Coronation Playing Field

Hoole Urban District Council

The Minute Books of Hoole Urban District Council (UDC) contain the official record of its work.

As the country returned to peace-time conditions after the First World War, the Elms, on Hoole Road, became the Council’s second Town Hall.

The Council’s planning powers and its responsibilities for improving the environment, health and way of life of the people of the District were extended.

It introduced the District Library, and free dental checks and treatments were introduced in the local Primary Schools. ‘Caution’ signs were erected close to the schools, bus services were licensed, and white lines were painted down the middle of certain roads, where it was ‘deemed necessary’, as the Council worked more closely with Cheshire County Council.

The national government set up a Housing Commission to assist Councils in financing the purchase of land and the building of ‘Houses for the Working Classes’, and the Hoole Town Planning and Housing Committee, created in 1919, became responsible for housing.

The Committee was in charge of the acquisition and the use of local land. Smallholdings and allotments, greatly extended during the First World War, were also part of its responsibility. The District required land to be made available, in order to improve provision for the leisure and recreation of the people.

This very important committee included all councillors and became a meeting of the whole council.

Hoole Allotments, 1926

 

The Section of the Street Plan from Hoole Urban District Council’s Official Handbook, 1947, shows the land already used for the Allotments, which was compulsorily purchased by the Council in July 1926.

Title 1. CH438199: Land lying to the south of Park Drive South, Hoole.

The Ministry of Health approved a mortgage of £3,100. The land cost £250 per acre. Walker, Smith and Way acted for the Council. Their accounts show the annual payments made by the Council since taking control of the land during 1917.

Improving Recreation in the District

The Minute Books record that the Town Planning and Housing Committee discussed “the urgent need for a playing field for the youth of the District” in late 1919. Priority was given at this time to purchasing land to erect 60 houses.

The Council experienced growing pressure to make changes to Alexandra Park to accommodate football.

In September 1925, a proposal was put to the Parks and Allotments Sub-Committee of the Council to put in two football pitches near the playing area. The proposal was rejected on the grounds that football required a playing field and was not suitable for Alexandra Park. The Sub-Committee proposed the installation of two seats for the children to use on the south side of the play area.

Hoole Recreation Ground

The 1947 Hoole Urban District Council Street Plan calls the land the ‘Recreation Ground’, the majority of it, like the Allotments, having belonged to the estate of Hoole House. The plan shows the extended Panton Road,

Title 2: CH438200: Land and buildings on the south side of Hoole Road, Hoole.

Careful reading of the Title to the land contained in it, which became Coronation Playing Field in 1953, shows that Parcel 1, a narrow strip, was purchased by the Council in 1926, at the same time as the allotments. Today it is part of the access road to Hoole Allotments. As importantly, it is also the footpath from Panton Road to Park Drive South, which skirts Number 3 Bowling Green.

There are currently initial plans to make this footpath safer, by separating vehicles and pedestrians with a footpath through Coronation Playing Field, skirting the other sides of the Bowling Green within the playing field.

The land for the bowling green, on the South side of Panton Road extension, which is 0.429 of an acre, was purchased under the Physical Education and Training Act 1937.

Parcel 2. When Hoole UDC ended in 1954, this parcel of land was called ‘The Hockey Field, now part of Coronation Playing Field’ in the transfer of land assets. It measures 1.46 acres and was acquired under the Physical Training and Recreation Act 1937.

The Cricket Club is clearly marked. Hoole Cricket Club's pitch was here with its own pavilion, which was to become the headquarters of Hoole British Legion. There were also tennis courts by Park Drive South, and in the 1950s a hut for Hoole's Army Cadet Force was built in the same area.

There used to be a path through to the ‘Cricket Field’ from Canadian Avenue which was replaced for access by the extension to Panton Road.

It is shown in the photograph of the house opposite the corner of Panton Road and Canadian Avenue. The old path was the route to the first set of allotments, introduced under the 1908 Allotments’ Act.

Parcel 3. In February 1930 Hoole UDC went on to apply for permission to purchase ‘land for playing fields.’

The sum requested was £3,216 to purchase the additional land and 9.742 acres were to be purchased on the South side of, and fronting Hoole Road. A further £384 was to be found for ‘draining and fencing’.

The Minute Book for 1930 also records the Council deciding to approach the Playing Fields Association for a grant. It was to be twenty-three more years before the Recreation Ground became Coronation Playing Field.

29th April 1953: His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh opened Coronation Playing Field

Chester City Council registered the Title Plan to the land at the Land Registry in 1999. It shows the Pavilion (still there) and the original footpaths of Coronation Playing Field.

The gateposts to the playing field still carry commemorative plaques.

This photograph shows the current Chairman of Hoole History and Heritage Society, Ralph Earlam (then the drum major of Hoole Army Cadet Force Band), being quizzed by Prince Philip when he opened Hoole Coronation Playing Field on 29th April 1953. Ralph led the Pipe and Drum Band which played the National Anthem.

The pavilion in the background (still there) was the William Brown Pavilion, named after a long serving councillor with Hoole UDC.

Standing smartly to attention is Major Harry Pleavin, commandant of Hoole Army Cadet Force and a Hoole Urban District Councillor. Ralph recalls that Harry Pleavin personally adapted his sash to carry E.R. in place of G.R. The Queen had now succeeded her father, George VI, but her Coronation at Westminster Abbey took place on 2nd June 1953, a little over a month later.

The gentleman in the dark suit was Viscount Leverhulme, Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire.

Prince Phillip at the opening holding the Silver Key to the gates. The photograph is from the Hoole Millennium Book, a history and book of reminiscences, published by Hoole Area Residents’ Association in 2000.

 

Article researched and written by Linda Webb, March 2020, Hoole History & Heritage Society

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