SPORT IN REGENT’S PARK & PRIMROSE HILL PART 2 -TODAY

The Hub - drone photo

Regent’s Park is the largest outdoor sports facility in Central London, and the busiest public open sports ground in England.

Sports, other than tennis, take place mostly in the northern parkland and on Primrose Hill. Management is based at The Hub, where there is also a café, underground changing rooms, toilets and multi-function rooms for exercise classes and children’s birthday parties.  There are a wide range of outdoor pitches for hire.

Hub pitches

The map shows the Summer plan when pitches for 6 cricket, 20 softball, 5 rounders and 4 touch rugby are available. Winter pitch facilities include football,rugby, and lacrosse.  One pitch has been upgraded to a hybrid pitch, 90% grass with an integral carpet.  The pilot project was financed by Sport England and cost £400,000 with the main aim of increasing the amount of play on a pitch, while improving the quality of the playing surface. The pitch currently receives more than double the use of a regular grass pitch and has vastly improved the player experience. 

The 5-person Hub management team handle about 10,000 bookings a year.  About 260 teams regularly use the pitches, and The Hub is the home base for many local teams. Football pitches cost around £80 to hire for 2 hours, and there are additional charges for goal nets corner flags and the use of changing rooms. 

The Hub management work with several partners to provide opportunities to play sports and enjoy physical activity in Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill.  Current partner arrangements can be seen on this link:https://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/the-regents-park/things-to-see-and-do/the-hub-sports-facility/hub-partnerships

 Some of the teams that play on the Regent’s Park pitches are:

TeamSportOrganisation – Multiple Teams/LeaguesSport
Regents Park FCFootballRegents Park Youth LeagueFootball
Primrose Hill Soccer AcademyFootballPlayfiveasideFootball
United Dragons FCFootballIn2TouchTouch Rugby
St Johns WoodFootballTry Tag RugbyTag Rugby
Chelsea/Open AgeWalking FootballGo MammothVolleyball
Regents Park RoyalsRugbyGo MammothRounders
Belsize Park RFCRugbyBaseball Softball UKSoftball
Central London LacrosseLacrosseLondon UniversitiesVarious

Youth Sport

At the Hub, there is a focus on youth sport to help young, local children to experience the joy of playing.

In 2003 an initiative supported by former Prime Minister John Major launched Capital Kid’s Cricket that offered free use of the cricket pitches to inner-city schools. In 2006 Queen’s Park Ranger’s Football Club offered Saturday coaching classes, and Belsize Park Junior Rugby offered Sunday lessons to 8- to 14-year-olds.  In 2011 the Regent’s Park Royals Junior Rugby Club was launched offering coaching on Saturdays to children aged 6 to 12.  Camden & Regent’s Park Youth Football League was re-started in 2013, with over 200 teams of under 17s competing.  In the same year, the Regent’s Park Cricket Club offered coaching to 6–17-year-old boys and girls. 

Today, the problem at the Hub is the limit on capacity as the demand for booking of pitches is so high that it is difficult to accommodate new teams. The hybrid pitch being a new innovative project will can help with increasing the amount of play without having a detrimental impact on the park or its facilities.

The Friends of Regent’s Park & Primrose Hill has a history of involvement in youth sport. From 2001 to 2003 they supported a youth football competition called the “West Euston Cup”. 

Most of the teams were from the Regent’s Park Estate, Sommers Town, and Kings Cross.  The competition was organised by Will Cave of the Camden Sports and physical activity department. 

The 2001 the 4 teams in the semi-final were Jubilee FC (Sommers Town), Fleet Primary school, KX Lithgow and Clarence Kings (both Regent’s Park Estate).

Jubilee and KX Lithgow were the finalists and Jubilee was the winner.  Two Committee members from the Friends, Ianthe McWilliams and Ann Muller, presented the trophies.  In 2002, the trophies were presented by Assistant Park Manager Mark Wasilewski and Ann Muller and in in 2003 Michael Goldhill.  Sadly, after that, there is no record showing that the competition continued.

Since then, the Hub team have organised a free school football tournament, to give further opportunity for local schools to compete against each other. The ‘Hub Cup’ was set up in 2017 with around 200 school children participating in a boys and girls tournament each year. The tournament is also scheduled to encourage more girls into football, working alongside the Regent’s Park Youth League which now has more than 20 regular girls’ teams playing each week in the park.   

The Friends is currently discussing with Park management the possibility of organising a similar event to encourage more young people living near the Park to participate in sports events at the Hub.

Yoga, Pilates, and Exercise

Classes take place at the Hub every day except Sunday and Monday.  They involve small classes (max 15) and are led by experienced instructors. They are designed for all levels. Yoga classes are also arranged by Lesley Isaacson at the Will to Win Tennis on Saturdays 9 to 10am. . 

a)      Pilates

A series of exercises to strengthen the body core based on the work of Joseph Pilates.

b)      Yoga

To promote harmony and balance for body and mind, yoga integrates postures with breathing exercise, relaxation, and meditation.

c)       Stretch and Tone.

A class that develops flexibility. Feel calm, refreshed, and energised by body movements that promote health and longevity.

d)      Over 50s Walking Football

A standard game of football where players walk instead of run. It is designed to help people get fit or maintain an active lifestyle no matter what their age and fitness.

Running Track, Trim Trail and Trapeze school

a) Running Track

The cinder running track is located on a strip of land between Regent’s Canal and the Outer Circle. For more information see Part 1 of this document.

b) Trim Trail

The Trim Trail open air gym at the foot of Primrose Hill was built in 1985 and refurbished in 2015.   It contains Petanque (boules) courts, as well as the usual outdoor gym equipment (see photos)

c) Trapeze School

Every Summer, near the running track, the Gorilla Circus Flying Trapeze School Regent’s Park offers 8- to 84-year-olds the chance to be in the circus!  

Tennis

The tennis courts in Regent’s Park are located near York Bridge. Since 2002 they have been part of the Will to Win network of sport centres where there is a serious focus on helping young people. 

The site contains 12 tennis courts (8 floodlit), 5 netball courts (2 floodlit), 1 mini tennis court and 1 Padel court (floodlit).  The traditionally designed clubhouse has a café and changing rooms. In 2003 an entertaining tennis match took place between British champion Tim Henman and TV presenter Jonathan Ross, with Annabel Crofts umpiring.  Tim Henman played with a cricket bat or a mini-racket and, according to reporters, was the winner, although there seems to have been

some doubt!

In 2017, the tennis facilities received funding from London Marathon Charitable Trust (LMCT) to improve the quality of facilities on offer, improving the courts surface, floodlighting system, community facilities and introducing padel tennis. Will to Win and The Royal Parks have put together a tennis program to encourage target groups to the facility and report their findings to LMCT. The facility has seen a huge increase in demand and has a tennis offer to cater to all age groups and abilities, plus offering free tennis on off-peak hours.  

Cycling

Cycling, by sport, leisure, and commuter cyclists, is very popular in the Park. Most takes place on the Outer and Inner Circles, but it is also permitted on the Broadwalk.  The most active are the sport cyclists who prefer the 4.45 km Outer Circle to the much shorter Inner Circle.

Several amateur cycling clubs meet regularly to complete laps of the Outer Circle for exercise and training, especially in the early morning between 6 and 7am. Prominent clubs include Regent’s Park Rouleurs (RPR), Islington Cycling Club (ICC), Cycle Club London (CCL), and Rapha Cycle Club (RCC). In 2015 Regent’s Park Cyclists was formed to represent the interest of the cyclists and cycling clubs using the Inner & Outer Circles.

Running

 Regents Park has a large, active running community as there is space to keep fit, train or race. It is used for charity runs and fun runs throughout the year.  The Royal Parks have created a map offering different levels of running challenge. See https://www.friendsofregentspark.org/in-the-park/sport/running/

Personal Trainers

Personal trainers have needed a license issued by the Royal Parks since 2013 and must be registered at the Hub.  To be licensed, trainers must be qualified and have public liability insurance.  They must also follow a code of conduct that includes restrictions on where and when they operate and forbids attaching material to trees and the use of music.  Licence holders are issued with an armband, and regular checks are made by Park staff.  

In 2021 there are 77 licensed trainers in the 7 London Royal Parks, 19 of whom are in Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill. The Regents Park team also offer a subsidised community rate, to clubs and trainers who offer free services and target specific groups.

Mark Elliott January 2021

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