05:10PM, Monday 14 September 2020
An Olympic swimmer was in town and a state-of-the-art gym was tested out for the first time as the multi-million pound Braywick Leisure Centre opened at the weekend.
Having played host to a keys hand-over ceremony with the mayor on Wednesday, the Braywick Road site - which is replacing the 45-year-old Magnet - welcomed visitors for the first time on Saturday.
Among those at the occasion was the council's head of leisure, Cllr Samantha Rayner (Con, Eton Wick), and Jonny Walker, the centre's events and marketing manager.
Social distancing was observed as visitors got a first taste of the Braywick Leisure Centre's facilities, including a bigger, 10-lane swimming pool, gym and tennis courts.
It is also home to the Baylis Theatre - named after the Advertiser's proprietor, Louis Baylis.
Although this theatre is yet to be used given the pandemic restrictions, Jonny recalled a day he described as a 'good busy' one, adding the centre is 'what Maidenhead needed'.
"It has just been fantastic, to be able to now show Maidenhead what we have got available," Jonny said.
"We have had more than 800 emails for tours, back-to-back enquiries regarding swimming lessons, the gym. It is a good busy.
"It is really what Maidenhead needed."
Conforming to restrictions, the leisure centre has urged interested residents to pre-book sessions there via leisurecentre.com
Jonny also said that a social media tour is in the pipeline to give residents a flavour of what to expect if they are not able to make it down in person.
Also in attendance on Saturday was Team GB swimmer Tom Dean, who took to the water in the new pool.
And over in the gym, existing members who used the facilities at the Magnet are being honoured the same price at Braywick.
"Our members originally had a gym at the Magnet that was ageing and it is nice for them to have a brand new gym for them to come and use," Jonny added.
"And for new members, word spread that the gym is a fantastic size, well spaced out, with brand new equipment."
The Braywick Leisure Centre was completed on time despite the COVID-19 pandemic hitting, and is one of a number of major projects planned in the town.
"It was just a mad moment, the fact that we are here, we are done, it is open," Jonny said of the opening day.
"And for me it was sad because it was well and truly the end of the Magnet. But it was good that we shut the doors one day and then opened Braywick the other.
"I have not had much time to miss my old work space, I have been so busy, I have not had chance to think about that yet."
See this article for details of a shuttle bus running from the Magnet to the new Braywick site, and scroll through the images at the top of the article to see how the day unfolded on Saturday.
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