The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

'A' frame of the National Sports Centre by C20
Reflections in the National Sports Centre pool by C20

Olympic architecture in South London

If you were inspired by the article ‘Landscape with pool’ about the National Sports Centre at Crystal Palace in the Spring C20 magazine, you can visit the stunning interiors on our South London Sports trip on 7 July. The building, listed at Grade II*, was designed in 1953-4 by the LCC Architect’s Department under Sir Leslie Martin, and still looks as modern as ever.

As English Heritage note: “The interiors seen by spectators are of particular interest. … The views across [the central] concourse and seating, and down into squash areas, are particularly impressive. Their fluidity is enhanced by the bold expression of the ‘A’-frame and delicate arched bracing supporting the roof which is a most distinctive and distinguished feature.”

Caseworker and tour-leader Christina Malathouni describes the trip as the Society’s response to London’s Olympic extravaganza! At the time of its commission, Southern England did not have an Olympic-sized pool and this was the first indoor multi-functional hall designed in Britain (though not the first to be built) at a time when such facilities did not exist elsewhere in Europe.

In addition to the National Sports Centre, the tour will visit the 1930s Temple Bowling Club, with its unique first floor indoor ‘green’ first used in the 1934 Empire Games, the recently refurbished Grade II-listed Brockwell Lido, and the Herne Hill Velodrome, the last remaining venue from the 1948 Olympic Games still in active use. Although the site has lacked maintenance over the years, the recently formed Herne Hill Velodrome Trust has resurfaced the track and is actively campaigning for funds to improve cyclist and spectator facilities. Alastair Hanton, trustee of the Herne Hill Velodrome Trust, will also be joining us to say a few words about the plans for the future of the Velodrome.

See the event listing for more details or to book your place.



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