Thursday, 21 October 2021

Wargrave Local Historical Society

THE sporting history of Wargrave recreation ground was discussed at January’s meeting of the society.

Members were given a talk by Mick Pope, who has been involved with many teams in the village who play at the field, off Recreation Road.

Mr Pope said that in 1888, the vicar of Wargrave first called for the establishment of a cricket field for boys in the village but it wasn’t until 1907 that benefactress Harriette Cooke Smith donated 11 acres for use as a recreation ground.

She also provided the first pavilion, groundsman's house and an endowment for the ground’s upkeep.

The recreation ground had a series of groundsmen who tended to the facility, the first of whom used a mower pulled by a pony.

Current groundsman Martin Wood took over in 1990 and still lives in the house with his family.

The pavilion provided changing rooms for men’s and ladies’ teams in the village as well as an area where refreshments could be served after matches.

It was converted to meeting rooms and offices for the parish council in 2011 after a new building was built next door, coming to be known as the “old pavilion”.

Mr Pope also spoke about other buildings at the ground, including the bowls club, scout and guide huts, youth centre and tennis club as well as the refurbished children’s play area.

The tennis courts have been used by the Czech team, including Jan Kodes, to practise for Wimbledon, while Olympic long jumper Mary Rand and long-distance runner Bruce Tulloh also trained there.

Apart from village sports teams, other activities to take place on the recreation ground included village fetes, cycle speedway and the annual Wargrave Runners 10km race.  Mr Pope provided a display of photographs and newspaper cuttings for members to look at following his talk.

The society’s next meeting will be on Tuesday, February 13, when Catherine Sampson will talk about Berkshire churches and churchyards.

The annual meeting will be on Tuesday, March 13.

Meetings are held at the Old Pavilion in the recreation ground, starting at 8pm.

For more information, call Peter Delaney on 0118 940 3121 or visit

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