Redbridge Celebrates 50 Years of Service

Published on: June 15th 2022

Redbridge Sports & Leisure, one of the UK’s longest-running sporting Charitable Trusts, is celebrating 50 years of service to the sports and fitness sector in North East London. 

Opened by HRH Princess Alexandra, on 15th June 1972, Redbridge Sports and Leisure (RSL), formally opened its doors as a racket sports venue. The driving force behind the Centre’s very existence was founder Chairman and President, the late Norman Booth MBE, who led fundraising efforts to build the Centre when North Ilford Tennis club was forced to close in the late 1960s.

From conception, the centre (located less than 200 yards from Fairlop tube station), which is fully self-funded, has been committed to being a community and family-friendly venue providing affordable access to the highest standards of sports and leisure facilities for local, regional, national and international visitors.

RSL has expanded through 10 major phases of development over the course of the last 50 years, the most significant being in 2012, opening the Jean Brown Indoor Arena, which was used as am Olympic & Paralympic Games Time Training Venue during the London 2012 games for Badminton, Judo, Wrestling and Goalball. As an Olympic legacy venue, the Arena now hosts the Centre’s own programme of activity along with being a competition venue for sport’s governing bodies from Badminton, Dance, Gymnastics, Martial Arts, Netball and Table Tennis. 

More recently the Centre has undergone several refurbishment projects, upgrading the Astroturf pitches and Indoor Tennis courts, with a green focus to reduce the Centre’s carbon footprint through locally sourced suppliers and making the energy efficient change to LED lighting. The Centre boasts 8 Indoor and 6 Outdoor Tennis courts,12 Badminton courts, 7 Squash Courts, A state-of-the-art gym, Group Exercise studios, plus 2 full-sized Astroturf pitches and 12 Outdoor Netball courts and so much more, and prides itself on offering something for everyone, no matter their age, gender or experience level.

RSL also exists as a hub for the local community and is the venue of choice for over 300 voluntary sports clubs, many local primary and secondary schools, as well being one of the hosts for the London Youth Games, which is attended by young people from all of the London Boroughs.

As a community facility, a unique part of the Centre’s success is the experience of its team of staff, many of whom have worked for the Trust for more than 20 years, dedicating their professional lives to providing valuable service to the Centre’s members and guests.

Chief Executive, Ken Leggate said “What the Centre offers the local and wider sporting community is quite remarkable. The idea of a multisports centre was revolutionary back in the late 1960s, making RSL one of the pioneering sites of the time. That the range and quality of facilities on offer remain relevant and valued to this day are a testament to the work of the Centre’s Trustees, Management Team and staff, as well as the unwavering support of so many members over the years. The challenges of the pandemic have been significant, with so many facilities permanently closing as a result, and we continue to strive to appeal to the needs of all of our users and hope to welcome many more into the Centre in the months and years ahead” 

To celebrate this momentous anniversary, Redbridge Sports and Leisure is hosting a year of anniversary events throughout 2022. In launching the celebrations, RSL are promoting a £50,000 giveaway in discounted access to the local community as well as offering an expanded range of fitness classes including small group gym-floor training and a dedicated Teen Fit programme, loyalty rewards for existing members and a membership offer with half-price discounts for new joiners from the local area.