Photographer, Callum Painter captured a Norwich sports centre-turned-skate park before its demolition in 2014

Words by Callum Painter

Decaying buildings and overgrown fields replaced the image of the Lakenham Sports Club in Norwich. Although the gates were locked and the threat of demolition was there, the community attitude that this space sustained surprisingly didn’t dissolve but simply changed hands. This place became a fitting home for the skateboarders of Norwich.

Named ‘Wimbledon’ after its tennis courts, it became a canvas for people of all ages to use after work or school and invent, using various objects found from what seemed an endless scrapstore from the once graceful buildings around it.

The sports centre was truly once at the heart of the community. All four sides of this area shared its perimeter with neighbourhood gardens. Local residents were happy to see people climbing the fence to recycle the derelict place for an unexpected purpose.

A petition to prevent the land being developed into property was started to bring back this social space to the wider community. It gained some ground but in the winter of 2014 contractors were on site tearing up the tennis courts and bulldozing the buildings to the ground.

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