The History of Bradford Ice Arena
1966 – Silver Blades Ice Rink
In January 1966 Mecca Leisure Limited opened the ice rink in Bradford under the name of the Silver Blades Ice Rink, it was reputed to be “The finest rink in the world”, with coloured lighting in the barriers, sparkling chandeliers over the ice, and a plush bar and restaurant. The resplendently dressed skaters were entertained with organ music. The opening gala at the rink had performances by British skaters who had just returned from the World Championships, they included Sally Anne Stapleford, John Curry and ice dancers Bernard Ford and Diane Towler.
1989 – Rank Leisure
The rink prospered until the recession of 1970 affected the leisure industry. It struggled on for several years by cutting back on repairs and by the time Rank Leisure took over Mecca in 1989 it was in a sorry state. As part of the takeover, Rank Leisure reviewed various Mecca businesses and decided that Silver Blades Ice Rinks did not fit into their corporate plan. To bring them up to the standard that their image required would cost millions and this was not commercially justifiable, therefore they announced the closure of the Bradford rink in the spring of 1991.
1991 – The Closure
The public outcry created by the announcement was enormous. Ice rink supporters took to the streets of Bradford, demonstrating the rink’s importance to the immediate and wider community as the only ice skating facility in West Yorkshire. With press and television backing, a petition with over 4,000 signatures was presented to the City Council in the hope of winning a reprieve. All those efforts did not produce the required action that people were hoping for.
A meeting to be held with Bradford Skating Club Officials to consider and discuss the consequences of the closure; as a result, group representation was made to Bradford Council to find out if there was any possibility of their involvement in a rescue plan. They agreed to a Surveyor making an inspection and assessment of the rink to ascertain future viability. In due course the Surveyor estimated that the cost of vital repairs would be at least two million pounds. On that note, the Council refused to be involved.
In April 1991 the rink closed. Rank Leisure were contacted with regards to intiating a private takeover. A week after presenting the business plan to Rank Leisure they agreed to grant an operating lease and annual rent to be paid. With legal formalities completed the new company was appropriately named Greatcause Ltd and to the delight of all concerned, the ice rink re-opened six weeks after closure.
The premises were desperately run down and large sums of money were necessarily allocated for repairs and renovations. An energy efficient ceiling was installed, new seating erected, skate-hire was rebuilt and the coffee shop extended. A new sound and lighting system was installed, as was a huge projection screen.
In September 1991, a super skating gala, hosting Bradford and British Champion skaters, heralded the official opening of the newly refurbished rink. The rink was packed to celebrate this happy and memorable occasion. Over the next years major capital items were financed, including replacing a brand new ice resurfacing machine, refurbishment of the viewing gallery and a new dance studio for the benefit of the Skating School off-ice training.
1996 – Ice Time and Nice Time
The first years of Greatcause were the most challenging due to the financial strain of constant repairs and running costs. In order to continue running in business, charitable status was applied for and in 1996 a new trading company was formed called Ice Time Limited which is owned by the charitable company – Nice Time.
2011 – New Plant
This was a very pivotal year for us; in order to secure the future existence of the ice rink a new freezing plant was installed.
2015 – Present Time and the Future
The business continues to be operated with the Charity Objectives in mind. Admission prices and other charges are structured to cover necessary costs and essential investments to ensure that the future of Bradford Ice Rink remains a valued part of local life.
Our skating coaches have trained many Open Competition winners and British Champions. The Figure Skating Club has almost 100 members of all ages and the Ice Hockey Club has several teams in training who compete nationally. We also now have a new Synchro Club that allows people with different skating abilities to learn and perform and in 2016 a Speed Skating club was formed.
2016 – 50th Year Anniversary
Over so many years there have been thousands of people who regularly enjoy the facilities of Bradford Ice Arena and in January we celebrated our 50th anniversary. Events are planned throughout the year to mark this amazing milestone.