The lightfoot sport dome was initiated by the pioneering 1960 Albemarle Report which led to the commissioning of over 3000 indoor and outdoor sports facilities across the UK. The structure is formed out of a series of laminated timber ribs, connected to a ring beam at the apex of the dome creating an unobstructed internal diameter of 61 metres making it the largest dome in Europe at the time of its construction, and being one of the first indoor sports centres in the UK; it was pioneering in every sense. Prefabricated, reinforced fibre-glass panels were used to cover the dome, allowing daylight to filter into the sports hall. The oculus (circular opening) at the centre provides natural ventilation to the interior.
Tyneside, let alone Europe had never had such a large capacity space and it was quickly adapted for large spectator events, public rallies and even religious ceremonies. The Lightfoot marked the beginning of the new initiative for indoor sporting facilities and placed the North East as the leading region for sports and recreation provision. The dome owes its inspiration to Pier Luigi Nervi’s 1957 Sports Palazzetto in Rome.
The dome has been maintained and refurbished over the years and remains a popular venue at the heart of Walker with parts of the dome infilled to provide an enclosed gym.
All images copyright of Faulkner Brown Architects