‘Dynamic’ figure behind Rugby’s sporting life remembered

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With the Ken Marriott Leisure Centre now closed forever, we look back at the man who tirelessly campaigned for better sporting facilities in Rugby.

Trevor White Drive in Rugby will always be a permanent reminder of the driving force behind the former Rugby Sports Centre - later known as the Ken Marriott.

Trevor White was born and educated in Rugby. He lived with his parents in Eastlands Road and had a keen interest in sport.

Trevor was a teacher at Dunsmore School (now Ashlawn) when it opened in April 1958.

He introduced orienteering and cross country to Dunsmore and by 1968 the school held every trophy given for cross country in the district.

Trevor’s brother Colin White said: “He was always keen on athletics and sport.”

Trevor had just finished his year as deputy mayor of Rugby when he took some school children on a school trip.

On returning home to Rugby he was involved in a head-on crash near Inverness in Scotland and was killed.

He was just 36 years old when he died in June 1968.

At the time he was described as the longest serving and most experienced councillor at Rugby Borough Council. More than 700 people attended his funeral at St Andrew’s Parish Church in Rugby.

In 1978 commemorative plaques were unveiled at the leisure centre in recognition of Trevor and fellow councillor Ken Marriott.

Mr White was elected to the council in 1955 and served on the baths and parks committee until his death.

He was chairman of the committee from 1962 until 1964 during which time the sports centre scheme was first proposed.

The plaque to commemorate his contribution to the leisure centre was unveiled by his mother Gladys White.

Colin said: “He was always campaigning for something more in Rugby.

“At the time there was only the Regent Street baths. His first aim was a running track and a better swimming pool for Rugby.

“He achieved so much in his short life.”

Colin’s wife Sylvia added: “It was Trevor’s effort that got Rugby its new leisure centre. He was dynamic.”

Ken Marriott, who died in 1977, had served on the baths and parks committee and latterly on the recreation and amenities committee of which he was chairman for many years.

It was under his chairmanship of the committee that the final scheme for the sports centre was approved and it was built and opened.

The plaque to commemorate his contribution to the provision of the sports centre was unveiled by his widow Joyce marriott.

The Mayor of Rugby at the time, the late Gordon Collett, welcomed guests to the sports centre and told them the memorial plaques would permanently record the efforts made by Trevor and Ken.

He said: “It is due in no small measure to the initial efforts of Trevor White in the early stages of the scheme and the sustained efforts of Ken Marriott in the detailed planning and development of the sports centre and the subsequent development of its facilities that the people of Rugby were able to enjoy the recreational activities provided at this centre. In recognition of the fine efforts of these two gentlemen the borough council decided to name the drive to the centre after Trevor White and to rename the sports centre after Ken Marriott.”

Trevor White Drive, off Cromwell Road, was originally the main entrance to the leisure centre.

The access later changed to Bruce Williams Way.

Colin said: “Trevor campaigned to get the access from Hillmorton Road but they said it would not be adequate.

“We were very happy that the road had been named after him for his drive and determination.”

Speaking about the closure of Ken Marriott, Colin said: “My heart sank.

“We were very grateful to the Advertiser for alerting us. But we understand it could not go on forever.

“We accept it had come to the end of its life.

“We think they will be putting the plaques up in the centre which is a relief.”

l The Ken Marriott Leisure Centre closed at the end of March.

The new leisure centre, on the same site, is due to open at the end of July and will be known as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Centre.