The Walker Lines Gymnasium on the Walker Lines Industrial Estate in Bodmin, popularly known as the Boxing Club, is about to get a much-needed makeover.
“These are exciting times,” said Balu Madhvani the chairman of the WLG Trust which owns the building. “It has been a long haul to get where we are today but our hard work has paid off.”
The Gym was built by the British Army at the beginning of the Second World War but taken over by the American Troops stationed in Bodmin prior to D-Day. It is 80 years old but not yet ready to be pensioned off.
The Trust saved it from closure in 2013 when it raised £50,000 to buy the building from the Town Council. “We knew we were on borrowed time when we bought it,” said Allan Foad, one of the trustees. “It was obvious that the roof would need to be replaced within 10 years and it looks as though we are just going to make it.”
With significant support from Sport England and the late Ronnie Marshall, the Trust has raised over £300,000 to enable it to enter a contract with local builders KBM to roof and clad the building.
Mark Williams, the owner of KBM, who has been a long-time supporter of the boxing club said he was 'delighted' that his firm would be 'playing its part in saving this historic building for the people of Bodmin'.
The Trust is also delighted to have received a £54,000 grant from the Community Infrastructure Levy operated by Cornwall Council to install solar panels on the roof and store power in a stack of batteries. Allan said: “This will significantly reduce our energy bills, our biggest running cost, and we are very grateful for the council’s support.”
The Trustees would also like to thank Paul Riley of Aston Reef Construction for coming on board as their project manager. “We would not have got this far without him”, they said.
The Gym is not only home to the town’s boxing club but it also houses the Bodmin and Liskeard Rifle Clubs in a licensed rifle range, and is used by the dog training group and a martial arts club, plus it has a fully functioning music studio.
“We are open to all, and look forward to accommodating many more users when the building is refurbished," Balu said. "Our maxim is that nobody should be denied access to their chosen activity because of the cost of hiring facilities. We are a community asset.”
But the story is not going to end with the new roof. As soon as the exterior of the building is taken care of, the Trustees will focus on the inside.
“There is a lot more to do and we have a lot more money to raise. This is a community project and all help from the community will be much appreciated,” Balu added.
The building will need to be re-wired and heated, the changing rooms and toilet facilities brought up to modern standards, a new kitchen area built, and both a fitness suite and a multi-purpose room opened up.
With the refurbishment, the name of Ronnie Marshall will be immortalised because the bar is going to be called Ronnie's, and the building will be re-named the SHED – Bodmin’s Activities Centre.
Allan added: “Everyone loves their shed and we will always be a bit scruffy but we will always be welcoming.”
Picture: Jay Capwell