Norwich hockey club finds new home after Pinebanks closure

A Norwich hockey club which was made homeless after the closure of the former Pinebanks sports and leisure site has now found a new state-of-the art home.

Members of the Norwich Dragons Hockey club like scores of other sportsmen and women were forced to find alternative pitches to play on after the Thorpe St Andrew based Pinebanks site, formerly owned by Norwich Union, now Aviva, closed in 2008.

But almost three years on from that dark day and members of the club are celebrating after a derelict cinder running track on land at the Hewett School has been transformed into a top quality astroturf hockey pitch.

The new pitch will be available to players of all ages and skills thanks to the Norwich Hockey Consortium, made up of the Norwich Dragons Hockey Club, Hewett School and Town Close House School, which has provided the funding.

The new pitch at the Cecil Road-based school was opened by England Hockey International, Great Britain Olympian and Town Close House old boy Richard Alexander yesterday<Sunday, 26>.

Mike Hardy, president of Norwich Dragons Hockey Club said: 'We are very excited to be bringing hockey back to the community in Norwich following the closure of our previous home at Pinebanks.

'We have an extremely enthusiastic and well qualified pool of coaches at the Club who are keen to continue their voluntary work encouraging youngsters to stay in the sport, as well as increasing participation by adults through membership of Norwich Dragons Hockey Club. Speaking on behalf of the Consortium, we are very grateful to all contributors who have helped bring this facility to reality.'

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Pat Andrews, vice-chair of the Hewett School Governing Body, said he was pleased to see the land being put to community sports use.

He said: 'For many years the Hewett School Governing Body has been trying to re-develop the old cinder running track area on the south side of the Hewett site. The combination of the goals five-a-side football complex and the opportunity to contribute land to the Hockey Consortium, in which the school will take an active part, has made for a very exciting project. Our students and the members of our wider community now have the opportunity to take advantage of a pair of first class sporting facilities.'

The pitch, which will be joined soon be joined by a second after planning permission was secured, has been funded by contributions from Town Close House, Norwich Dragons Hockey Club, England Hockey Board, the National Hockey Foundation, Paul Bassham Charitable Trust and generous donations by other local benefactors and organisations.

Graeme Lowe, head master, Town Close House School, said: 'We are delighted to be a part of this innovative, three-way partnership, giving the School a superb new facility, whilst also providing the wider community with the opportunity to play hockey in the centre of Norwich.'

To find out about playing on this new pitch, go to or contact the Norwich Dragons membership secretary at to find out more.

Are you searching for a new home for your community group? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email