History of the Recreation Ground – Can you help?


History of the Recreation Ground/Playing Field

In January’s “Hill” I mentioned my plan to produce a comprehensive booklet about the history of our recreation ground/playing field. Research is going well and my thanks to those who have very kindly responded so far to my plea for help.

I have worked through the parish council minutes made available and all back copies of “The Hill” up to 1990 and, from hereon, have the added benefit of the minutes from the playing field management committee. My self-set deadline of a first draft by 25th December 2021 remains achievable but I now need YOUR help. I have much material on the physical development of the grounds but I also want to include the personal aspects i.e. the clubs, societies and their members and also the events which have been held. As ever, I am after photos, newspaper cuttings, programmes, posters, anecdotes etc and, as you will see below, can now be more specific on the areas where I am currently short on material and data.

Football Club

Although a letter from “the recently formed Childe Okeford Football Club” in 1948 initiated the purchase of the playing field by the parish council there is no evidence that any matches were actually played until a youth football club was formed in 1961. Even then this seems to have been an internal and informal set up. I have been told that when the Cycle Speedway was running (1951 – 1958) there were no formal football nor cricket matches held on the grounds. The first formal set up with affiliation to a local league came in 1968 with the Manston and Child Okeford FC. I would love to hear from anyone who can shed any light on the use of the grounds for football between 1950 and 1968.

Cricket Club

A similar story to football. Parish council minutes refer to a pitch being mowed in 1952 but there are no records seen regarding any formal club or matches until 1981. There was however a cricket club fund raiser in 1950 in which “ladies in men’s costume batted first, set up such a good score that the men, in ladies attire, were hard put to equal”. (Perhaps it is time to consider a rematch?!). Again, can anyone fill in the gaps.

Still on cricket, does anyone know what happened to the score hut/box which was sited on the right hand side of the ground just past the shed? I remember it when we came to the village but where did it go? Does anyone have any photos of it?

With both these clubs I have no doubt that as I progress beyond 1990 I shall need to seek further help on the detail. If anyone wishes to pre-empt my reading I would be delighted to hear from you

Netball Club

In June 1971 we read “the netball pitch has been marked out”. Where? Was there a club? What happened to it?


In September 1971 there was an angling section of the sports club which had members but no secretary. While it’s difficult to see where this fits with the playing field, as the ditches aren’t that deep, I am curious to find out more about this club which I have never before heard of or seen mentioned.

Archery and Shooting

Both are activities mentioned in 1971 as being available in the youth club. Where did they take place? Who organised them? When did they stop?

It would be nice to try and link the archery with “The Butts” but, perhaps, that’s a tad whimsical.


The provision of 2 courts was included in the original design for the playing field in 1950 but there is no evidence they were built. In 1989 the parish council agreed a sports club request to build a court on the recreation ground (as it was called by then). I have yet to read beyond 1990 but was a court built and, if so, where and what happened to it.


In January 1986 the WI asked if a croquet lawn could be made available on the playing ground and the June edition records the lawn was operational. As the WI meeting minutes are at Dorset History Centre and, at the time of writing, inaccessible, does anyone have any recollection of croquet on the playing field at that time?

Community Centre

After the opening of the centre a plaque was fixed on the wall (you can still see where) acknowledging the work of Andy Chick and Mrs Harris in “making it happen”. What has happened to it? Has it gone the same way as certain of the “Village of the Year” plaques? Does anyone have a close up photo of it?

I am also trying to compile a list of all clubs, societies etc. which have utilised the facilities on a regular basis over the years. In addition to the clubs mentioned above, I am advised of these others:

  • Cycle Speedway

  • Flower Club

  • Little Oaks Toddlers

  • Men’s Forum

  • Messy Church

  • Mills Singers

  • Okeford Minstrels

  • Toddler Group

  • Women’s Institute

  • Yoga

  • Youth Club

  • Zumba

Any information on these clubs would be appreciated i.e.

  • when did they start using the facilities?

  • when, as appropriate, did they stop?

  • what was the purpose of the club, society?

  • Photos, newspaper cuttings, programmes, posters

  • Any amusing anecdotes?

  • Any competitions or awards won?

Are there more clubs or societies I have missed?

Nothing is too trivial. I would far rather have too much than not enough. Please give me a ring, send me an email or pop items through the letter box. Any photos, cuttings etc would be copied and the originals returned to their owners.

Finally, I haven’t made reference to the Children’s Corner /Playground as this will be a separate chapter which I haven’t yet researched. But no harm if you want to start browsing for photos or jot down any memories on this aspect in the certainty I shall be asking for your help later on.

Many thanks.

David Pope 861411, [email protected]

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