TEIGNMOUTH’S Broadmeadow leisure centre is now a highly popular facility, but it had a difficult birth.

An article in January 1977 declared it was finally due to open on March 31, more than three years after it was first started.

‘The trouble-torn building was to have opened its doors on April 1 – but officials thought that in view of its sad history, All Fools’ Day would be tempting fate too much!

It was in early 1974 that the centre was first conceived by the old urban council.

Work began but when Teignbridge council took over, they decided it was not up to standard and ordered the shell to be demolished. After a long delay and much wrangling, work started on a far more grandiose building, but by then the cost had rocked by many thousands of pounds.

Now it appears to be finally ready, but many ratepayers who have to foot the bill describe it as a folly, and fear it could become a white elephant in the future. Running costs are bound to be quite high, and it is unlikely to even remotely pay its way.

Exactly who is going to manage it is still not clear, even now. Understandably Teignbridge Council are just about fed up with the centre which has brought them so many headaches and brickbats.

When the structure is finished they want to more or less wash their hands of it and not become too involved in the day to day running. A steering committee was formed to guide Broadmeadow through its infancy, and it consists of officers and members of Teignbridge Council, Teignmouth Town Council, Devon County Council, Teignmouth Sports Council and the regional sports council.

The committee will meet to set up charges and work out management arrangements. An application is to be made to the regional sports council for a grant towards equipment. Whether the centre will be all that popular with local sportsmen and women remains to be seen.

Badminton is well catered for with five courts, and there are also facilities for basketball, indoor hockey, netball, and other minority sports - but one of the fastest growing pastimes at the moment, squash, has been left out.

Whatever the outcome, Broadmeadow will always stand as a monument to to modest scheme to provide Teignmouth with a sports hall that got completely out of hand, and developed into an expensive farce.