GALLERY: Wisbech the heart of booming oak company as £2million Tydd leisure complex opened by Joe Calzaghe
PUBLISHED: 12:31 18 February 2013 | UPDATED: 12:31 18 February 2013
HE began with a barn conversion that won a Cambs Times/Wisbech Standard building design award and six years later David Worrall is celebrating completion of a £2million leisure complex.
Guests including world boxing champion Joe Calzaghe were among those at Tydd St Giles Golf and Country Club for the official opening of the new leisure complex built in Wisbech by Mr Worrall’s company Bespoke Oak.
But it was nearly never so since multi millionaire entrepreneur John Morphet who owns leisure centres across the UK had commissioned a steel and glass structure as the focal point.
“His managing director Adrian Hurst came round to celebrate the completion of my barn conversion and got talking about what was planned at Tydd,” said Mr Worrall.
“He then asked if I would ‘do a punt’ and come up with a design for Tydd made of oak and with no guarantees. It cost me £15,000.”
His design was accepted and the job of building what Mr Morphet has summed up as “the finest building on a leisure complex in England” got under way.
Mr Worrall said: “Mr Morphet used that phrase when he came here a week ago. He had not seen the building since the concept stage and also told me he was ‘gob smacked’ by it.”
The results are spectacular and Mr Worrall’s company has won two new commissions on the strength of the Tydd project.
“Two individuals have commissioned us,” he said. “One is for a private estate at North Runcton on Norfolk so even if we have broken even on our first building – much of which we had to guesstimate- it has attracted considerable interest for the future.”
Mr Worrall is a local boy- his parents once ran Friday Bridge Camp and he is an old boy of Wisbech Grammar School- but has worked abroad for many years before returning to the Fens.
“Everything you see here was built in Wisbech and transferred here,” he said, pointing to the oak framed structure that was put together using crafts dating hundreds of years.
He says there is only one other building similar to it in England- and that is the visitors centre at Sandringham and owned by The Queen.
Mr Worrall is passionate both about his work and about the Fens and believes far too many are ready to criticise the latter.
“I don’t see why the Fens has such a bad name,” he says. “You have to have a vision- and this building is a vision. It is not only national but international and if anyone knocks this place then they have an axe to grind.”
Mr Hurst said the leisure complex features a heated indoor pool with a coco jet machine, which controls the water current, steam room and sauna, as well as a fully air-conditioned fitness suite.
He added: “Visitors will get the chance to ‘try before they buy’ as all of the new facilities will be free to use during the week.”
Tydd St Giles Golf & Country Club first opened as a nine-hole golf course in 1995 and became a holiday venue in 2009 with the addition of seven holiday lodges.
The country club, which is celebrating its 18th anniversary this year, now spans more than 150 acres. The holiday lodges have been created around an 18-hole golf course and lake.
Ken Doughty of the golf club said: “This is a beautiful place and I’m very proud to be part of it. I was the first person to walk through the door in 1995 before the golf club opened and I now believe this will be the biggest step forward since then.
“We have always struggled to get very good players but with this new adjoining leisure complex I am confident of the future.”