The Sports Centre was the inspiration of Sir Sidney Kimber, an Alderman and twice Mayor of Southampton. At a council meeting on 17 September 1930, he proposed a scheme for a large public sports park, comprising of facilities for golf, cricket, football, tennis and bowls. The site he suggested was about 293 acres of land between Bassett and Lordswood. Although the council rejected this proposal, he tried again in 1933, this time succeeding.

The golf courses were the first to open in September 1935 and the Sports Centre was officially opened by Duke and Duchess of Kent on 28 May 1938. According to The Southern Daily Echo it was "generally admitted to be the finest in Britain" and the Duke declared that "I have been much impressed during my short drive through the Sports Centre with the excellence of the lay-out".

The centre consisted of 2 golf courses, 9 football pitches, 3 hockey pitches, 4 cricket pitches, 6 hard and 6 grass tennis courts, 2 bowling greens, a putting course, cycling and running tracks, a canoe lake, paddling pool as well as pavilions and shelters. The site was somewhat smaller then Kimber’s original plan, according to the Southampton and New Forest Guide of 1939, the Sports Centre occupied "268 acres of natural parkland lying in a beautiful wooded valley between the town’s suburb of Bassett and Lords Wood".

The police horse “Warrior”, who died on 22 August 1935, was buried at the Sports Centre. Warrior had been a veteran of the first World War having been injured at the advance on the Aisne. A Miss Hilda Moore saw him at the Veterinary Field Hospital at Swaythling and decided to buy him and presented him to Southampton Borough Police.

The 4th Southampton West Girl Guides offered to take care of Warrior’s grave, "although their funds would not allow of anything elaborate" (Sports Centre Committee 7 January 1936), a offer willingly accepted by the committee.

Plan of the sports centre

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From Sidney Kimber's book Thirty-Eight Years of Public Life in Southampton


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