Jul 1 2011 by Yonnie McInnes, Ayrshire Post (main ed)
l BEFORE the old Beresford Terrace ice rink closed, Glen staged the only gala exhibition featuring all the world figure skating champions.
He said: “It was the very last time that the old rink was filled to capacity – standing room only – and it had a capacity of around 5000 people.
“By the mid 70s there was a big demise in ice skating and eventually the wonderful Beresford Terrace rink was closed and skating generally had to rely on the small curling rink at Limekiln Road.
“Skating was once the major recreational activity in Ayr and district, and special buses came from all over Ayrshire for the hockey matches and skating in general.
“The Ayr Raiders ice hockey team was a magnet and Ayr was a skating/curling town in every discipline.
“I long thought of the generations of skaters who had nowhere to go and only an amateur hockey team was left to share the ice at Limekiln Road with everyone else.
“I often thought about how I could give the town a new stadium and the Centrum project in Prestwick was born.”
Glen realised that it was essential to have a professional ice hockey team and Ayr Raiders (then owned by Caledonian Arenas – a Glen Henderson company) was reborn in preparation to moving to Centrum.
He added: “We went on to the first ever Wembley ice hockey final with 32 coach loads of supporters from Ayr.
“We didn’t win but we were all ready with a successful professional ice hockey team for Centrum, which was to be a state-of-the-art ice skating and multi purpose arena.
“It was in the early 1980s that I first discussed with Kyle and Carrick District council about how I could give the town a new stadium.
“Their enthusiasm arranged for the lease of four acres at Prestwick Toll on a 100-year peppercorn rate of £100 per year.
“It was a condition of the lease that the ground could never be used for any other purpose other than a multi-purpose stadium.
“Now we all know what happened to that agreement.”
The facility was even visited by one of the ten most powerful people in the world of sport, Ottavio Cinquanta, president of the International Skating Union.
Glen went on: “He proclaimed it to be the finest arena of its size that he had ever visited.”
Olympic ice skating champions Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean paid a visit to the Centrum during its construction and were proudly shown around it by Glen.
There was a very good reason for their visit.
He revealed: “They had agreed, in principal, that an international school of excellence in ice dancing could be established and would attract the crême de la crême of skaters.
“The stadium was nearing completion in 1989, but looming on the horizon was a worse recession than even today’s.
“My dream of giving the town a re-birth of skating activity and housing for so many events failed, and had far reaching, well documented consequences.”