This building was presented by Hucknall Huthwaite Urban District Councillors in 1902 to provide additional Council Schools sited off a later addressed New Street. Right side entry into renamed John Davis Junior classrooms therefore embossed a very familiar sight into the memories of all children, up until 1977 closure brought about by a major Nottinghamshire educational reorganisation.
Ashfield District Council adapted this former primary school in an era that began promoting healthier activities. Their 1982 opening of Huthwaite Leisure Centre was suitably equipped with gym apparatus, plus game and health rooms. Rear playground turned into a car park, a ramp inviting disabled access.
Changing room showers catered for all the sweaty exertions. Available activities included gymnasium membership, with either private or party bookings for a tanning bed, sauna, table tennis and badminton court. The snooker table was particularly well kept by Mrs Allison Shore, and like most popular amenities, usually needed booking well in advance.
Entering central corridor often proved sufficient to conjure childhood memories of the school assembly hall. All rear classrooms had however been combined to present a badminton court sized function hall. Private hire of this largest room would present group use far to numerous to list. Examples range from relaxation and yoga through self defence to several martial arts variations. A myriad of motivational exercises went from step aerobics and Zumba to extreme circuit training by Anne Marie. Country & Western line dancing recalls yet another popular phase, while full age range is recognised by an afternoon preschool Little Gems playgroup.
Huthwaite Community Action Group invited interest setting up their 2006 public display. Hosting larger club meetings had included weight watchers or slimming groups. A kitchen helped prepare and serve buffet food and sandwich snacks for many social parties commonly celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and wedding receptions. One divorce settlement even entertained a disco DJ.
Just hiring out the licensed bar usually gave enough room for all likewise private parties. Our 1976 Secondary class held a ten year reunion here, allowing most of us to reminisce of starting school in this very building. Johnny Miller had been a familiar figure through the Huthwaite Leisure Centres initial years. Whether or not he was the first appointed manager here isn't clear, but as our local football celebrity, my later personal friend was known to be assistant manager at the Sutton Leisure Centre. He was at least professionally consulted, especially when equipping this gym also later utilised some of Sutton's refurbished machinery.
The 2006 incorporation of a Sports Leisure Management Company appeared to favour Ashfield Councils economy drive seeking district cutbacks. ADC appointed SLM Ltd to take over managing Huthwaite Leisure Centre amongst its other district facilities. Staff worried about the takeover. But even recurring threat of closure didn't stop senior members voicing displeasure at custom disrupting a quieter regime.
Controversially siting a superior Lammas Leisure Centre for November 2008 opening, led Ashfield District Council to issue a more serious 2009 notice of impending closure. However, plans were yet again withdrawn in 2014 due to another strong public protest reported by Chad.
Chad showed a smaller group of protesters leading next 2017 protest against the repeated threat towards inevitable closure.
There's little point criticising how collection and biased use of data would officially report a damning October 2016 Leisure Review Transformation Programme. The clear intention was to present a good enough reason for finally closing smaller centres such as Huthwaite..
July 2017 marked end of a somewhat tenuous 35 years, but that didn't even afford an immediate saving. The need to give SLM Ltd 6 months notice finds the officially registered closure terminated on 19th Jan 2018.
Further contentious plans for demolition in order to build housing were halted under newly elected leadership of Ashfield Independents. Coun Zadrozny also revealed the former leaders had only just made extremely costly improvements, by replacing the roof and all electrics.
Its actually an unbelievable story all told, and if adding latest schooling dilemma, could it be as daft to consider turning New Street NG17 2RL back into class rooms !