I remember Southampton’s ice skating rink. I even skated there a couple of times before it closed in 1988. I soon discovered that while triple axels looked great on TV, the reality for me was going round and round the rink interminably with the only interruption to the tedium being the frequent falling over.
In the nearly thirty years that have passed since I hung up my skates, I’ve discovered that a lot of people feel differently to me. After the initial protests at the closure, hardly a development proposal has gone by without someone suggesting an ice rink would be the perfect centrepiece.
The trouble is, no business regards it as a commercial proposition. Not a problem, you might think. Sports facilities often need a subsidy and the Lottery has been the benefactor of many a field, track and hall. Yet in 2010 Sport England decided not to back a proposed Olympic size rink in Southampton.
Logic and reason would say that a new ice rink is never going to happen, but, as someone who works in marketing, I know only too well that hearts usually rule minds. So I suspect it will take the passing of everyone who remembers the old one with affection before Southampton lets go the dream of having a new ice rink.
The same thing seems to be happening with Winchester’s bus station. The latest version of the Silver Hill development was intended to wipe out the existing rundown terminus. Neither the developer nor the main bus company see the point of having one. This has clear parallels with the campaign for a Southampton ice rink.
And, like Southampton’s ice rink fans, the bus passengers of Winchester won’t let their bus station disappear without a fight. A reader of the Hampshire Chronicle letters page could easily get the impression that we Wintonians don’t care what a large section of Winchester centre will look like after redevelopment, so long as we can have a bus station. If it does disappear, I imagine people will still be writing letters in thirty years time suggesting new sites for it.
There is a glimmer of hope. With the rejection of the more recent schemes for Silver Hill, it may be that the bus station that formed part of the first design will be back. I’ve an idea. Why not build the bus station and, when no buses use it, turn it into an ice rink? Sorted.