Well-known squash club saved after an 11th-hour deal

MNCE - GV of Dallington gym Fitness First, Mill Lane, Dallington, Northampton.
MNCE - GV of Dallington gym Fitness First, Mill Lane, Dallington, Northampton.

A SQUASH club in Northampton has been saved from closure after an 11th-hour proposal by a property developer whose daughter plays at the centre.

Roger Fowler, who works within the property and leisure business, took over the former Fitness First centre in Mill Lane, Dallington, on Thursday, the day before it was due to close.

Fitness First announced its closure at the beginning of June, but the club will now remain open thanks to the takeover.

Mr Fowler, who lives in Cheshire, said he was looking into buying another former Fitness First club when his daughter, Nicola Fowler, who lives in Brixworth, called him and said the site was closing.

The club will now be known as Dallington Racquet and Fitness Club and Mr Fowler said he wanted to use the new club to restore interest in squash and other racquet sports.

Mr Fowler, who has played squash for 30 years, said: “I am glad I have managed to save the club. I wanted to keep it open for the squash team so they don’t have to move elsewhere. It’s a special place with a lot of character.

“It’s been there a long time and I wouldn’t want to see it bulldozed; that would have been a tragedy. People who go to it see it as a second home. It is a real community, social and family place.”

He said 14 of the 16 staff at the centre would keep their jobs and said he hoped to recruit more in the future.

The club is one of the oldest gyms in Northampton and was opened more than 30 years ago by six squash players.

It was known as Dallington Country Club before the site was sold to Fitness First around 10 years ago.