A newly refurbished South Tyneside leisure and community facility has welcomed its first customers.
The Mayor of South Tyneside, Councillor Ken Stephenson, officially opened the new state-of-the-art Jarrow Focus in Cambrian Street, Jarrow.
The opening included the unveiling of a commemorative plaque and ribbon cutting to mark the £3m transformation of the former Jarrow Community Centre building, which features a redesigned gym, sports hall, dance studios, theatre space as well as a new library. A new entrance and external façade has also been created.
The Mayor, who was joined by the Mayoress, Cathy Stephenson, said: "It was a real honour to open this superb new building in the heart of Jarrow Town Centre and it is a very proud and exciting day for all those involved in the project.
"It really does look fabulous. With its first class facilities and services brought together under one roof, Jarrow Focus is a multi-purpose building that will serve to enhance the health and wellbeing of local people. I would encourage residents to take a look at this wonderful new centre for themselves and be among the first to try out the facilities available."
The revamp of the centre is part of the Council's long-term vision for community facilities in South Tyneside and is the latest in a series of investments in the Borough's leisure and library facilities. It follows the creation of Hebburn Central, The Word, National Centre for the Written Word, Haven Point leisure complex and Jarrow Community Pool.
Councillor Alan Kerr, Deputy Leader of South Tyneside Council with responsibility for Culture and Leisure, said: "Jarrow Focus features the latest equipment and technology, making it not only a wonderful modern community hub for the 21st century, but a welcome addition to our wider leisure and community offer.
"It demonstrates our continued commitment to investing in the future of our residents with the official opening of Jarrow Focus marking a key milestone in our delivery of more sustainable services.
"We look forward to seeing the programme of events and activities developing over the coming months, securing its place as an important role within the community and benefiting local people of all ages as well as visitors from across the wider area."
For further information about the Council's range of leisure, library and cultural facilities, visit www.southtyneside.gov.uk
Notes to editors:
Jarrow Focus features a redesignedgym, sports hall, dance studios, changing facilities and theatre space as well as new library.
The redesigned 80-station gym boasts the unique two storey fitness rig 'The Clock', which is ideal for group workouts. It is the first of its kind in UK. Jarrow Focus is also following in the footsteps of Haven Point and Hebburn Central with the introduction of virtual fitness classes incorporating large screen technology and motivational music. The building opens with a programme of 22 virtual classes including the latest Les Mills disciplines as well as 18 instructor led classes.
The revitalised theatre space features a striking new auditorium complete with new lighting and sound systems, a fully refurbished back stage areas and dressing rooms as well as retractable tiered seating for around 170 spectators including additional floor space bringing audience capacity up to 300 people. The theatre is also home to Jarrow Musical Theatre Company.
Jarrow Library has also set up home in the newly fitted library space at Jarrow Focus, giving access to around 17,500 books. It features a designated area for teenagers, including a gaming zone, and provides space for young children with books and bespoke activities aimed at encouraging early reading and learning. The associated lounge area and theatre space will also play host to author talks and library community group activities. The library also provides an enhanced digital offer, with 12 computers being made available to the public as part of the People's Network.
A new lounge area gives views over the upgraded sports hall.