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


patrick1971 said...

The library in Deptford also shares a building with the swimming pool. I always wondered about the practicalities of that; a swimming pool environment is constantly kept heated, so I would have thought the moisture and heat in the building would have made it difficult to store books without them going mouldy. I guess it's well ventilated and air conditioned, but it just seems a strange choice to co-site a library with a pool. But if it works, good luck to everyone!

max said...

As you said Nick, "planning". Or the lack of it.

For what swimming is concerned the list of what the Eltham Centre has is exactly what Lewisham Council wants at Loampit Vale.
Only difference is that Loampit Vale will be sited in a extremely dense urban environment and in front of an important transport interchange.

It is proven that the planning job done by Lewisham Council is completely botched because:
- it does not include any of those large developments that because of the proximity will generate much usage;
- it does not include usage from the transport interchange;
- it does not include usage from the London Borough of Greenwich which is at a stone throw from the site.

I am sure as I can be that when Loampit Vale Pool is built it'll be overcrowded.

Brockley Nick said...

Max, I'm sure you're right about that.

max said...

Unfortunately the problem is not you knowing it, is the Council owning up to it.

max said...

But they don't own up to things much, here's a question I asked at Council the other day:


When was the Cabinet Member for Community Services informed that Legionella Bacteria had been found in the water system of the Ladywell Leisure Centre?


The Cabinet Member for Community Services was informed that legionella bacteria had been found in the showers at Ladywell Leisure Centre on 30 May following its closure the previous evening.


For those that don't know, the bacteria was found in the taps on 2nd April, and the showers were closed on May 16th.

Anonymous said...

People outside of the conservation area wash themselves in a urine-coloured bath.

Anonymous said...

ah max, the curse of the too specific question with an all too specific response.

Perhaps a more apposite question would have been "The Legionella Bacteria was identified in Ladywell pools on 2nd April, why did it take the council six weeks to close the pools?"

Questions have to be absolutely pin sharp then they have less chance to wriggle out of it (but still invariably do!)

all the best Max

max said...

Oh no, that question would be unanswerable. Unless one accepts the possibility that they could be brought to write "because we're clueless".

My question was in part a bet with myself, I wanted to verify if I would have received the answer I thought I would have. And I won.
As a supplementary question I asked how many meetings with people that knew about it she had had during the period.
As usual she "misunderstood" the question and told me that she's on the ball as she had 3 briefings a week "since the closure".
If the same frequency applies to the period before the closure than she met at least 24 times with officers that always forgot to tell her.

Anonymous said...

it's quite a good game, written questions to the council - with Taylor Wimpey (and Barratts) going down the pan in a rush it might be worth asking a few more...

The Brockley Telegraph said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tom said...

how do you ask questions Max? I mean, what's the process?

Anonymous said...

The council website does not appear to give any advice on submitting questions or that you can.

I believe questions have to be submitted 10-12 days before a council meeting and can be sent via e-mail to

Possibly the council should have a generic email address for council questions?

On the day of the council meeting you will recieve the written reply via email or you can pick up a copy at the council meeting.

At the council meeting the Chairman will ask if you have a supplementary question.

I've noticed the supplementary often asks why the original question wasn't answered.

max said...

It's quite amazing that there's nothing about questions on the Council's website, although technically it is there, only that it is there, in the Constitution, pages 88 and 89.

As anon rightly says the email address for your questions is that of
, he works at "governance", so to make sure just call the Council and ask to speak with governance before sending.

I actually never read that point of the Constitution before and I know that it's recently been the subject of an update but it says that questions must be submitted "by midnight on the fifteenth working day before the meeting", that's strange, I thought that the deadline was Monday noon two weeks ahead of the meeting, that's 12 working days normally, for some reason this time the Council meeting was on a Monday so it was 10 days.
I think that the good people of Governance are flexible enough to accept questions submitted in good time anyway, even if you missed the Friday night deadline since nobody is in there to read it until Monday anyway.

Tom said...

thanks. it's one of those curiosities that something like Brockley C. can get hundreds?/thousands? of hits a day and the council don't think to allow us to ask questions.

Before someone (see above) starts harping on with whatever prejudice he found today, this is very much likely to be about old-fashioned hatred of change.

the rest of the world is changing fast, becoming rapidly more transparent and faster-paced, one day local government will do so as well. Not holding my breath though!

creepylesbo said...

Then again, a good example for Lewisham council to follow is simply NOT shutting all the swimming pools! I'd like one in New Cross, please council.

max said...

Another thing that the Council is failing to communicate to residents is about the powers of Local Assemblies, and this is all the more dismaying as they are apparently promoting them right now!

I don't know how many are aware that each LA has the power to place an item onto the Mayor's Agenda, again take a look at the Constitution, pages 111 and 112.

It can be done once a year only but that's a terrific opportunity.
This power was already a feature of Area Fora and I am presumably the only person that ever used it.
The result of my initiative was that the Council had to do a triple somersault to avoid approving it but it still was entertaining.

Anyway, if what a Local Assembly asks the Mayor to so is in line with the Council's general aims and doesn't break the bank then there shouldn't be a reason for denying it.

Anonymous said...

Downham leisure centre is excellent. Free parking for 2.5 hrs, a large swimming pool and gym, GPs, family planning clinic and library. also includes tennis courts and astro turf . plus the prices are very reasonable.

max said...

I agree that Downham is ok but not that it has a large pool.
It's a 25m x 6 lanes pool, the deep end is so shallow that I can stand with my head out and the lanes are so narrow that if two people swim on the same lane they have to be very careful or they'll collide mid pool.
It's a very decent place but in all honesty the pool specs are bog standard.

Richard said...

I recently tried Peckham Pulse for a swim. Nothing amazing, but a decent enough pool, with two lanes set aside at the time. Changing rooms were average, but the place seemed clean and well run.

I was disappointed not to be able to use the gym without a membership (a day pass might have convinced me to sign up), but non-members can use the spa (sauna, steam room & jacuzzi) for just over a fiver. Again, nothing special but clean and good for clearing the pores with no frills!

With Ladywell closed I was pleased to find somewhere within easy reach (5 minute train from Crofton Park, plus 5 minute walk), plus it's right next door to the library.

Brockley Central Label Cloud