The Dolphin Centre was built at a cost of £7.5 million, and was opened at a glittering gala ceremony by the Duke of Gloucester in April 1982.1
It featured a state-of-the-art pyramid roof, the largest of its kind in Europe at the time. However, the panels which make up the roof became distorted and discoloured, and in February 1990 one of them blew off in a gale, sparking a safety scare which resulted in netting being draped over most of the roof.1
Repayments on the finance lease and the general running costs meant it was costing the council around £1 million a year, until in April 1995 the decision was made to close it to the public in order to save money.
In June 2003 it was agreed that the centre would be replaced by a £25 million tower block development with 229 flats and a 12,000 square metre Asda store. The tallest block is described as an 11 storey building, although it has been argued that it will actually rise to 15 storeys.2
(This was not the first Dolphin in Romford - a coaching inn of the same name once stood in Market Place.)
1 Based on the Romford Recorder, July 23, 1999, page 4, by permission of
2 Planners say ASDA way to do it, Romford Recorder, June 20, 2003, page 7.