THE fight is hotting up to save the country’s oldest working gym from demolition when Wigan and Leigh College students leave the Railway Road campus.

The Marsh Gymnasium, which was presented as a gift to the people of Leigh in 1902, is under threat following a college ultimatum to Leigh Gymnastics Club to find funding or face the gym being flattened.

A new Save the Marsh Gymnasium Committee has organised a public meeting at Leigh Miners’ Club, Twist Lane, Leigh, on Monday, October 19, at 7.30pm.

Members are seeking help to save the historic building and include it in the Marsh Trust to protect its future.

Wigan Council is backing the club’s plight and Leigh MP and Health Minister Andy Burnham, whose children attend the club, has given his full support.

Wigan Council’s conservation officer met college advisors a few months ago with regard to their options for disposing of the Railway Road campus building.

The initial preferred option was for total demolition, but this was not supported.

The college has been asked to produce a report on the Railway Road building as a whole to include its historical and architectural significance.

This would be a discussion document to identify which parts, if any, could be considered for demolition.

Club coach, chairman of the Save the Marsh Gymnasium committee and vice chairman of the Friends of the Marsh Family, Jill Orrell, said: “We are confident we could attract funding to help restore this historic building to its former glory.

“This building is a part of the history of Leigh. The Remembrance Day parade has assembled there for 90 years.

“With the 2012 Olympics fast approaching, this is an ideal time for encouraging youngsters to abandon “street culture” get focused and divert energy into something positive and rewarding such as gymnastics.

“The members of Leigh Gymnastics club play a big part in community events. For the children lucky enough to already attend the Marsh Gymnasium, they deserve investment. The regular users of the gym, alongside the local community, will fight to keep it that way.

“We look forward to seeing everyone at the meeting.”

College principal Cath Hurst said: “ A full withdrawal of the college from Railway Road is planned. It is not up to the high standard of our other buildings.

“The college is aware that a proposal has been put forward to establish a new trust related to the gym and the college is very interested in this development.”