Great Sankey Forum

Our recent drive to gather memories, photographs, and ephemera relating to West Warrington was inspired by the upcoming construction of the new Sankey Community Hub. With this in mind it seems fitting to look at the hub’s erstwhile predecessor the ‘Great Sankey Forum’.

The official opening of the Forum took place on Saturday 2nd April 1977. Mayor Tom Pye unveiled a commemorative plaque followed by displays of various sports and a cabaret dance.

The Forum, sited next to Great Sankey High School on Barrow Hall Lane, whilst not fully completed by the opening date, was eventually to include a large sports hall, a gymnasium, two swimming pools, three squash courts and an arts theatre, as well as tennis courts and an all weather pitch.

On 22nd December 1977 the Warrington Guardian reports that there was public protest against plans to remove a juke box and pool tables from the Forum. The Management Committee felt that they “attract the wrong sort of people”. Users of the bar at the Forum raised a 500 name petition in favour of keeping them, with Mr. Barry Millwaters, an organiser of the petition, telling the Guardian that “it seems as if they want to attract the executive type of person who plays squash”. The committee stated that people did obviously want the pool tables, but that they were “the wrong type of people”.

Whilst we don’t have any photographs of the Forum, we do have various flyers from throughout its history. They advertise the various events and activities taking place across the years. I have copied a couple into this blog entry as they show interesting parts of the Forum’s work trying to encourage all sorts of people to access sports.

The picture above was taken from a flyer showing Warrington Disabled Sports Day 1980, held at the Forum by Warrington Sports Club for the Disabled.

The second item, shown below, is from 1984 and shows a list of free sports activities for unemployed people at Warrington’s various sports centres including free Squash lessons at the Forum.

Do you have any pictures of the Great Sankey Forum that are better than our grainy flyers? Or do you remember taking part in an event there that you could tell us about? We would love to make a scanned copy of any pictures you would lend us, or record any memories you want to share, so why not help to make sure that Great Sankey Forum is recorded in the town’s memory.

Contact Philip Jeffs at pjeffs@culturewarrington.org

This article was originally posted on Friday, March 24th, 2017.