Blackheath & Bromley Harriers AC’s new Community Sports Centre at Norman Park in Bromley was officially opened on Saturday, 18th March, 2023, by The Worshipful the Mayor of Bromley Councillor Hannah Gray. This marks the culmination of a project that has its roots in discussions with the London Borough of Bromley, commencing in 2013, concerning the possibility of the Club taking over the responsibility for the operation and management of the existing track. These led to the formulation of an ambitious plan, involving the transfer of the track on a long lease to the Club, who would move their Hayes Clubhouse and develop a new sports centre for the community at the track in order to underpin the long term future of the facility.
With the ribbon cutting ceremony appropriately conducted by the Mayor, the symbolic transfer from the Council was concluded and a new era for the Club and the local community has begun. Also in attendance were: local Members of Parliament, Bob Stewart and Gareth Bacon; London Assembly Member, Peter Fortune; representatives of England Athletics, the Project Team and the Jack Sims Trust; significant benefactors; and many of the Club’s Olympians and Past Presidents, together with the Club Trustees and Management Committee.
The Mayor of Bromley, Cllr Hannah Gray, commented: “It is wonderful that Bromley Council has been able to help and support the growth of Blackheath & Bromley Harriers in this way. Sport can play such an important role in the lives of a community, so I look forward to seeing Blackheath & Bromley Harriers go from strength to strength at this new community sports centre, making athletics available to the local community and nurturing the champions of the future.”
President of the Club, David Appleton, said: ‘Today has seen another landmark in the 150 year history of our fantastic Club which will secure our new home at the centre of the local community for the next 120 years. We look forward now to working with the community to improve further the sporting and recreational opportunities for all at our new Centre.’
Trustee and parent, Julie Asher-Smith, said: ‘Runners, jumpers and throwers come from here! Road runners, rugby internationals – male and female – and even bobsleighers. It starts here. It starts here with the care and attention of the dedicated people that give their time freely, as coaches, officials, mentors and volunteers. Welcome to Norman Park Community Sports Centre. All are very welcome here.’
To end his speech on behalf of the Project Team describing the background and challenges to the Project, Trustee, Tim Soutar, quoted an excerpt from the Club’s Centenary History relating to a previous move of the Club’s – that from Peckham to Blackheath in 1878 – but which could have equally been a description of their latest achievement. “Beyond the superior and comfortable accommodation of which they were now possessed there was the acquisition of a new security and dynamic which they inherited in this removal. It was without question the most important single event in the Club’s history. The distance they had moved was slight… but for the Club it was a decision of moment.’’
The Centre is managed for the Club by Norman Park Track Management Ltd who have looked after the track under contract from the Borough for many years. Enquiries relating to bookings and scheduled activities should be made to firstname.lastname@example.org.