Last month’s feature “The press gang” showed the first edition of BSj from 30 years ago. I was staggered to see that the main illustrated project was Sunderland’s Crowtree leisure centre.
I was the senior technical resources officer there as a young graduate engineer from 1990 to 1993. Part of my remit was to reduce energy consumption and therefore costs – sustainability was much lower on the agenda in those days!
We installed a JEL Star BMS system and also the first of a new generation of CHP units with remote telemetry. Despite the higher cost of hiring these CHP units, annual savings of £21.5k were guaranteed – and for that sum you could buy a decent-sized home in Sunderland in those days.
The article made me look up what’s happening to Crowtree now, as a few years after I left the ice rink was closed down and there was talk of closing the place altogether. The swimming and gym facilities were, in fact, closed in March this year.
Sadly, a building that was very innovative in its day and is only 30 years old, having been opened by the Prince of Wales in 1978, is set to be demolished within the normal expected lifespan of most of the major building services installations.
Therefore, your magazine has outlived this remarkable and challenging project. It also reminded me that I’m getting older, too!
Mike Smith MCIBSE, technical director, Jacobs UK
Building Sustainable Design