We are very proud here at Wapping to enter our second season as anchor tenants of the Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre. Those two international grade waterbases provided possibly the biggest facilities upgrade in hockey history when we moved there from the 27 (or more) year old sand base we were using at the John Orwell Centre, shared with other leisure centre users like footballers and so on.
Our intention throughout has been to complete a relay at the John Orwell to upgrade this facility to also meet a national league specification. The increasing popularity of the club, and our intended expansion into youth & disability provision, means we need three pitches, particularly as we ground share Lee Valley.
Funding for works at John Orwell & a designation as a hockey priority facility was first secured in November of 2013, so it has seemed to some at the club like it has been quite a long process. There has been quite a lot going on however, so here's a fuller update on the John Orwell project:
Phase 1: acquire full use of kit store & repair roof. Completed 2013 thanks to John Orwell centre operators, GLL
Phase 2: install new floodlights and acquire new goals. Completed 2014 thanks to a 6 figure grant from Sport England. Our thanks to England Hockey, London Sport, and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets Sports & Physical Activity team for their work on this.
Phase 3: ancillary works - resurfacing of the car park, provision of step free access to the pitch, scrub clearance and addition of safety fence between pitch and tennis court. Completed 2015.
Phase 4: repair & replacement of remaining boundary fences, resurfacing of pitch, installation of covered spectator seating, including space for wheelchairs, dugouts, changing room upgrade, installation of hockey woods in the sports hall for indoor - now underway.
This has been a very complex project with multiple stakeholders and a capital value of approximately half a million pounds. As you might imagine, we are very excited to be entering the final phase.
So, whilst we remain unsurprisingly committed to continue to use the phenomenal facilities at Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre, we have great plans for the John Orwell Centre too. Standing there, we might, like some jokey car bumper sticker, be able to say our other stadium is hockey's Wembley, but we haven't forgotten our commitment to the people of Wapping & Tower Hamlets.
We are continuing to work on securing further funding, but the clear intention here is that the revitalised facility will allow significant further investment into our hockey programme, with youth & disability provision expanding to match our existing market leading adult set up. We think it is particularly noteworthy that facilities upgrades on this scale have been secured without our subscription levels changing, and we are very grateful to our sponsors & other stakeholders for their help in ensuring we keep our hockey affordable. We will continue to work removing other barriers to participation, such that we provide a "full service" hockey club, where there is a home for everyone.
When this work completes, we will, with three national league standard pitches, with covered spectator seating, have some of the best facilities in England. When combined with improved finances, it puts us in a great position to deliver on the club's objects, namely to encourage community participation in hockey in Wapping and other areas of East London. That makes us very proud, and makes it a very exciting time to be part of Wapping Hockey Club.
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Updated 16:36 - 13 Nov 2015 by Stuart Burnside
Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre: E20 3AD
John Orwell Centre: E1W 2QD
Cape (clubhouse): E1W 1YY
City of London Academy, Bermondsey (overspill pitch): SE1 5LA