The Grafton Centre in Cambridge first opened a Ping Pong Parlour in September 2018 as a result of a collaborative project between the Centre and Cambridge City Council. Its aim was to increase levels of physical activity whilst also giving people an additional reason to visit the Centre and help it to continue to thrive.

The Ping Pong Parlour at the Centre has reopened after a break due to Covid and is welcoming people back through the doors to once again experience the joy of free table tennis!

The Grafton Centre is run by the management company JLL, which has seen numerous success stories with Ping Pong Parlours at other locations up and down the country.

Ian Clifton, the Operations Manager at The Grafton says:

“We were aware of the success of other Ping Pong Parlours that JLL manage. Table tennis is a great family sport that people can participate in as they shop and gives people an additional reason to visit; it also increases dwell time and spend.

“The Ping Pong Parlour has received fantastic feedback. We’ve had great community engagement in association with the council and it appeals to all age groups from children to pensioners and also under-represented groups who are grateful for the support.

“The Ping Pong Parlour matches the social value principles of JLL and although we don’t have actual statistics, we are sure that, footfall, spend levels and dwell time have all increased.”

An obvious benefit to the shopping centre is to have increased footfall and spending levels, but the Ping Pong Parlour also brings great value to the local community.

For a long time, the Cambridge City Council have been big supporters of table tennis, and that’s why you can find numerous free outdoor table tennis tables dotted around the city.

Active Lifestyles officer, Joe Notarnicola at Cambridge City Council said:

“When the chance came up to support a Ping Pong Parlour, we were really excited to see how popular table tennis could be with local people and also visitors to the Grafton Centre and the city.

“The Active Lifestyles Team has been working with the residents for years now helping to increase physical activity. Free table tennis within a shopping centre seemed like a no brainer to support and develop with Table Tennis England and the Grafton Centre.”

Since the Ping Pong Parlour opened in 2018 it has gone from strength to strength, originally opening in a small unit containing three tables, growing to a staggering ten tables at its height of popularity before Covid, and as it reopens it boasts six tables for visitors to play on.

The Parlour is so popular that Cambridge City Council secured funding from Table Tennis England for a TT Activator called Fred, who was able to run Bat & Chat sessions for the over 55s, support disability sessions and coordinate hugely popular women’s hours.

The Parlour also appealed to young people and families with children coming to play after school, and families getting active together at weekends in between shopping.

Joe Notarnicola adds: “We’re so excited for the Parlour to be reopening again. It has been a long time coming and we have had so many people ask when it will be opening again.

“It has been as important to some people as a gym is to others. It is their place to exercise, relieve stress, have fun and socialise and is loved by so many in the city and outside of the city too.

“It will be great to see it busy again with so many different people playing and having fun.”

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