School upset as historic sports dome condemned
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
A unique sports dome, built more than 50 years ago in Ipswich, has been condemned despite being selected as a special interest structure.
The Dale Hall Primary School dome was the first of several built by architect Birkin Howard in 1967 at schools across Ipswich – however the building has now been declared unfit for use.
The dome is one of 54 proposed additions to the Ipswich Borough Council Local List which was drawn up in 2013 to recognise structures in the town with historic or architectural merit.
It is deemed to be “contributing to a distinctive architectural language of sport and recreation in Ipswich in the 20th Century” according to the council.
Joanne Dedicoat, headteacher at the Dale Hall Lane school, said: “Over the years, due to costs, the inside has deteriorated.
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“The ceiling tiles are now falling down so it’s too dangerous for the children to be inside, but it means we now only have one hall to use and makes it difficult to run a lot of activities if they can’t go outside.
“It could be so beautiful and we’d love somebody to take it on and modernise as it’s so unique we want to be a big part of the community.
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“We can’t afford to have it knocked down so if someone else doesn’t it will just sit there wasting away.
“If it is of interest to the town then we’d love to keep it, we just don’t have the cash to do it ourselves.”
Originally a swimming pool, the dome was more recently used for sporting activities and measures 14.5m in diameter.
Carly Ardern attended Dale Hall as a young child in the 1980s and now teaches and runs the netball club there.
“It’s just always been there,” she said. “I have memories of when it was the swimming pool and it was all laid out with the pegs and curtains.
“We had bowls of disinfectant to put our feet in and I remember parents used to come down and help out too.
“It is very different and not your usual type of building so it’s really sad to see the state it is in now.
“Also, when the weather is bad we don’t have anywhere to run netball and other sports inside so we just have to cancel the clubs.
“We have always been a very competitive school and for the kids this is their outlet.”