It is proving a crazy twelve months for Blythe Cricket Club as it refurbishes its club-house and changing rooms at the Cresswell ground.
But crazy in a good way!
It all started five years back, with an exhausting period of writing reports, undertaking negotiations and the rest – and then late last year Blythe were awarded just under half-a-million pounds in a Big Lottery grant!
The money has a specific purpose: to knock down the old pavilion, and create a brand-new club house – which will double as a purpose-built new Draycott & Cresswell community centre during the week.
New changing rooms (for women as well as men) are also part of the plan.
If you’ve walked the public footpath along the side of the ground, or you have been to watch a game there recently, you’ll have seen that work is already under way.
But… why have the club-house double as a community centre? Well, it was a condition of the lottery grant that the new building be open to the community – and the club are pretty happy about that anyway.
Club chairman Colin Dawson told us: “Our teams only really play cricket at the weekends (though the juniors sometimes play in the week), so there is plenty of time when members of the local community could use it.
“It will be ideal for a variety of uses, some ‘official’, such as a possible NHS outreach centre, to the more casual, such as meetings or dances and luncheon clubs. Anybody from the community is welcome to come forward with ideas on what they would like to do in it.”
It really will be purpose-built too, as for the first time at the ground, there will be disabled toilets.
Bye bye pavilion
As the pavilion finally comes down, it will be the end of an era.
The pavilion was built in 1926, when the ground was owned by the Blythe Colour Works. The owners at the time, the Wildblood Family, were the old-fashioned type who believed in ‘providing’ for their workers. It was they who created the cricket ground (as well as the tennis courts).
However, the poor old wooden pavilion can no longer stand the winters, so it was simply empty half the year. The new centre will be weather-proof!
Cresswell residents will be pleased to hear that the problem of congested road-parking on the top of the hill will be much alleviated, as parking facilities are also being improved.
The idea is of course to ensure that the club has a future for another 100 years.
It will also be more community-oriented than it has been in the past. A few years ago Blythe had no children’s cricket teams, but now around a dozen teams use the ground including under-nines to under-17s.
Sadly, the senior women’s cricket team had to fold because it couldn’t attract enough players. Hopefully, it will return one day.
The residents too should find that, from now on, the new centre gives their community projects a place in which they can focus, and make good things happen!
(The crazy thing is that the new housing estate about to be built in Cresswell also has a community centre as part of its plans, so very soon Cresswell will have two community centres within 100 yards of each other!!).
With good fortune and a ‘following wind’ as they say, the new developments at the ground will all be finished by Christmas.
In the meantime, why not go along and have a look for yourself? If you go on a Saturday afternoon, you can even have a drink at the club-bar….