The renowned Essex show centre Towerlands Park will be bulldozed early next month, a spokesman has confirmed.
The centre has been running at a loss “running into millions of pounds and closure was inevitable” says its owner, the Unex Group, chaired by racehorse and showjumping owner Bill Gredley.
Charley Nathan, who took over running the equestrian events in February last year, said: “We will run our final show on 30 August. After that the site is to be bulldozed — first the stables, then the arena.”
The Unex Group statement adds that the company intends to investigate alternative uses for the 110-acre site, “including building an exhibition centre to rival the ExCel Centre in Docklands” and housing.
The centre became a household name in the 1980s with the success of Malcolm Pyrah’s ride Towerlands Anglezarke, owned by Tom Hunnable, who built the centre. It was bought by property developer Bill Gredley, whose son Tim showjumped on Briths teams, in 2004.
It has been the home of the Osborne Refrigerators British Driving Society National Championships for four years, hosted British Showjumping competitions until last August and many unaffiliated showjumping and dressage competitions and lecture demonstrations.
Local rider Jacqueline Russell described the bulldozing of Towerlands as “an act of wanton vandalism”.
“It was far ahead of its time and is still probably the premier indoor arena in the country today,” she said. “It is as good as the top centres in Europe. Its loss is pointless and needless.”
This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (18 August, 2011)