Sunday, June 9, 2013

Lewisham's expanding leisure facilities courtesy of Con-Fusion

Lewisham's main "leisure contractors" Fusion Lifetyles took over from Parkwood Leisure in around October 2011.

For users of Wavelengths, this has resulted in cockroaches in the sauna, a dirty pool, dirty changing rooms and filthy showers. The gym took over a year to deliver. Much of what was promised still has to be delivered. In the new sauna, there are no cold showers, only warm ones. The cold showers have been replaced by an 'ice room'. This is basically a large bucket of ice which users are supposed to drench themselves in, but is in fact being used to chill soft drinks, with some users drinking the ice that other users have just doused their sweat in. Music plays in the warm showers with no guidance on how to turn it off or down.

The centre's User Guide advises sauna users to use the cold shower or plunge pool afterwards but these are not available. It used to cost £6.25 to combine a swim and sauna. It now costs £3 extra to swim since there is no longer any connection between the two facilities – users must dry off and dress to cross from one to the other.

Meanwhile, it's announced that a "£20 million leisure centre opens in the heart of Lewisham on Monday". When a disgruntled Wavelengths user complained about Fusion's facilities last week, he was told to go to Glass Mill instead. "Con-Fusion" is how he describes the present regime at Wavelengths.

Here's the Press Release for the Glass Mill Leisure Centre. More PUFF than a steam engine enthusiasts' convention...
On  Monday 10 June, Glass Mill – Lewisham’s flagship new leisure centre – will open to the public.

The £20m centre, located on Loampit Vale, has been designed by leisure specialists LA Architects and will be operated by registered charity Fusion Lifestyle on behalf of Lewisham Council. The contractor for Glass Mill is Pellikaan, with additional works by Barratt Homes who are developing the adjacent ‘Renaissance’ scheme.

Glass Mill has superb environmental credentials and will offer a range of the most up-to-date facilities and equipment. As well as a regional competition standard 8-lane swimming pool with seating for 300 spectators, there will be a 20m training pool, a 100-station gym, a climbing wall, a creche and two studios offering a programme of classes. Users of the leisure centre will also be able to pamper themselves in a health suite with treatment rooms and sauna, steam and ‘ice’ rooms.

Great thought has gone into changing areas with separate male and female changing as well as specific areas for families and people with disabilities. The centre is fully accessible and includes moveable floors in both pools, changing cubicles with wheelchair access and signage suitable for the visually impaired. 

A key feature of the building is the stunning display of over 1,800 coloured tiles, designed by artist Phil Coy, that form the façade and carry through into a rainbow of light in the various parts of the centre. Glass Mill’s exterior also includes a lighting display that changes in line with the surrounding soundscape. 

A full menu of delicious food and refreshing drinks will be on offer throughout the day at the Rhubarb and Custard Café. Items served up by Rhubarb and Custard’s resident chef and dedicated staff will include gourmet burgers, healthy salads, coffee and homemade cakes, and a children’s menu. This local firm – a former recipient of a Mayor Of Lewisham Business Award – already has a committed following in its local neighbourhood of Lee and also operates the café at Wavelengths Leisure Centre in Deptford. 

Mayor of Lewisham, Sir Steve Bullock, took a dip in the new swimming pool and said: “I am delighted to mark the open of this outstanding new leisure centre. Glass Mill is the culmination of over a decade of leisure investment in the borough.
“There is now a real opportunity for local people to take part in affordable leisure in all areas around the borough. That is what we have always been aiming for. ” 

Fusion Lifestyle Chief Executive, Pete Kay said of the opening: "We are extremely impressed with the high standard of facilities now on offer at Glass Mill Leisure Centre and are proud and excited to begin the management of this fantastic centre.

“We believe that the opening of Glass Mill will make a real difference to the local community by providing first-rate sport, swimming and fitness facilities at an affordable price, and Fusion Lifestyle are committed to continuous development of our programmes and activities in order to offer new opportunities for everyone in Lewisham.” 

Alastair Baird, Managing Director of Barratt London said: “We have great pleasure in delivering a landmark building for Lewisham as part of the wider Renaissance development.”


  1. The new Glass Mill main pool is actually 25m, which is the standard measure all pools are built around nowadays. It also has a 20m pool which is the learner pool. Ladywell Pool is (was) 33.5m, not 50m and the learner pool was just a bit smaller.

    Ladywell Pool was a 6 lanes x 33m and Glass Mill is a 8 lanes x 25m so in total they offer an identical 200m length.

    Personally I prefer the 33m experience (even over a 50m pool which can be a bit arduous for many)and I would also argue that it would have been much better if it had been a 10 lanes pool if not a full 50m Olympic pool, but it's a straight replacement with a little upgrade on the teaching pool side.

    It's neverhteless an expensive exercise in futility, Ladywell Pool was in excellent condition when it closed its doors for the last time today.

    Had it been bigger it would have been worth its while. As it is the only real beneficiaries are the investors in the Loampit Vale development as the pool increases the value of the properties built there.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Max, and for the correction on pool lengths. Have removed the misinformation in the post.