taking our culture forward

‘Summerland’ opened in 1971 on the site of the old Derby Castle. Claimed to be the largest indoor leisure complex in Europe, it had seven floors and three-and-a-half acres of facilities, including an aquadrome. A large proportion of the walls and roof of the building were clad with a new Perspex-like material called Oroglas. The Oroglas proved to be disastrous when the building was engulfed in flames on the evening of 2nd August 1973. Three youths on holiday from Liverpool had set fire to a fibre-glass kiosk on an outside terrace where they were illicitly smoking. Within minutes the whole complex had gone up, trapping an estimated 3,000 visitors and staff inside. Fifty people lost their lives as a result of the blaze. The aquadrome was saved and from 1978 a scaled-down version of the complex was in operation, maintaining the name of Summerland. In 2004, the decision was taken to demolish the remains of the leisure centre.