The History of Wootton Recreation Ground
The information contained within this article is sourced initially from the Borough of Newport Council and Medina Borough Council minutes; it starts with a meeting on the 8th January 1936, which one must assume was held in Newport.
Borough of Newport
8th January 1936, a letter was read from owners and occupiers of Wootton High Street, suggesting that the town council should consider purchasing a piece of Glebe Land [church land], for the purposes of creating a recreation ground in the village. The town clerk was requested to write Messrs H. J. Way & Sons [auctioneers] asking as to the price they required, and if there was any other alternate land in the village.
12th February 1936, A letter was read out from Messrs. H. J. Way & Sons, stating that if an offer of the figure suggested by them was made for the purchase of Glebe Land having a frontage of 450 feet, they would submit that offer to the ecclesiastical authorities, however they did not have any other suitable land available in the village.
The council decided not to take up the offer, and the clerk was instructed to make inquires as to the availability of any other land in the village.
11th March 1936, Letter read out from Messrs.Wallis, Riddett & Co., offering a piece of land in Station Road, the council decided not take up the offer.
11th May 1938, letter received from Wallis, Riddett & Co. of Ryde offering a piece of land in Wootton, which they consider suitable for a recreation ground; the council declined this offer.
14th December 1938, the council received a letter asking them if they were interested in the possible purchase of land, which formed part of Wootton Farm Estate. A sub committee was formed to view the land, which was sited between Church and Palmers Road, and meet one of the joint owners a Mr. B. Hill. After visiting the land the sub committee recommended that it be acquired at the price quoted by Mr. Hill.
11th January 1939, A decision on the purchase of the land was put on hold, pending a report by the Borough Surveyor as to the cost of fencing and other improvements required to the land.
8th February 1939, The District Valuers report giving a value for the proposed land, together with the Borough Surveyors estimate on the cost of fencing and alteration required were received by the council. The Town Clerk also stated that it may be possible to apply for a grant under the Physical Training & Recreation Act 1937.
The council recommended that part of field number 337 on the Ordinance Map, which comprised of approximately 14.75 acres and forming part of Wootton Farm Estates, together with access to Church Road be purchased. Authority of the Ministry of Health would be required to whom an application for a loan and grant would be made. The sum agreed with the joint owners of the land Mr. B. Hill & Mr G.C.Stainer was £550.00 to which the Borough Surveyor estimate of £630.00 for fencing and improvements had to be added. The motion was discussed at length and several amendments were proposed, however these were defeated, and the motion was approved.
Editors note; - Field number 337 originally had an acreage of 27.38, but around 40 plots of land for houses in Palmers Road and the High Street had been sold off, and later building plots in Church Road were also sold off. See photograph 17A of the gallery.
12th July 1939, Purchase of land at Wootton, a letter from Ministry of Health was read out giving formal consent to borrowing of £470.00 over a period of 60 years.
1939-1944, The land was purchased prior to the war [see meeting 27th March 1968], but appears to have been used for farming and allotments during the Second World War. At various times during this period and prior to ‘D’. Day it was used by army for storage of equipment and the Americans Seabees used the land and the nearby holiday camp in 1944.
7th December 1944, A renewed offer was made for the proposed recreation ground, however the council were informed that the land was not available for sale, [Note, this again conflicts with the Town Clerk statement at the 27th March 1969 meeting].
26th April 1945, The chairman informed the meeting that Mr.A.E.Long [farmer] was still using the land for agricultural purposes and they should consider looking for another piece of land.
5th June 1945, The committee requested the chairman to make further inquires regarding the status of the land, this he agreed to do.
26th October 1945, A letter was read out from the Executive Officer of the Agricultural Executive Committee, responding to one written to him by the committee. In it he stated that due to the inadequate recreation facilities that existed within the village, his executive committee would raise no abjections to the land reverting back to recreation uses at the expiration of a twelve months notice. A sub committee was asked to contact the tenant with a view terminating the lease at the earliest opportunity.
15th November 1945, The chairman reported back to the committee that the tenant [Farmer Long] had agreed to vacate the land on the 11th October 1946, and forgo the usual 12 months notice.
4th November 1948, The Borough Engineer submitted a layout plan for the recreation ground, after consideration the committee requested that a cricket pitch and changing rooms be included in the plans, [the committee also asked that a sub-committee to investigate the use of the ground as a temporary caravan park—no info. available].
21st October 1949, Town clerk reported that he was still awaiting a reply to letters that he had wrote to Wootton football and youth clubs. The Borough Surveyor submitted an estimate of £460.00 for the purchase and erection of a timber prefabricated hut for the use of football teams, this figure would include water supply and cesspit drainage.
The committee put any decision on hold until replies were received.
21st April 1950, The Borough Engineer reported that the work on the changing rooms were well in hand.
A letter from Wootton Football Club was read out, requesting permission to supply hot beverage to home supporters at half time, free of charge, visitors would be charged 2d a cup, permission was given.
23rd June 1950, The Borough Engineer reported the new hut was completed and a charge of 3s.6d. would be made for its use. A letter dated 22nd April from Wootton Youth Club was read out requesting the use of the cricket pitch on the same terms as last year, this was agreed. A letter from the football club had also been received requesting the lease of the football pitch on the same terms as last year, this to was agreed, however the town clerk was requested to advise the clubs of the charges relating to the new hut.
28th July 1950, A letter from Wootton football club was read out, in which the club requested the erection of a partition in the new hut, the committee had no objections to the proposal providing the club erected partition at their own expense to an acceptable standard, the club also requested permission to retain a key to the hut, this was agreed. The club also requested permission to erect a portable corrugated hut [10ft by 3ft by 6ft high] for the sale of hot drinks. The committee gave permission, provided the hut was dismantled and removed when not in use, sitting to be agreed with the Borough Engineer.
24th June 1964, A request was received from the rugby club, for an additional pitch for their sole use, the committee decided that due to the limited use the club made of the existing pitch, no action would be taken at present.
8th October 1968, Temporary recreation ground, New Road, Wootton, a report was presented which stated that work had been carried out on the surplus land by the pumping station off New Road. The clerk recommended that a notice be erected stating the land was owned by Newport Corporation and they had the right to close all access at any time.
It was recommended that the Borough Engineer arrange for pedestrian access at all times, and a locked gate be installed at the entrance to the land off New Road. However the pedestrian access will be close for short intervals to maintain the councils rights and prevent the creation of a public right of way over the land.
12th March 1969, The town clerk presented a letter from the Isle of Wight Rugby Club in which they inquired if it was possible to acquire a twenty-one year lease on two pitches on Wootton Recreation Ground. If the lease was granted the club would finance the building of suitable changing accommodation for use by the club during the playing season, and it would be available for other people when not required by the club. The rugby club also asked what would be the councils view on the lease of two pitched for the same period, if the club acquired property close by. The committee agreed to defer the matter to the next meeting.
27th March 1969, Reference the deferred matter from the 12th March meeting, the town clerk stated the council purchased the ground in 1939 under the Physical Training and Recreation Act 1937, and under section 4 of that act, it was possible to lease the land to the club as they requested. The council agreed to lease one rugby pitch together with land to erect a suitable building, for a period of twenty-one years at a nominal rent of £5.00 per year providing the rugby club makes the club available to other bodies when not required by the club. A second pitch could be made available to the club under the same procedure.
23rd June 1971, The Borough Engineer reported that to provide an electric light in the public toilets and the changing rooms of the football club, and provide two washbasins with hot and cold water in the changing rooms would cost £225.00. The committee authorised the work to be carried out.
A letter was also read out from the rugby club stating that they were arranging an opening ceremony of their new clubhouse on September 19th, when the club’s first XV would play a combined XV team from other clubs in Hampshire. The club requested permission to erect a marquee on the ground and sell liquor in both the clubhouse and marquee, permission was granted.
The Controlling Authority Now The Medina Borough Council.
4th June 1974, Two letters had been received from the rugby club, the first one requested permission to mark out a rugby pitch 75 yards by 40 yards for the purpose of instructing boys aged 9 to 11 years in the evenings, during the summer months, no objections were raised.
The second letter requested permission to lay a small concrete plinth in front of the pavilion; again not objections were raised providing it was to the satisfaction of the technical services officer.
8th October 1974, A letter from the rugby club was read out asking the council to proceed with the provision of car parking facilities at the recreation ground at as a mater of some urgency. It was pointed out, that Wootton was one of the few grounds within the borough that did not have parking facilities. The ground was currently used several times a week; both by rugby and football club members and visiting teams, and the lack of packing space was causing difficulties.
The Technical Service Officer submitted plans, which had been prepared by the former Borough of Newport to provide car-parking accommodation for 50 cars. The Borough Treasurer advised the council that only £1,500.00 remained in the estimates and that would be insufficient to cover the anticipated costs of the work. It was resolved that the Policy and Resources committee be asked to provide an additional sum of £3,500.00 to allow tenders to be invited for the project.
6th November 1974, With reference to the meeting held on the 8th October, the officer reported that a detailed costing of the scheme including drainage to provide parking spaces for 50 cars amounted to £10,000.00. This was rejected, and the officer was requested to investigate an alternate scheme, possibly using less expensive material with a final cost of £5,000.00.
2nd December 1974, A report was presented to the committee in line with the instruction given at the meeting held on the 6th November. The officer said that surfacing work could be carried out using a base of gravel and includes drainage down to Church Road within the £5,000.00 budget. The council recommended that the work proceed in the current financial year.
14th January 1975, A letter from the rugby club was considered by the council, it was a request by the club to extend their facilities. It stated that the original development was considered by the club to be the first stage in providing better facilities to club members. Since the original changing facilities were built, the membership and quality of competition had improved; better facilities were needed if the club was to maintain its current status. The club was seeking provisional planning permission to extend the building to include social facilities and a bar. The council approved the proposals in principle.
The contract for the new car park at the recreation ground was awarded to Dymac Construction for a figure of £5107.00. Unfortunately it was only for 20 cars and not the 50 as original envisaged.
15th November 2003, Meeting sponsored by the Parish Council was held at the Community Centre, Brannon Way, to consider improvements to the recreation ground under the banner of the ‘Doorstep Green Project’. The project went ahead.
Editors note: - If anyone can add to the history of the recreation ground, please contact the authors of web site. As of 2009 there are 40 car parking spaces.
Information supplied by M. Richards
County Records Office, Newport Isle of Wight