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There is an array of leisure and recreational facilities within Harwich and Dovercourt, accommodating a range of ages and abilities. Dovercourt seafront is the main leisure hub of the area, and in addition to a long promenade, there are a number of seasonal facilities. Following significant investment and a complete refurbishment, The Boating Lake, located next to Dovercourt Swimming Pool on Low Road, reopened in summer 2011 and offers pedalo rental and kayaking and windsurfing. The Council-run putting green also includes crazy golf and a Pétanque terrain, which is open during the summer season.
Other attractions include the model yacht pond and amusement arcade, and the popular Blue Flag café (with bouncy castle and play area) serves a range of refreshments and has ample indoor and outdoor seating.
The waters around Harwich are a mecca for yachtsmen and dinghy sailors, and Harwich Town Sailing Club, regularly hosts regional and national championships. The Sailing Club at Gas House Creek welcomes visiting yachtsmen.
Harwich & Dovercourt Golf Club is a friendly and popular nine-hole golf course situated to the west of Parkeston Road, approaching Harwich International Port. The clubhouse can also be hired out as a venue for weddings etc.
The town has both ladies and junior hockey clubs which play on the first class all-weather floodlit pitch which can be booked from the adjacent swimming pool.
There is a fine indoor swimming pool also situated along Low Road. There are special sessions for senior citizens, the disabled, learners and early risers. An active swimming club based at the pool organises events and competes regionally. The swimming pool (Dovercourt Bay Lifestyles) has recently undergone £900,000 of refurbishment/modernisation and re-opened to the public in December 2014. The revamped facility includes a new 30 station Lifestyles Fitness Suite and new changing facilities.
Harwich Sports Centre is in the grounds of the Harwich and Dovercourt High School in Hall Lane. It is open to the public every evening and at weekends, and has facilities for numerous sports, including eight tennis courts and two squash courts, along with thriving racquetball and squash leagues of which the public are able to join.
Harwich for Heritage
Old Harwich stands on a narrow peninsula, its streets following the grid system laid down in the Middle Ages. Its three main streets lie north to south and are joined by quaint little alleyways. Harwich is listed as an outstanding Conservation Area and here there are many fine brick-fronted Georgian and early Victorian buildings. Behind the facades lie much earlier structures, and plaques have been erected on buildings of historic interest by the Harwich Society, which also publishes an entertaining leaflet “A Walk around Old Harwich”.
At the entrance to old Harwich stand the High and Low Lighthouses, built in 1818,which acted as leading marks, guiding vessels around the difficult shoals off Landguard point, until they were superseded in 1863 by the Dovercourt Lights. Today both lighthouses act as visitor attractions. The Low Lighthouse houses the Maritime Museum, and the High Lighthouse is a museum dedicated to Harwich. Both museums can be reached by a short walk from Harwich bus/rail station, and are a good starting point from where to explore the treasures that old Harwich has to offer.
Nearby stands the unique Tread Wheel Crane, built at the yard in 1667. It was once operated by two men walking inside twin wooden tread wheels and was in use until early 1900. It was re-erected on Harwich Green when the old shipyard was dismantled in 1928 and today makes for a great photo opportunity. Further along the promenade is the Lifeboat Museum and Harwich Town Sailing Club, behind which is a launching ramp for dinghies. In front lies the North Sea flood memorial, a sundial erected in memory of those Harwich residents who lost their lives in the floods of 1953.
Situated in Wellington Road, behind the cinema, is the Harwich Mural, depicting the area’s landmarks. Originally painted by school pupils in 1982 it was redesigned 13 years later.
The spire of St Nicholas’ Church has, for many years, been a landmark for seafarers. There has been a church here since the Middle Ages, and the font and some mural tablets survive from the original building, which was demolished in 1822. The present church has slender pillars of cast iron, and there are many interesting memorial tablets on the walls, recording the names of Harwich worthies of the past who died at sea or in distant parts of the world. At the west end of the church is an unusual display of blue and white Dutch tiles from the 17th century, depicting biblical scenes. St Nicholas’ is the scene of civic services, and has a special pew for the mayor, with a bracket for the town mace.
Historic Harwich website can be found here!
All of this information, and more, can be found in the Harwich & Dovercourt Town Guide, available hard copy format by contacting the Council on 01255 507211.