Fifteen Acres of Adventure in the Heart of Leicester
Registered Charity Number: 1074671
OFSTED Registration Number: 226869
To provide adventurous outdoor activity experiences designed to stimulate, educate and motivate young people and others at affordable prices in a challenging and safe environment.
By successfully delivering challenging but safe activities to a wide range of Centre users LOPC will be financially cost-neutral, setting and meeting annual cost-neutral budgets whilst applying for capital funding to support ongoing developments of facilities and activities.
To provide a Centre which will make available a wide range of Adventure Activities creating opportunities for the community of Leicester and surrounding areas.
To provide a Community Centre which will make available a wide range of community facilities for the use of Leicestershire and the surrounding area.
To encourage and help all, especially young people, to promote their health, wellbeing and education, to develop their self-reliance and independence, and to acquire a greater knowledge, enjoyment and care for the countryside and environment through the use of Adventure and Leisure Activities in both recreational and competitive activities.
To promote and organise, or assist in promoting and organising Events, Meetings, Regattas, Championships, Trials, Rallies, Training sessions, Tours, Festivals and other Competitive and Recreational events to encourage and support Adventure and Leisure Activities.
To provide for and respond to the needs of the community.
To operate and practice an Equal Opportunities Policy, through all activities and at all levels.
To encourage personal development through participation in a wide range of leisure activities at all levels.
To provide Educational and training opportunities for individuals and groups within the facilities at the Centre and elsewhere.
To encourage a greater awareness and participation of adventure opportunities for the Disabled.
To maximise the use of the Centre and its resources.
To do anything incidental or conducive to the above objects.
Leicester Rowing Club was founded in Belgrave on the North side of Leicester apparently from an amalgamation of three smaller clubs, themselves founded in the 1870s, with the stated aim of representing the City in Regatta competitions. The Club initially used the canal stretch at Belgrave. The first Captain was Mr. W.G. Linnell. The Club was based here until 1988 when it moved to its next home on Frog Island. The Club may well have been based at our current site but this is unconfirmed.
The Leicester Directory in 1916 records the Bridge Boat Co. – Boat builders and hirers operated by Thomas Charles Stacey, This company was based at the River Soar Boat House, indications are that current water front next to the bridge was its location. The company was owned by Mr. Stacey between 1912 and his death in 1934. The business was then taken on by Harry Gordon Wheatley.
On June 3rd 1927 the Nottingham Evening Post ran the following report: “Ronald Stevenson, aged eight, living in Payne Street, Leicester, was seen struggling in the River Soar near Belgrave. A young man went to his assistance, and the manager of the boathouse, Mr. Stacey, eventually got the boy out of the water in an exhausted condition. Later the boy stated that he was fishing on the river bank when a youth went up to him and remarking ‘you are going in’ pushed him into the water.”
A gap then exists between 1934 and 1965 when the old Belgrave Boat House, pictured right, was sold to the Leicester Youth Service as an Outdoor Pursuits Centre in 1965. The activities of canoeing and canoe building were then extended to include many other challenging activities such as sailing, hill walking and camping.
Autumn and winter 1968 saw the existing Club Room erected including basic office, kitchen and changing facilities, this building connected to the workshops that were already in place.
In January 1974 13.85 acres of land adjoining the OPC to the East were granted change of use for an extension to the OPC and later that year the Centre and its activities were passed over to the county and run by the Leicestershire Educational Authority (LEA) in conjunction with Quorn Camping and Canoeing Centre. At this point paddlesport activities were in abundance with many courses and trips around the UK taking place. The Leicestershire Schools Canoeing Association was also quite prolific.
In November 1976 planning permission was granted for the A Frame, toilets and a small building connecting them to the main Club Room
Sadly in 1980 due to financial cutbacks the LEA withdrew their support of the OPC leading to the closure of the Centre in August of that year.
In the spring of 1982 the OPC was taken over by Leicester City Council. Improvements in facilities followed which included the addition of the changing rooms and showers in autumn 1983 and subsequently a dry ski slope. In 1985 the toilet facilities including disabled toilet, as they are now, were installed. Over the next few years the OPC grew to be a Centre of Excellence, attracting people from all over the country to train and be assessed for National Governing Body Awards.
In 1991 the Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Club and Leicestershire Canoe Club merged and became the Leicestershire Canoe and Outdoor Pursuits Club, in April 2001 this club became Paddleplus, the canoe club based at LOPC.
Unfortunately with the onset of compulsory competitive tendering and budgetary constraints the dry ski slope had to be pulled down in November 1992. Followed by the decision in March 1993 to close the OPC down completely.
However, a group of dedicated users refused to let this happen, they put together a business plan under the umbrella organisation of the CK Trust and the City Council accepted it. The Centre, and all of its equipment, were passed over to the CK Trust Project and has been run ever since on a voluntary basis.
For three years the Centre was run on a totally voluntary basis before a manager was able to be employed full-time. This was the catalyst for the growth and development of the Centre which has continued apace for many years now.
In 1997 Leicester Outdoor Pursuits Centre became a reality, becoming a Limited Company in June and a Registered Charity in March 1999.
More activities were added over the years increasing the capacity for people at the Centre to over 200. In March 2008 a new high ropes complex with climbing and abseiling towers was completed and shortly after that the building of outside ranges for archery and air rifles was finished.
Other land based activities on offer include fencing, orienteering, bushcraft, trebuchet building and team building. The River Soar allows for canoeing, kayaking, bell boating and raft building to take place.
LOPC now holds an Adventure Activities (AALA) License, is a British Canoe Union Approved Centre and Canoe England Top Centre. It also holds the Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge and Adventuremark accreditations, is an Ofsted recognised Centre for childcare and has recognition to deliver courses on behalf of the Duke of Edinburgh Award, National Indoor Climbing Award Scheme and National Navigation Award Scheme,