Back The Campaign – Save the Rink

Ice rinks under threat is nothing new in the UK but I think many people were still surprised when one of the most tradition and historic in the UK was announced to be under threat. Whitley Bay ice rink affectionately known as the Wigwam as North Tyneside council have earmarked the area for a new housing development.

There are many sentimental reasons to want to save the rink. Whitley Warriors are a name synonymous with British ice hockey. Whilst not a force in the modern era. Despite being formed in 1955 the Warriors name really grew in the 1980’s and brought in some well known names for British fans including Hilton Ruggles (who would go on to play for the Manchester Storm and Coventry Blaze) and Claude Dumas. The Warriors were also the first coaching job of now Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock.

The Warriors and the Whitley Bay rink were part of a powerhouse northeast in British ice hockey that included the rinks at Sunderland, Billingham and of course Durham. Of those Sunderland and Durham have been lost. There is of course an argument that that is the past and that with the Warriors best days behind them it could be time to leave it there.

However the ice rink is about more than just the Warriors. The northeast continues to be a source of junior talent in the UK. The junior system takes in children of all ages and both boys and girls whilst the rink is also home to recreational teams and two university sides. That is not to mention figure skating and speed skating.

And with the council proposing new housing for the area the rink there will be more children and youngsters in the area all in need of something to do. The rink provides that in a town that otherwise would be struggling. The town also needs the rink. It is a draw for the town and has put Whitley Bay on the map for itself not outlaying area of Newcastle. To lose the rink would a shot in the foot for the council. The rink can and should be a part of the regeneration solution and not because of its land but for what it provides to the community.

Paul Breeze yesterday began a campaign to tell North Tyneside Council of the importance of the rink and I am going to back that fully as will Blueliner Hockey. You can read Paul’s post here. We ask all to download sign and submit this letter to  Freepost RSAE-SHKR-JCKS, North Tyneside Council, Planning Policy, Quadrant East (1st Floor Left), The Silverlink North, North Tyneside NE27 0BY by Monday.

Neil Tucker

Neil has written on ice hockey for many websites concentrating on British ice hockey mostly. Neil also covers ice hockey in other countries and organises his Blueliner Hockey Tour. A graduate of the Manchester Metropolitan University Neil turned his hand to hockey writing in 2009. As well as contributing on Blueliner Hockey Neil has contributed to Get Real Hockey and Slapshot Magasine.

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