This week 30 years ago: Police hunt Sobell Leisure Centre arsonist

Islington Gazette: September 12, 1986

Islington Gazette: September 12, 1986 - Credit: Archant

Detectives were hunting an arsonist who could have razed a “showpiece” leisure centre to the ground.

The blaze, in the early hours, was confined to a balcony near the ice rink in the Michael Sobell Centre in Hornsey Road.

Only prompt action from fire crews stopped the fire spreading – though it still caused £1,000 of damage to floor and ceiling tiles and windows. A pile of phone directories was also set ablaze.

The arsonist’s motive was unknown. Robert Saffrey, recreation manager at the leisure centre, said he did not know anyone with a grudge against it.

However, the centre was able to reopen the next day, with the damaged area screened off.