COWLING RECREATION GROUND
At the Annual Parish Council Meeting on 17th March 1919 the subject of providing a War Memorial was on the agenda.
The members wanted it to be a worthy tribute to those who had lost their lives in the recent Great War of 1914-18. The sacrifice they had made must be honoured and always remembered.
The proposal was to build a Memorial Shelter and make a recreation ground to provide facilities for healthy outdoor activities, games, sports and a children's play area.
Since 1890 Cowling Cricket Club had rented a field which was used for grazing cattle. Cowling Temperance Band had a hut on the site for their practices too. This field had good access to the main road and was in the centre of the village. In 1923 Mr. Everett Binns, a local mill owner, purchased a field lower down the village, and as a certain amount of work had to be done to the ground it was 1925 when the first match was played there (the current cricket and football field).
IT WAS THEREFORE UNANIMOUSLY DECIDED THAT THE OLD CRICKET FIELD WAS THE IDEAL SITE FOR THE MEMORIAL AND RECREATION GROUND.
The land was now owned by six sisters - Dorothy Pickles, Elizabeth Smith, Hannah Cowgill, Janey Smith, Millicent Brigg and Penninah Smith, all but one having had sons serving in the war, they were anxious to safeguard the value and importance of this land. They agreed to sell, but only if its status and uses were protected forever. Therefore a Covenant was set up and the deeds clearly state and demand that "THE LAND SHOULD BE SET APART AND FOR EVER USED AND MAINTAINED AS A RECREATION GROUND FOR THE INHABITANTS OF COWLING, AND PART THEREOF AS A PERMANENT MEMORIAL TO THE OFFICERS AND MEN OF COWLING WHO FELL IN THE GREAT WAR". Instructions as to its management are noted in the Covenant and the limitations to its use. It clearly states that it can never be sold nor any part thereof. One could look on it as Cowling's Village Green!
It was agreed that the land be purchased with money raised by public subscription. Over £700 was donated which more than covered the cost. The building work, landscaping, levelling, walling and other costs would be raised by efforts. A three day Bazaar held in the Methodist Chapel Schoolroom was expected to raise £1,200. Everyone worked hard to get things moving.
The Memorial was to be in the form of a handsome dressed stone Shelter with oak seating and a glass partition. This was set in a landscaped Rose Garden looking across to Cowling Hill. The Plaque was placed on the wall of the shelter facing the road. It had the 27 names of men who gave their lives in the Great War 1914-18 and later 7 men who died in the 1939-45 War were added. Another Memorial in the Holy Trinity Church Yard lists 54 names from the 1914-18 War and 8 names from the 1939-45 War.
Tennis Courts were laid out and a Putting Green too. Swings, slide, see-saw and sandpit were in place and seats all around the field. The seats along the west facing wall were very popular as you faced the sun and were out of the wind!
In 1937 a former resident Mr. Stephen Hartley made a generous gift of a pavilion for the use of the tennis players and spectators. The tennis courts were very well used for many years. The putting green was turned into allotments during the second war as there was a campaign to "Dig for Victory". It was used until the early 1950's and then grassed over.
John Binns & Sons of Croft Mill gave money to landscape and plant rose beds and borders on the occasion of their centenary. The Annual Gala is always held on the field, this is always a popular event with all the usual attractions including a fair, also Gala Queen, sports, fell race and clay pigeon shoot. The proceeds always going to local groups.
Sadly, patterns of behaviour have declined -the Tennis Pavilion was vandalised in the 1980's, and then burned down. The War Memorial Shelter suffered too - that was taken down as it was being made unsafe and a simple stone structure was erected in its place and the former Plaque placed on it.
The Remembrance Service is held there each alternate year with the Parish Church
Based on the Cowling Recreation Ground Covenant of 1923.
Credit - Available upon request.