children under 15 and £36 for a family ticket.
For more information, visit www.freedom-leisure.co.uk/centres/marina-centre/