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History of sport in Dagnam Park

See recent developments on sports fields, (May 2012)

Apart from the cricket Don Tait has informed me that he is also aware of polo being played. As far as is known that was it; right up until the 1950's. When I first went to the park in about 1953/4 the grass in the "playing fields" was up to my chin, though I may have only been 4 feet tall at the time. By the time I got to the Secondary School, Quarles, in 1959 the long grasses had been mowed back and numerous football pitches were sprinkled across the park along with a Rugby pitch and somewhat later a Cricket pitch which as far as I am aware was not utilised by the schools. These pitches were used by both Quarles and Harrowfields, two schools with huge numbers of pupils, that both bordered the park, one to the south and the other to the east. Clubs used some pitches at weekends and as the numbers of pupils in the schools declined local football clubs took up the slack and began to make more use of the pitches especially at weekends along with a local cricket club .

There were also several Tennis Courts, alongside the Park Keepers compound, my guess is that they were installed in the sixties but had been abandoned by the council and were unusable by the end of the seventies/early eighties.

As time went on the park keepers were removed and then the sports changing rooms and toilet facilities (a concrete bunker on the edge of Hatters Wood and a wooden shed) were gradually destroyed by vandalism and neglect. Some pitches which were very poorly drained, became untenable and fell into disuse. Organised sport ended in Dagnam Park in 1986 (see below) when the Council decided as a cost cutting excercise to cease all maintenance of the pitches and other facilities. The remnants of the built facilities were then removed. ............DEL

Cricket is no longer played in Dagnam Park, but the Noak Hill Taverners still play at the ground in Church Rd.

Don Tait adds..."In early April 1973 the ground used by Romford Football Club was put up for sale and the club approached the Council to see if they had any land that the football club could use. Someone on the council proposed that the club could use the manor for their games as the 87 bus route could be used by fans going too and coming from the parkland and to quote Ben Cohen, the then secretary of Harold Hill Tenant's Association "I think that it would be a big step forward in providing much needed facilities for youngsters" and that he personally could see no objections from [his] members. Cllr Frank Coffin stated that "any proposal had to be looked at and then be considered on its merits" Luckily enough the council saw sense and the application did not go through." Quotes from the Romford Observer May 1973.

Cricket at Dagnam Park from the Chelmsford Chronicle

One game against Stondon on May 28th 1866 and the other against South Weald on 24th May? also probably 1866.

The picture below is from a 1960's commercial postcard and was taken from close to the car park. The Lime Tree on the left is still there. On the near right is the boundary fence to the park keepers compound. On the right in front of the circle of trees is the wooden changing/storage shed and the white left of centre building was the cricket pavilion, essentially a steel doored asbestos roofed concrete bunker.

This picture taken from the new car park shows football pitches and in the distance a rugby pitch. 1975.

Well tended Rose beds in the foreground!

Cricket Pavillion on the edge of Hatters Wood in the early sixties

Below Harold Hill Cllr, Dennis Cook campaigning against the pitch closures. Cutting from the Romford Recorder.