The Eltham Centre

Yesterday, forced to look further afield for swimming options, Brockley Central visited the Eltham Centre, Greenwich's latest community pool.

The Eltham Centre replaces Eltham's old, urine-coloured baths that have now closed down. The pool is dedicated to proper swimming, with none of the slides and rapids to be found at Woolwich Waterfront.

Squeezed just behind the high street, on to a site that, parking included, is probably equivalent to the Brockley Cross timber yard, it includes an 8 lane pool, a children's pool, a 100 station fitness centre, a creche and a spa, as well as the area's Citizen's Advice Bureau, a library and a coffee shop. By combining these facilities, the Council has created a genuine community centre that reduces the cost of providing these separate but vital functions:

  • The CAB and Library means that there are additional reasons for people who might not otherwise step inside a sports centre to give it a go.
  • The creche means that carers have the opportunity to take some exercise
  • The cafe makes it more likely that parents will be willing to hang around while their children take a swim.
In other words, it's designed to maximise usage and opportunity, while minimising the public cost.

For a variety of obvious reasons, we couldn't get a photo of the pool area, but it's light and includes a viewing gallery. The children's pool is a few feet from the main pool, so parents can move between the two easily. The changing rooms are large, with good facilities for families and baby-changing.

This hastily-grabbed shot is the central atrium, from which all of the facilities lead. It gives a good impression of the design aesthetic that runs throughout.

We visited the pool at 6pm on Wednesday, at which time it was well-used but not packed. There were swimming classes taking place in half the lanes, with a further four lanes for general use.
There's been a lot of discussion on this thread about sports facilities in Lewisham and what the Council should be aspiring to. In our view, The Eltham Centre is a good model for Lewisham to study while planning the new pool in Lewisham town centre. It even has an "active frontage" for - a decked sun terrace.

The Eltham Centre

2 Archery Road
020 8921 4344