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ASHFORD SPORTS CLUB LIMITED

(formerly the Ashford Athletic Association)

A brief history written around 1938

The circumstances of the formation and subsequent growth of this sporting organisation are probably unique and looking back over a period of upwards of 27 years the obstacles encountered and surmounted are almost impossible of belief.

The originators in the following simple language crystallised their aims by passing this Resolution at their first Meeting, viz.:- "It was agreed that this Association is formed for the purpose of providing a ground for athletic purposes within the Parish of Ashford, Middlesex." and today the survivors may be justifiably proud of their progeny.

The financing of the project was borne by the several gentlemen concerned in equal shares and no return on the capital invested was received for the first 20 years. Today there are 37 shareholders each holding a similar number of shares and it is worthy of note that throughout these shares have always changed hands at face value. A dividend at the rate of 5% per annum has been paid on the shares since 1931 and all the clubs have received a yearly rebate of 10% from their rents since 1933.

There are four clubs on the two sports grounds situate on either side of Woodthorpe Road, as follows:-

Old Sports Ground

Ashford Bowling Club (founded 1918)
Ashford Cricket Club (known to have existed since 1855)
Ashford Hockey Club - Ladies pitch (founded 1920)

New Sports Ground

Ashford Tennis Club (founded 1914)
Ashford Hockey Club - Men’s pitch (founded 1920)

The football ground on the New Sports Ground has been vacant since the Ashford Football Club disbanded, but negotiations for letting have recently been opened up - and there is every likelihood of success - with the Old Ashfordians. This Club is composed of old scholars of the Ashford County School and they would be very desirable tenants as their members would no doubt join the cricket and tennis clubs during the summer.

The Main Pavilion on the Old Sports Ground is used as a general meeting place by the members of all the Clubs who are automatically Honorary Members of the Social Club. Various games are provided, and also refreshments under a Club registration and the Clubs usually hold their Annual Dinners and other functions there. There is a small Pavilion on the New Sports Ground but not of sufficient size for meetings, etc., and it is not provided with light or heat.

Various local activities have been helped from time to time by granting the free use of the Grounds, Pavilion, etc., and the local Committee of the King Edward VII Hospital, Windsor, have for many years held their meetings free of charge in the Main Pavilion.

The Public have always been allowed free admittance to all the Cricket Matches, a small daily charge only being made during the Annual Cricket Week and this privilege is freely used by a great many of the older residents.

The scholars particularly of Woodthorpe Road Council School have been afforded facilities for cricket practice and also for School Matches by the Cricket Club, as well as for Sports, etc., of the Football Ground. A silver cup has been put up to be played for by cricket teams from the various local schools, within the area of Feltham, Staines, and Sunbury Urban District Councils.

It may be worth while pointing out that the Sports Club are considerable ratepayers getting nothing of the services in return with the exception of a small dust collection, most of the rubbish being burnt. Since the formation of the Association in 1911 a very considerable sum of money in the total has been spent on the two Sports Grounds, the Pavilion, hedges, etc., and at all times the Directors have given voluntary service in order to conserve the finances.

After the foregoing somewhat general remarks a chronology of events in the life of the parent, the Ashford Sports Club Limited, and short details of the several clubs, who are the tenants, is set forth.

ASHFORD ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION now ASHFORD SPORTS CLUB LIMITED.

A brief history written around 1938

Owing to the lack of security of tenure of the cricket field ten sportsmen got together in 1911 with the result that the Ashford Athletic Association was formed in December of that year for the purpose of providing a ground for athletic purposes in Ashford and a lease for 21 years was taken on a piece of arable land situate on the south side of Woodthorpe Road between the Woodthorpe Road Council School and St. Hilda's Church (now known as the Old Sports Ground). This piece of land is now used as a Cricket Field, a Bowling Green and women’s Hockey Pitch during winter. The lease was signed in January 1912.

In January 1912 an order was placed to lay three tennis courts which were let the following month.

In February 1912 instructions were given for the remaining portion of the ground to be prepared and sown with grass seed.

In March 1912 it was decided to erect a pavilion on the ground and instructions were given accordingly.

On the 15th May 1912 the formal opening of the ground and pavilion took place.

In August 1912 the Cricket field was let to the Swifts Football Club.

By February 1914 three more tennis courts had to be laid and instructions had been given for a Cricket Pitch to be laid.

In December 1914 it was reported that the Pavilion had been let as a Sergeants Mess for the 10th Middlesex Regiment.

In 1916 the Cricket Field was let to the Ashford Cricket Club.

In April 1917 it was found necessary owing to the financial position of the Association to invite four new members (three being eventually secured in August 1917).

In October 1916 the Football Ground was let to the Ashford Juniors Football Club, at the same time it was agreed to lay a one rink bowling green (this was one tennis court enlarged).

In November 1916 the remaining five Tennis Courts were let to the Ashford Athletic Tennis Club (now known as the Ashford Tennis Club).

In January 1918 the Association was registered under the Business Names Act.

In February 1918 the Bowling Green was let to the Ashford Bowling Club.

In May 1918 permission was given for the Company's Water to be laid on to the ground by the various Clubs using same.

In May 1919 the Football field was let to the Ashford Swifts Football Club.

In January 1920 it was agreed to negotiate for the purchase of the Freehold of the Ground, so far held under lease.

On the 26th Match 1920 the Hon. Secretary was authorised to enter into contract for the purchase of the freehold of the Ground subject to a right of pre-emption if not used as a Sports Ground. At the same time it was decided that the Association should be converted into a Limited Liability Company to be known as the Ashford Sports Club Limited.

On the 26th November 1920 it was reported that the Ashford Sports Club Limited (formerly Ashford Athletic Association) had been registered and incorporated.

On the 16th December 1920 the assets of the Ashford Athletic Association were sold to the Ashford Sports Club Limited. It will be noted that the Athletic Association Members transferred their holdings at the amount they put into the ground and did not make a penny profit.

By June 1921, the number of Shareholders was raised to 30 including the four Clubs, tenants of the Sports Club and in that month the Club was registered for the sale of alcoholic liquors.

In June 1922 a paid secretary was appointed as a part time engagement.

On October 1922 the shareholders authorised the Directors to look around for additional land for purchase in order to provide more accommodation for the several Clubs, and, in the following month negotiations were opened with the West London Schools Manager to purchase 7acres almost opposite to the Old Sports Ground and such negotiations were brought to a successful conclusion a few months later, this land being hereafter known as the "New Sports Ground".

In May 1923 the Secretary was also appointed Treasurer and a firm of Chartered Accountants as Auditors.

In October 1923 the Shareholders approved generally the proposed lay-out of the two Sports Grounds and agreed to additional lavatory accommodation, also the building of a new kitchen and lounge.

In November 1923 the agricultural tenant on the New Sports Ground was bought off and instructions given for the land to be laid out for Sport.

In December 1923 a sub-committee of Directors submitted a report and scheme for allotting the Sports Grounds and received the Board's sanction to negotiate with the various Clubs concerned.

In March 1924 seven shareholders each holding a similar number of shares to the existing shareholders were obtained.

In October 1924 the secretary having resigned, also the bar attendant, a steward and stewardess were appointed but were dismissed a few months later owing to deficiencies in the Bar accounts; the stewardess being subsequently re-engaged.

Since June 1925 the secretarial work had been carried out by the Directors voluntarily.

In August 1925 a fresh tenancy of the Football Ground was entered into with the Ashford Football Club for one season only.

In September 1925, a cricket match was played against Mr. P. F. Warner's eleven which included three England Captains.

In January 1926 negotiations for fresh tenancies were concluded with the Bowling, Hockey and Tennis Clubs.

In September 1926 instructions were given for the erection of a length of corrugated iron fencing on the Woodthorpe Road frontage adjoining the Football Ground.

In June 1927 a three quarter size Billiards Table and necessary accessories was purchased and installed in the Pavilion.

In October 1927 permission was given for Woodthorpe Road Schoolboys to use the Football Ground during the ensuing winter, free of charge and this was renewed again later for the following winter season.

In March 1928, 850 feet of chestnut fencing was purchased for the New Sports Ground, also a further length of corrugated iron fencing with gates.

In March 1929 the Stewardess tendered her resignation and a new stewardess was engaged.

In July 1929 the Football Ground was let for the ensuing season to the Ashford Juniors Club and this letting was subsequently renewed for another season.

In June 1930 the Football Ground was loaned to the Staines Carnival Committee.

In April 1931 notice was received from the Middlesex County Council to acquire by compulsory purchase the Football Ground. Steps were taken to oppose and subsequently the County Council informed the Club’s Solicitors that they were taking no further action.

Since April 1931 a dividend of 5% less tax has been declared at each Annual General Meeting.

In April 1932 the football ground was let to the Ashford Football Club for the ensuing season.

In July 1932, the small Pavilion on the New Sports Ground was purchased by the Sports Club from the Tennis Club.

In March 1933 the Tennis Club applied for a lease of their holding and negotiations were somewhat protracted, a lease for 21 years from the 25th March 1935 being finally settled.

In July 1933 a dividend of 5% less tax was declared at the Annual General Meeting also a Bonus of 10% off rents paid by the several Clubs and a similar dividend and bonus has been approved by the shareholders at subsequent Annual General Meetings to the present day.

In July 1934 the compensation for placing a sewer under the Football Ground was settled by the Sports Club with the Staines Urban District Council, the Sports Club retaining the right to build over the sewer if desired.

In September 1936 a lease for 21 years from 29th September 1936 was granted to the Bowling Club of the Bowling Green.

In September 1936 it was agreed to buy out the right of pre-emption contained in the Conveyance of the Old Sports Ground and this was duly carried out.

In September 1937 it was reported that the Middlesex County Council were desirous of acquiring the Football Ground on the New Sports Ground.

At the end of June 1938 notice was received from the Middlesex County Council that they had issued a Compulsory Purchase order upon the Old Sports Ground, for the purpose, the Directors understand, of providing a playing field for the scholars of the Woodthorpe Road Council School.

While the Directors have every sympathy with this object they respectfully submit that they have in the past assisted this School to their utmost, and they have for the last 27 years provided a sports ground for young people in this district and in these days when the question of Physical Culture is so much to the forefront it will be seen that the Sports Club have been doing their share to this end.

ASHFORD BOWLING CLUB.

A brief history written around 1938

This Club was founded in 1918 with a small membership. The original green was a Tennis Court. The first bowling green, (three short rinks) was laid in 1920. When the Tennis Club was moved to the New Sports Ground the Bowling Club acquired sufficient land for a full size green and very soon added an extra rink at the same time lengthening the original green. Later the last two rinks were added to make a full sized Green which has been accepted recently by the Middlesex Bowling Association as being suitable for County games. In addition the Bowling Club has made considerable improvements to the surrounding ground by the planting of shrubs, etc., and also built a fair size Club House. The Club now has a membership of 80.

The cost of laying the green and other work has been met by the members of the Club. The Club hold under a lease from the Sports Club for 21 years from 29th September 1936, determinable at the lessees option only at 7 or 14 years.

ASHFORD CRICKET CLUB.

(Member of the Cricket Club Conference.)

A brief history written around 1938

There is definite evidence that this Club has been in existence since the year 1855 and in all probability it was founded sometime before that date - there is still living a life member who joined the Club about 65 years ago and has taken an active part ever since, first as a player, then as an umpire and to-day as a scorer.

During the War the Club ground was always available for members of H.M. Forces and for two or three years cricket matches were arranged between two teams of convalescing soldiers, while at other times many well-known cricketers have played on the ground.

The present playing membership is 53 and in addition there are 123 Honorary Members; further than this a considerable number of residents particularly Old Age Pensioners derive much enjoyment from being able to watch the matches on Sundays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, free of charge, except during Cricket Week. It is estimated that 90% at least of the total number of members and regular spectators are ratepayers of Ashford.

An Annual Cricket Week has been held since 1906 during the first week in August and has given much enjoyment to thousands of local people as in addition to Cricket, various sports, sideshows and fireworks displays have been included among the attractions. Large sums of money have been expended from time to time and renovations to the wicket alone have cost eighty pounds (£80) during the last four years, whilst in 1937 a further amount of seventy-five pounds (£75) was raised to purchase and erect an effective wire screen at one end of the Ground to prevent cricket balls reaching the public highway and adjoining property. A concrete practice wicket was laid down a few years ago. At least one member of the Club has played for Middlesex and at present one is playing for Northamptonshire. The Club hold on a yearly tenancy, and if the ground is lost it will probably mean the Club will be closed down as suitable ground is not available in this neighbourhood.

ASHFORD, (MIDDX.) HOCKEY CLUB.

A brief history written around 1938

The Ashford Ladies Hockey Club was formed shortly after the War. In 1920 a Men’s’ Section was started and the Club has continued to flourish under the above title. In August 1924 the Club became tenants of the Ashford Sports Club Limited and rented two pitches together with the use of the Pavilion and has played on these grounds ever since.

During the season 1937-1938 two mens’ elevens and one womens’ eleven were run each Saturday whilst a match was arranged on most Sundays.

At the present time the Ashford County School provides a nursery for the Club each season a number of pupils on leaving school, become members of the Club.

The present membership of the Club is some 50 playing members besides which there are over 20 vice-presidents and honorary members. The Club hold under a year to year seasonal tenancy.

ASHFORD (MIDDX.) LAWN TENNIS CLUB.

A brief history written around 1938

The Club was launched on 30th March 1914 with a membership then limited to 24.

Two courts were at first rented from the Athletic Association but in spite of many members being away on active service the Club prospered and three courts were necessary in 1917 and five in 1918.

In 1925 the Club was offered its present ground with space for 13 courts - three hard courts were laid and six grass courts prepared. In 1926 a small Pavilion was erected and subsequently sold to the Sports Club but full use of the Main Sports Club Pavilion was retained for the many social functions run. Two additional grass courts were added for the use of the junior section.

Three hard courts and three grass courts are still in use and three additional courts are being prepared for next season. The present playing membership is 95 and in addition there are about 20 vice-presidents.

The Club is affiliated to the Middlesex Lawn Tennis Association.

The Club hold a lease for 21 years from the 25th March, 1935, determinable at lessees options only at 7 or 14 years.