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Report - - Kodak Sports Grounds and Zoom Leisure, Harrow, London - August 2015 | Leisure Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk
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Report - Kodak Sports Grounds and Zoom Leisure, Harrow, London - August 2015

Bertie Bollockbrains

28DL Regular User
Regular User
#1
INTRODUCTION:


I wasn’t sure whether to put this up as a lead or a report as I never made it inside the leisure centre building, but then I did wander around the extensive sports grounds for a good hour. Eventually I decided that it’s just about a report. I think it hasn’t been reported on before.

The Kodak Sports Grounds in Harrow, NW London, were built for the workers of the neighbouring Kodak Plant. It featured football pitches, tennis courts, bowls greens, a rifle range and a small building containing a gym, badminton courts and the usual facilities (but not a swimming pool).

Towards the end of it’s life, Kodak leased the site to a private company for use as a public leisure centre. Unfortunately Zoom Leisure didn’t last too long as Kodak decided that the land, being in London, was just too valuable. So there are now proposals to build hundreds of houses on the site in a development plan worth hundreds of millions of pounds.

HISTORY OF KODAK IN HARROW:

Kodak operates three manufacturing sites across the UK: Harrow (London), Annesley (East Midlands) and Kirkby (Merseyside). Harrow is the largest and oldest site. The Harrow site was acquired in 1890 when Kodak purchased a 7 acre plot of farmland. The factory opened in 1896. At it’s height in the 1950s the factory employed over 6000 people. Today it still manufactures Ektacolor photographic paper and a wide range of graphics film materials.

Of course most people these days have switched to digital cameras and this has really affected the plant at Harrow. Much of the land that Kodak owns has recently been deemed surplus to requirements, including the leisure grounds. A number of buildings that Kodak owned were demolished and in 2008 Kodak and Land Securities formed a partnership to relise the development opportunities arising from this surplus land. Kodak will still continue to operate at Harrow but in a much reduced form.

The original proposal for the surplus land at the Kodak factory site and the adjacent sports grounds was to provide 35975 sq.m. of business and employment space, 985 residential dwellings, 220 units of student accomodation, 9300 sq.m senior living accomodation, 6000 sq.m of retail uses as well as a primary school and health centre. It’s a big plan worth hundreds of millions of pounds (£320 million and rising). In 2012 the Greater London Authority rejected the plans for various reasons and asked Kodak/Land Securities to think again. It seems that this rethinking is still where we stand today, but it is certain that major development will take place here sometime in the future.

HISTORY OF THE KODAK SPORTS GROUND:

Built for the workers of the Kodak Plan back in the days when employers cared about their workforce and knew that a happy workforce were more productive. How different it is today! In my office for example and in an attempt to save money, they no longer supply milk. Strangely coffee is still supplied, so black coffee is now my normal work drink.

Anyways the Kodak Sports Grounds were certainly around by 1950 as this is a photo of the chief boss of Kodak Australasia at the Kodak Sports Grounds in June of that year:

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Kodak had it’s own football team which played in the Hertsfordshire county leagues. They joined the London Commercial League (never heard of it) in 1973. In the 2005/6 season they won the MCFA Intermediate Cup (umm never heard of that tournament too).

In recent years Kodak leased the grounds out as a public leisure centre called Zoom Leisure. Sadly the public leisure centre closed in September 2011 as Kodak realised the the land was much more valuable as potential housing development. The Kodak football team still exists but plays elsewhere.

Some photos from the grounds when it was in use:

Inside the clubhouse
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Notice the Kodak Plant in the background
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In November 2013 the sports grounds were invaded by travellers with 15 caravans as can be read here in a local newspaper:


REPORT:


Unfortunately I was unable to enter the buildings. All windows and doors are secured by metal sheeting and they have done a good job with no signs of weakness. The building is covered with PIRs and I did set off the alarms. So I left the site and observed from a public road. When I worked out that no security were coming I went back in and wandered around the grounds.

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Bowls clubhouse and 2 bowls greens
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Old sports pavilion
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Football dugout alongside one of 3 full-sized football pitches
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Notice the Kodak Plant in the background
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Football would be much more exciting if the grass was this long me thinks
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Warning sign marking the boundary of a shooting range
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Firing positions amongst the undergrowth
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and the shooting range
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Small pavilion at the 7 tennis courts
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Thanks for reading
 

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