A MULTI-MILLION pound sports complex in Royal Wootton Bassett finally opened on Saturday.

It follows more than a decade of work behind the scenes to move the Gerard Buxton Sports Ground.

The ground, at Ryland Way, originally presented to the people of Wootton Bassett in 1930 by the major who gave it its name, had been outgrown.

And it was sold to help fund the new £6m complex at Brinkworth Road on the edge of town.

The Royal Wootton Bassett Sports Association has been supported in its efforts by Sport England, the ECB, the FA and the Lawn Tennis Association, among other sponsors.

Paul Meakin, who was part of the working party for the development, said: “This has been a long time coming in a life span of more than 10 years for the project.

“It was conceived because the current ground had very much been outgrown, so we had to find a new home to cater for the demand for sport in the town.

“The new site was found at the edge of the town around the time of the economic crisis, so everything had to be put on hold until a couple of years ago when the development really started.

“It has had funding from organisations like Sports England and the Football Foundation, along with a number of local companies, so there has been local as well as national support.

“Everybody has been extremely helpful, including the ECB who have been involved for quite some time.

“Everybody has stuck with it and we are extremely grateful for the support that has materialised. It has been a long journey but a successful one.”

The facility boasts eight floodlit all-weather tennis courts, two cricket pitches, and a full size third generation artificial pitch, along with a new ground with spectator stands for Royal Wootton Bassett Town Football Club.

The ribbon was cut on Saturday morning by George Tuckett, the president of the Royal Wootton Bassett Sports Association, assisted by youngsters from the cricket, football and tennis clubs.

Paul said: “It is a major boost for the town and for the local area. It is a facility that will be the envy of many, and we are very fortunate to have it here, but it will very much be a facility for the local community, and will be available for private and corporate bookings.

“All the clubs have a strong youth dimension to them and on Sunday we had an open day for the tennis club to come and play for free to attract more members.

“The next generation are being well catered for. The football club has a total of 23 teams, and this will allow them to train together and provide and expansion of their activities.

“It is also a ground that has the capacity for others to use, so we will be making an effort to engage more people in the area with sports.

“The project has been a major effort from many people over many years, but the major driver has been Paul Harrison, from the Sports Association, who has worked tirelessly to make this happen.

“As well as the sports facilities there is also the club house, bar, meeting rooms and changing facilities.”