Leisure & Recreation in Hoole
Hoole Parks and Open Green Spaces
J.C. Loudon, Hoole House Estate, and the People’s Parks in Hoole
John Claudius Loudon, an eminent landscape designer and authority, visited the renowned gardens of Hoole House, “one of the most remarkable specimens of the kind in England”, in 1831. He was there at the personal invitation of Lady Elizabeth Broughton, who kept the garden for her own use and that of a close circle of friends. He really admired Lady Broughton’s own design of the famous Rock Garden of Hoole House. J.C. Loudon’s article describing it in ‘The Gardener’s Magazine’ in 1838 made it internationally famous.
From 1857 Arthur and Elizabeth Potts developed the grounds and gardens of Hoole Hall country house, building the conservatory which enabled Arthur Potts to pursue his passionate interest and great expertise in growing orchids, one of which was named after Hoole Hall. Elizabeth Potts was an accomplished flower grower.
However, J.C. Loudon recognised the need for the creation of public improvements. The public park movement had already begun in the 1830s after his visit to Hoole House. At first this was due to concerns about public health, mortality rates, loss of access to green spaces and the need for leisure and recreation for the people in the rapidly growing industrial towns. J.C. Loudon also saw the need to create attractive public spaces where all the classes of society could mingle easily. He believed that creating public parks and recreation grounds could generate community pride.
In 1894, Hoole was designated an Urban District Council, just 46 years after the opening of Chester General Railway Station.
The population continued to grow, as did the demand for housing. By 1899 the Public Health report on Hoole noted that 300 houses were being constructed each year across the district.
In 1896 the 100 acres of land which had been occupied by the very successful Royal Agricultural Show at Hoole in June 1893, was offered for disposal and sale when Claude Hamilton Vivian, who had lived at Hoole House until then, returned to the family seat in Anglesey.
Mrs Elizabeth Potts, the widow of Arthur Potts of Hoole Hall, bought Hoole House and its grounds in 1896 and created a drive and spinney leading from the gardens to Hoole Lane.
The unique society and community of urban Hoole continued to develop rapidly on the hitherto green fields and the street plan spread from Vicarage Road as far as what is now Canadian Avenue.
Hoole Urban District Council, with newly acquired planning and financial powers, took advantage of the opportunity to create most of the area’s parks and open space land as it became available after 1896.
An Important Legacy of Hoole Urban District Council 1894-1954
In 1894, when Hoole Urban District Council was formed, it had already secured the incorporation of part of the Township of Newton-by-Chester, between the Hoole Road and the Cheshire Lines Railway into the District.
There were later boundary adjustments. In 1936, Newton–by-Chester was dissolved and areas of Newton and Plas Newton, shown on the 1947 map, were incorporated into Hoole Urban District, along with 99 acres of Hoole Village. The ring road was emerging as a north east boundary. Also in 1936, Great Boughton gained 18 acres from the District, losing 5 acres back to Hoole Urban District on its south easterly boundary.
In 1947, the Official Handbook and Guide to the District, which covered the expanded Council area, was published.
The guide described how the Council worked to establish a good standard of Public Health for residents and emphasised the parks and open green spaces available for public leisure and recreation. Plans for the further development of housing were also outlined.
Local services, places of worship, and the clubs and societies of the area were listed.
As Chairman of the Hoole Urban District Council, Mr. John R. Hughes welcomed the publication of the Official Handbook and Guide, saying “I am certain that this publication will reinforce the already strong community of interest existing in the district and I commend it without hesitation to both resident and visitor.”
Recently more documents about Local Government in Cheshire have become available, including those drawn up by Hoole Urban District Council in its last days. The last meeting of the District Council took place on 8th March 1954, and the District was incorporated into Chester Council on 1st April 1954.
In its preparations for the change, the District Council drew up a list of properties, including parks and open green spaces, which were to be transferred by order to Chester Council. This document gives the details of all the land purchased for this statutory purpose by the District Council between 1894 and 1954, and under which Acts of Parliament it was acquired. Alexandra Park, with its buildings and structures, contains almost eight acres, 6.231 acres adjoining Canadian Avenue and Panton Road, and 1.653 acres adjoining Canadian Avenue and Hoole Road. The document confirms the legal fact that Alexandra Park was acquired under the 1875 Public Health Act for the benefit and pleasure of the people of Hoole, and that it was purchased by funding from the ratepayers of Hoole. A surprise in the document is the fact that Walker Street Playground (0.238 acres) was acquired under the same act and for the same purposes and is thus similarly protected.
Hoole Allotments, at the rear of properties on the north side of Hoole Lane and the east side of Canadian Avenue were purchased under the Small Holdings and Allotments Act 1908.
No.3 Bowling Green and its building and structures, (0.429 acres) on the south side of Panton Road extension, was created after the Bowling Greens of Alexandra Park, under the Physical Training and Recreation Act. 1937. What became Coronation Playing Fields, was opened by His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, on 29th April 1953, just over four weeks before the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth on 2nd June of that year.
The Fields were from two parcels of land. The first, 9.742 acres of Playing field on the south side of and fronting Hoole Road, and the second, a ‘hockey field’, measuring 1.468 acres of land at the western end of Park Drive, were combined to create the Coronation Playing Fields. Both parcels of land were acquired under the Physical Training and Recreation Act. 1937.
The total area of land purchased for the statutory purpose of providing public leisure and recreation was, and remains, 32.28 acres of land.
The orders for all properties transferred from Hoole Urban District Council to Chester Council came into effect on 1st April 1954, the ‘Vesting Day’ of the expanded Council. These properties were then transferred by order, without modification, to Cheshire West and Chester Council, coming into effect on ‘Vesting Day’ 1st April 2009 in whose stewardship the parks and open green spaces now rest for the foreseeable future.
The Creation of Alexandra Park, Hoole, 1900-1913
In July 1900 Hoole Urban District Council decided to consult its ratepayers in order to create a Public Park and Recreation Ground.
As a result, under the terms of the 1875 Public Health Act, Hoole Urban District Council purchased a plot of land from Thomas Bater and William Williams ‘containing 6 acres, and 37 perches’ to form Hoole Public Park, which was opened by Mr. Robert Yerburgh, local Member of Parliament on 7th May 1904.
Robert Yerburgh, it was reported in the Chester Courant, opened the gate to Hoole Park with a silver key which had been presented to him.
The township of Hoole was developing rapidly: by 1899 three hundred houses a year were being built and the population was increasing. Because a park and recreation ground for the benefit and recreation of the residents and children was seen as an important improvement, after 1904 there were plans to extend the very popular park, at the public expense, almost immediately.
In 1910, the Council purchased a further three acres of land between the established Public Park and Hoole Road. Before 1908, Canadian Avenue was not a through road; it was laid from Hoole Lane to the corner of the Public Park. There was a suggestion that the through road could be named ‘Park Road’, because it would run along the frontage of the land which the Council eventually purchased to extend the park in 1910.
Hoole Urban District Council drew up a set of covenants with landowner Cecil Plumbe Smith. The agreement described what the park would contain, including its set of buildings, upon completion. These covenants remain in force today and bind the land to being used as the park in perpetuity.
Ambitious plans for the park and recreation ground extension, which included a bowling green, formally laid out beds and buildings (the park keeper’s lodge, pavilion, and conveniences) and railings were drawn up.
By 1911, the bowling green, paths and beds were laid out. On 9th January the first park keeper, Mr. Arthur Ellis from Westminster Road, was appointed. He became responsible for opening and closing and maintaining the park, and for enforcing the Council’s by-laws. However, the Park Keeper’s Lodge, bowls pavilion and conveniences remained to be completed.
The Urban District Council had always intended to ask permission of Her Majesty Queen Alexandra to name Hoole Public Park ‘The Alexandra Park’ so on 27th May 1911 the Council wrote to Her Majesty expressing “our deep loyalty and devotion” and asking her “gracious permission” to do so.
On 1st June Sir Arthur Davidson replied on Alexandra’s behalf: “Her Majesty has the greatest pleasure in giving permission for the Public Park in Hoole to be named after her, as it is always a pleasure to her to think that her name is associated with anything that adds to the benefit or welfare of the people. Her Majesty trusts that the new public park will prove a source of health and happiness to all the residents and children, for whose benefit and recreation it is intended”.
On Friday 23rd June 1911, Mrs. Williams, wife of Hoole Urban District Councillor William Williams, officially opened the renamed ‘Alexandra Park’.
This took place during the Hoole Coronation festivities which commenced on Thursday 22nd June to mark the Coronation of Alexandra’s son, King George V and his wife Queen Mary.
Alexandra was styled "Her Majesty Queen Alexandra" following the death of her husband King Edward VII in 1910: in 1911 she remained highly popular with the British people, as she continued the public side of her life, which had started when she became Princess of Wales. She had opened bazaars, attended concerts, and visited hospitals, often on behalf of her mother-in-law, Queen Victoria. She devoted much time to her many charitable causes.
The Lodge, bowls pavilion and conveniences (one ‘Ladies’, one 'Gentlemen’s,' both free) were completed in 1913.
Then Hoole (Alexandra Park) Bowling Club came into being.
Alexandra Park, formed by Hoole Urban District Council for the benefit and enjoyment of the people and the children of Hoole, is, arguably the ‘Jewel in the Crown’ of the District Council’s legacy to the residents of Hoole today.
Coronation Playing Field and Hoole Allotments
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.
The Hoole Allotment Colony
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. There is an access road from Hoole Lane and access from the junction of Panton Road and Canadian Avenue.
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.
The first ‘four acres plus two roods or thereabouts’ of this land, called Allotments No.1, was leased by the Council from Mr. S. Smith in February 1906. Plot rents were 17 shillings per year, which is about £90 at today’s values.
In the Council, waiting lists, tenancy agreements, rent arrears, weed control, notices to quit, and compensation became part of the business of meetings. By 1909, the Surveyor was responsible for allotments, and managing waiting and lettings lists.
Hoole Council had an interest in the land, which had been part of Hoole House Estate, and which had been used for the Royal Agricultural Show in 1893. To achieve its plans, the Council negotiated directly with the owners and leaseholders of the land which is now Hoole Allotments. Canadian Avenue was completed from Hoole Lane to Hoole Road. Hoole Public Park was extended, renamed Alexandra Park, and completed in 1913. The agent for land which remained in the Vivian Estate held twenty and a half acres, off Hoole Lane, which he would not break up into smaller parcels. Mrs. Kennedy owned the land bordering Hoole Lane, to its south, which she would not lease or sell.
Four additional acres of land were leased from C.P. Smith, heir to S. Smith on the same terms as the land for No.1 Allotment and were called No.2 Allotment.
In January 1913, an approach road, four feet wide was laid from the junction at ‘the top of Bater Avenue’ with Canadian Avenue to give access for the users of the land: cricketers, tennis players, smallholders, and allotment holders. There was disappointment all round because the entrance was supposed to be 10 feet wide. Seasonal arable farming and grazing continued on the land around.
Then, on the eve of the First World War, William Williams, builder, agreed to grant a lease on three more acres of land adjoining that of C. P. Smith, for the same rate, to be ‘pegged out’ as No.3 Allotment.
After the completion of Alexandra Park, Hoole’s Annual Horticultural Show was held there, organised by the Parks and Allotments Committee of the Council.
However, in 1916, Lloyd George was swept to power as head of a coalition government. The country was in the midst of an emerging food crisis, caused by the impact of the German blockades on supplies. Emergency measures had to be introduced to combat severe food shortages and price rises.
In 1916 a Cultivation of Lands Act was passed, so, from January 1917, Hoole Council was preparing to acquire more land for the cultivation of food and use as allotments.
Conscription had been introduced in 1916. The smooth running of local government was affected by the absence of the enlisted men, and the extra demands of the war effort and food crisis. Hoole Council was permitted to raise the salaries and pay of its workforce.
The situation in Hoole in 1917 was exacerbated by the fact that the allotment land already being used to grow potatoes was withdrawn from use in November by an inspector from the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, due to infection by Potato Wart Disease.
Local Authorities became responsible for implementing Food Control Orders. Employees undertook additional duties to help the local population provide and grow their own food, to control rations, and create emergency stocks of essential supplies, like coal. Sugar distribution and waste paper collection fell to Hoole Council.
In March 1917, the ban on Sunday working on land and allotments under Clause 9 of Allotment Tenancy Agreements had been lifted. A Sub-Committee of five members of the Council, in addition to the Parks and Allotments Committee, was appointed to manage the additional work resulting from Food Control Orders.
In September 1917, soft fruit growers were asked to apply for surplus sugar for making jams and preserves held at the Beehive Hotel. The Council closely monitored each application for bogus requests and ordered the return of any unused sugar: one ‘grower’ was reported to the Council because he did not have any fruit bushes.
From 1917, Alexandra Park and its Park Keeper (using its greenhouse) distributed the plants, prepared for growing on, to local residents. Cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts were made available at 100 plants per shilling (1s).
When two girls were caught picking flowers from the beds in the Park and some boys were caught using bad language and breaking a pane of glass in the greenhouse by throwing stones, their parents were summoned to appear before the Council. Local head teachers were issued with copies of the Council by-laws and were ordered to hold assemblies on the subject in the schools in Hoole District. Any damage was to be paid for by parents.
During the crisis of 1917, the Council gained greater powers to acquire more land, in the same area as existing allotments, under the Cultivation of Lands Order. It compiled a list of those requiring allotments, then the Smallholders’ Society was asked to release all available and suitable land to the Council for use as allotments. The Cheshire Smallholders’ Society Ltd. was operating on the land owned by Mrs. Kennedy, and some of the land owned by C.P. Smith.
From 1917, due to the urgent need to respond to the food crisis and war conditions, the amount of land used as allotments expanded. The land acquired to form Hoole Allotments as we know it today was retained for allotments and compulsorily purchased from the landowners after the war.
At the end of the war, in 1919, the Land Settlement Facilities Act was passed. The renting of allotments was to be open to all, without the requirement for training, and returning service men joined the existing waiting lists for allotments. In Hoole there was also a reawakening of interest in living standards and providing homes for the returning service men and their families.On 16th July 2017, on its Open Day, Hoole Allotments & Gardeners Association (HAGA) celebrated the centenary of the allotment colony.
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.
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.
29 April 1953: His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh opened Coronation Playing Field
History of the Playing Field
The land occupied by the Playing Field was originally a part of the Hoole House Estate and after sections of the Royal Agricultural Show were held on it in 1893, it was used for sporting activities. The Hon. Claude Hamilton Vivian who had inherited the Hamilton family estates, played for Hoole Cricket Club and in addition to providing the pitch on his land, also built a cricket pavilion complete with flagpole at the southern end of the field. We know that the flag was flown at half-mast following the death of Charles Brown (of Browns of Chester) in 1900. Interestingly when the Hoole House Estate was advertised for sale in 1896 it was suggested "being a mile in length a portion of it was admirably and peculiarly adapted and situated for a RECREATION GROUND or SPORTS CLUB in connection with which the House would make an excellent CLUBHOUSE".
Hoole Urban District Council eventually acquired the field and plans approved in 1930 included three football grounds, three tennis courts, three cricket pitches and a green for clock-golf, the tender of Messrs. E. Brassey & Sons for laying out the land being accepted. In 1931 the Council agreed that Hoole & Newton Football Club could play their home matches there. The tennis courts were built adjacent to Park Drive South and the other sports were fitted in according to season. The Chester Ladies Hockey Club Field which had been purchased by J.E.Varley in 1926 so that the Club could continue to play there was purchased by the U.D.C in 1939.
Over the years carnivals and festivals had been held on the playing field and the three schools in Hoole used it for sports activities. The first carnival appears to have been in 1924 when the Boys Brigade organised a fancy-dress parade, one third of the funds raised going to the Hoole & Newton Nursing Association. Carnivals often included horticultural shows, and parades were headed by a Carnival Queen, with her retinue on decorated floats. V.E. Day celebrations saw a large bonfire lit, and funds raised by events at that time went to the Hoole ‘Welcome Home’ Fund. Hoole's Festival of Britain Week in 1951 was based there. Motorcycle meetings were held in the late 1940s and 1950 and 1951, which probably contributed to the deterioration of the grounds.
By the 1950s the field was becoming in need of refurbishment, the tennis courts were closed, and a new changing pavilion was erected, named after William Brown who at the age of 91 had been a Councillor for 30 years and also three times Chairman of the Council – the grand old man of Hoole. The improved playing field was opened during Festival of Britain Week but the opportunity of a royal visit in 1953 could not be ignored for a much grander official opening ceremony, and the name 'Coronation Playing Field'.
The Duke's Visit
The following extracts are taken from the Cheshire Observer 2nd May 1953:
“Three minutes before the Duke was scheduled to arrive at Hoole Playing Field a roar of applause went up from the crowds along the streets, but it was only for the fire engine which had been called out to Canadian Avenue on a false alarm.”
“The next roar of applause though was the real thing, and flags waved, and voices shouted as His Royal Highness walked up the road to the new gates of the playing field. The civic party included the Lord Lieutenant and the High Sheriff of Cheshire, the Chairmen of Hoole Urban District Council and of Cheshire County Council, local dignitaries and the Chairman and Secretary of the National Playing Field Association.”
“The Duke was presented with a silver-plated key on a red and gold cushion with which to open the gates. The presentation was made by Miss K. Edmundson, the only woman member of Hoole Urban District Council. The Duke, smiling broadly, unlocked the gates and walked up the path to the pavilion.”
“God Save the Queen" was played by the Band of the Hoole Army Cadet Force and lining the route was a guard of honour from the Hoole & Newton British Legion and detachments from many organisations including the Red Cross and the Boys Brigade.”
“From the platform of the pavilion which contained nearly one hundred invited guests, Mr. T.L. Trelfa, Chairman of the U.D.C. extended to the Duke a most loyal and warm-hearted expression of welcome. "Today" he said "is unique in the history of our District in that we are for the first time receiving a visit from a member of our well-beloved royal family. It is proper in this Coronation year that we have been able to make some finishing touches to the playing field, for the Duke of Edinburgh is so deeply interested in the activities of the National Playing Fields Association.”
“The Duke replied that he was delighted to take this opportunity to open yet another field and that they had chosen the name of Hoole Coronation Playing Field. These outdoor facilities are not just important. They are essential especially for children who have not got gardens, and also for people nowadays who spend such a lot of time in offices and factories. It is immaterial whether as a result of these fields the standard of games went up or not. If it did, so much the better but if didn’t, it didn’t make any difference. This particular field has taken a certain amount of time to achieve this state, but it is the result of the combined efforts of a great many people.”
“The Council had originally bought the field and there had been grants from the Ministry of Education, the National Playing Fields Association, the Don Bradman Fund and the Taverners’ Association and they had all helped to create this field. At this point the Duke’s speech was interrupted by two dogs tearing around and around chasing each other in front of him. The Duke stopped his speech, laughed and said “Anyway they have got the right idea”.
He then moved off to declare the ‘Bituturf’ cricket pitch open, cutting the tape across it and then walked to the other end with Mr. Trelfa. As he was leaving the cricket pitch His Royal Highness paused several times and spoke informally to several people in the crowd. He called to 14 years old Anthony Readdy of 6 Park Drive “Have you ever played on here?”. The reply was in the affirmative. To James Bull of 7 Park Drive south he said “Do they come up and bump you?”. This time the response was in the negative.
A little further on the Duke asked Mr. T.H. Thomas of Flat 10 Hoole House, acting captain of the All Saints Church Boys Brigade, if any of his boys were going to the big Boys Brigade meeting to be held in London at which the Duke would be guest of honour. Mr. Thomas said not this year but last year 30 of his boys had gone to a similar event. “God Bless the Duke” called a voice in the crowd and he walked across to have a word with Mrs. Catherine Smith, shaking by the hand and congratulating her on reaching a fine old age.
Hundreds of boys and girls, ignoring formality, surged around the Duke who appeared to enjoy the experience. It was with the utmost difficulty that he made his way through the cheering crowd. As he was leaving the Duke spoke to the Drum Major of the Army Cadet Force Band, Ralph Earlam, and spotted that the insignia on his sash had been changed from GviR to EiiR and asked “Have you been cheating” “Yes Sir” came the hesitant reply.
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 (demolished in 2021) 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.
The Duke's Itinerary
The opening of the playing field was part of a six-hour tour, the Duke arriving at Hawarden RAF Airport, visiting John Summers Hawarden Bridge Steelworks, and then naming Chester Sea Cadets new training ship “DEVA”.
The Nation's loss
From these original reports it is clear that the Duke’s ability to be interested in people and to make appropriate comments and astute remarks which have been widely reported during tributes to him, and which have brought about the Nation's highest regard, were evident in Hoole on that day, 68 years ago.
Chester City Council registered the Title Plan to the land at the Land Registry in 1999. It shows the Pavilion and the original footpaths of Coronation Playing Field.
The gateposts to the playing field still carry commemorative plaques.
The Game of Bowls
Bowling has been a popular pastime for centuries and in April 1842 the landlord of the Ermine and Railway Hotel in Flookersbrook was pleased to announce “the addition of a splendid bowling green”.
Another pub in Brook Street was actually called ‘The Bowling Green’, its address being given as Flookersbrook, by which name that area was also then known.
There were originally two bowling clubs in Hoole. The Hoole and Newton Bowling Club which had a private green in Vicarage Road, and the Hoole Alexandra Park Bowling Club which used the public greens provided in Hoole Alexandra Park.
Hoole and Newton Bowling Club
This seems to have been a private club with its own green on the east side of Vicarage Road between Nos.4 and 6. The green is not marked as such on O.S. maps but the vacant land shown between the houses make it easy to identify. The earliest record of the Club dates from July 1910 when Mr. Samuel Davies aged 66 of Fairfield, Kilmorey Park collapsed suddenly while playing there. He was taken to Mr. T.W. Chalton’s house at No.3 Vicarage Road where brandy was administered. Dr. Butt was called but to no avail.
The Club had strong links with the Freemasons and for many years dinners were held in conjunction with the Deeside and the Tattenhall Bowling Clubs. Prominent citizens such as R. Cecil Smith (Hoole Volunteer Fire Brigade and Mayor of Chester), Chas Jones (Agricultural Machinery Merchant at Cowlane Bridge), William Kearton (Guardian of the Workhouse) were associated with the Club which appears to have been a men only organisation. The land it occupied in Vicarage Road was sold for housing in 1974.
Hoole Alexandra Park Bowling Club
The bowling greens installed in Hoole Alexandra Park in 1913 by the Urban District Council were intended for public use, bowls being available for hire from the Bowl House which also later serviced the tennis courts, and the putting green which opened in 1933 next to them. The Bowl House was enhanced by the provision of a drinking fountain provided by William Williams, a prominent local builder and one time Chairman of the Council. The history of the Park can be read above.
Cups and Trophies
The Hoole Alexandra Park Bowling Club was formed as soon as the greens were open in 1913 and had an initial membership of 40. Its President for the first 3 years was W. Mills who was also Chairman of the Urban District Council. In 1914 the Club asked the Council for a reduction in fees for its members which was refused "there should be no concessions, since the facility had been paid for by all ratepayers of the District".
Teams were formed and competitions held and by 1934 there were 128 members.
Dr. Butt gave impetus to the Club when he presented a cup for competition amongst members. Dr. Butt was the Council’s Medical Officer of Health. He was a keen sportsman who played cricket for Hoole and he was also the Team Doctor for Chester Football Club.
Edward Paul gave a cup to enable money to be raised for the Hoole & Newton Nursing Association.
Sir Owen Phillips M.P. for Chester between 1916 and 1922 presented a cup in aid of the Chester Infirmary.
Maurice Sharp also donated a trophy which raised money for the Chester & District Blind Society.
By 1945 there were also the William Brown Championship cup, a Jubilee Challenge cup, the Crosland Taylor cup and a Merit Medal for each season.
Edmund H. Dawson also presented a cup to be competed for by members of the Hoole Veterans Association whose hut was adjacent to the greens.
In more recent years other trophies have been bowled for: the Ernie Evans Cup, the Bernard Payne Shield, the May Kenney Cup and the Frank Wilding Trophy.The Presidents’ Honours Board
The Board was presented to the Club in 1948 by Edmund H. Dawson and his wife to mark their golden wedding in the previous year. A well-known newsagent in Hoole, Edmund Dawson was a member and one time Chairman of the Urban District Council and President of the Bowling Club in 1924.
Charity Work and Civic Pride
Over the years teams have taken part in the different leagues which have operated in the Chester area. Many of the Club’s events have raised a significant amount of money for local charities and the Club continues to dominate the greens today. Sadly the pride and effort which went into providing the facilities 100 years earlier were not sustained and neglect by successive members and officials of the local authority meant that by the 2020s the Pavilion, as it became known, and the toilets were in a disgraceful state.
The Ladies Section
The Hoole Alexandra Park Bowling Club had always welcomed lady members from the start, a Miss Barton who died in 1940 was “a member since its formation”. In 1934 there were 25 lady members, Mrs. R.H. Pryce was a member of the otherwise male committee and went on to be President in 1941; other lady members were also to become Presidents. In 1943 Mrs. E.G.M. Kenney was the first lady to win the Club’s championship. The Club set up a dedicated ladies’ section and although it continues today as a mixed organisation, in 1947 a new separate ladies bowling club was formed.
Hoole Ladies Bowling Club
During the 2020 Covid 19 lockdown the Secretary of Hoole Ladies Bowling Club, Jane Branson was able to use the minute books and secretaries’ reports of the Club to provide a detailed history of its formation and activities.
Hoole Carpet Bowling Club
The Club was formed in 1902, games being played in a small pavilion attached to the house of its first president, Robert Wallace of “Emrys” in Kilmorey Park. He was a draper with premises at 92 Northgate Street and several of the earliest members were also in the tailoring trade including the Becks and the Todds who both ran shops in Hoole. When the original club room became inadequate accommodation was found first in the Newgate Street Presbyterian Church schoolroom (Robert Wallace was a prominent layman there), the Westminster Hotel stockroom, the Temperance Hall in George Street and then The Elms Pavilion which was the corrugated iron meeting room behind the Council Offices on Hoole Road.
Matches were played against other clubs e.g. Warrington and Liverpool and from the 1950s trophies played for included the Magnus Clark Rosebowl Competition (Magnus Clark was a Chemist in Charles Street) and the Elsie Oates Trophy (wife of Harry Oates who ran a garage business in Westminster Road where Rowena Court now stands). There was a Ladies Section and a fixture card from 1977/8 contains many old Hoole names which may jog a few memories. Following the demolition of The Elms Pavilion the Club played at All Saints Church Hall. Like all the bowling clubs in Hoole the Carpet Bowling Club has given support to many charitable causes.
The Royal Agricultural Show, Hoole 1893
The Royal Agricultural Show in Hoole was held from 17 – 23 June 1893, the biggest event that has ever taken place in Hoole.
Fishing for Information
A local resident has asked the Society if it can provide any information about a Cup that he has in his possession. The trophy is inscribed “Hoole Angling Society” and the list of its recipients dates from 1914 to 1938. No records can be found of the Angling Society and a scan of newspapers has revealed no information either.
One would expect that the Society would have had regular meetings, at least annually, to award the trophy and there must have been officials to organised fishing matches and collect subscription fees. One of Hoole’s pubs was their likely meeting place; old Hooligans remember that ‘The Ermine’, ‘The Bromfield’ and ‘The Faulkner’ had angling clubs in the period after the Second World War, but no link has been found to an “Hoole Angling Society”.
In the middle of the twentieth century, it was claimed that angling was the most popular participative sport, and a survey as recent as 2014 confirmed that this may still be the case. Findings were based on the number of fishing rod licences sold and an estimate based on the numbers caught fishing without one. Before the days of social media, lots of boys were taken fishing by their fathers or grandfathers for the first time (and perhaps the last time if nothing was caught), and local fishing spots included:
- The Shropshire Union Canal.
- The River Gowy at Mickle Trafford and Guilden Sutton.
- The River Dee at The Meadows, Farndon and Sealand.
- Flooded Brickworks’ Pits in Hoole Village, one on The Street near Hoole Bank, the other between the Royal Oak (now Toby Carvery) and Old Hoole Hall Farm.
- Flooded Clay Pit at Cotton Edmunds.
- Large ponds off Long Lane in the Plas Newton area.
One place where fishing was not allowed was Flookersbrook. Byelaws approved in October 1876 under the Flookersbrook Improvement Act stated that it was an offence to “fish with net or rod or in any other way interfere with the fish or water fowl”.
Boys who caught the bug were often seen with fishing rods improvised from garden canes and jam jars full of worms dug from the garden. For those who could afford it, fishing tackle was sold at Henry Monk (Gunmaker) at 77 Foregate Street, still operating after 160 years in Queen Street. Martin’s was also another tackle shop in Lower Bridge Street where there were queues early on Saturday and Sunday mornings for the live maggots sold there. In the 1960’s, George Boddy sold fishing gear from his ‘fireplace’ shop at 143 Westminster Road. For a short time more recently, Hoole Angling Centre moved from premises on the corner of Lightfoot Street to a shop next to The Beehive on Hoole Road.
During 25 years of competition, 11 different names appeared on the shields of the Cup, two people actually winning it five times.
The Society has been able to identify the first winner in 1914 as William Holyoak who lived at 22 Walker Street and is listed in the 1911 Census as a ‘Master Cyclemaker’. He had premises at 45 Lower Bridge Street where Directories also show him as a cycle agent and repairer. He died in 1945 aged 73, but his wife was still living in Walker Street in 1952.
Some of the other winners have well known Hoole family surnames and the society is hopeful that readers will be able to identify them, and perhaps through existing family connections learn more about them and Hoole Angling Society. It is a sobering thought that the Cup was first competed for in 1914 – the year of the outbreak of the First World War and the last award was made in 1938, the year before the Second World War began.
If you know anything about Hoole Angling Society and its members, recognise any of the names listed or know of any other information about fishing in Hoole and Newton, the Society would be pleased to hear from you.
Chas. Sumner talked to Hoole History & Heritage Society about Chester Football Club’s early years. The club was formed in 1885 when Chester Rovers and Old King’s Scholars amalgamated at Faulkner Street, where Chester Rovers had played in 1884. House building caused a move to ‘the Old Showground’ in 1898, to land which had been used for the Royal Agricultural Show in 1893, but further house building in this part of Hoole resulted in Chester Football Club becoming homeless for two years after one season. The team played in Whipcord Lane, when it re-emerged. Eventually moving to the Sealand Road ground, its home until 1990.
Over the years, Chester F.C. has drawn upon a loyal following from Hoole. ‘Making the grade’ as a footballer and playing for ‘The Blues’ has been an ambition of many boys from Hoole as they kicked balls, cans, even stones, about with their friends.
‘Hoole boys’ who played for Chester F.C. in the past
John ‘Basher’ Evans
In 2010, during the celebration of 125 Years of “The Blues”, one of ‘the City Legends’, Chester F.C. players invited to relive yesteryear, was John “Basher” Evans, from Hoole. Working his way up through the junior ranks of Chester Football, at the age of 18, in 1961, he became a part-time professional, and turned full time professional at 21. At this time, playing conditions, using heavy footballs, often on muddy or wet pitches, meant that strength was essential for success in the game. Always “Basher” to the crowd, possibly due to his robust playing style, John made 44 First Team appearances for Chester F.C. under four managers: John Harris, Stan Pearson, Bill Lambton, and Peter Hauser.
John grew up at 33 William Street with his parents and sister, so he played out around William Street entry and Barrows entry. He went to Westminster Road Infant School, then to All Saints Juniors in School Street.
School days took him past the Co-op in Walker Street, so John remembers the shop in 1950s, staff in white uniforms, and the sale of ‘broken biscuits’ and bacon bones. However, he also remembers the eight double decker buses which lined up outside the Co-op to take Hoole football supporters to the match. As a newspaper boy at ‘Docca Dawson’s’, he remembers both Sid Dawson Junior and Senior. Anyone falling short was told to “Sling ya hook”. Fish and chips came from Jimmy Rileys, on the opposite side of Faulkner Street - Jimmy sported a dicky bow and was well known for his banter at the counter. ‘Gossie’s’ (The Faulkner) and ‘The Brom’ (The Bromfield Arms) were the rival locals.
Growing up, John joined the Boys Brigade, the band with its distinctive big bass drum and bugle and Ken Harris organising. John was a keen footballer, he played for the Boys Brigade Football Club.
Bible classes were on Sunday mornings at the Mission Room, Westminster Road, when John looked forward to visiting Lewis’s Ice-Cream Parlour for a ‘sixpence ha’ penny special’ (scoops of ice-cream in lemonade soda) afterwards. At All Saints’, aged 9, he played ‘two years up’ in the Under-11s, qualifying because he could kick with his left foot. He was given sixpence whenever the team won. Following reorganisation of schools in Hoole in 1954, John moved to Chester College School site to complete his education at All Saints. John played for Hoole Juniors representing them in the CASA League Select 11 Under-18s in Ireland in 1957. He played for All Saints Under-15s, again, two years up, as well as the College, and Chester School Boys, who played in the Semi-final of the School Boys’ League at Swansea in front of a crowd of 7,500.
When John made his debut for Chester F.C. in 1961, the reporter for the Chester Chronicle described him as ‘the Hoole boy who works as an electrician when not playing football’ The fact that John became a qualified electrician and went on to have a very successful second career after leaving football with Chester F.C. was, John Evans believes, due to the thoughtfulness of John Harris, his first manager at the club. Employment was high and boys leaving school readily found work, but, in comparison with today’s earnings, those in football were then quite modest. John Harris thought it was important to get players into work, so he gave John Evans a letter of introduction for Mr. John Neild and his son David, of Thomas Wood and Co. The company needed a trainee electrician, and John was given a job. Another player from Hoole who signed up for Chester at the same time as John was Freddie Field. The contract they signed was to play for Chester Football Club Limited in the Football League and Cheshire County Football League. The rate of pay was £6 per week, with an additional £3 per week when playing for the First Team. A bonus was paid when the team won.
“Basher” made his debut for “The Blues” against Aldershot, in front of 2,775 spectators on Boxing Day 1961. He received lots of congratulations ahead of the match, but only one telegram, from former manager, Stan Pearson, wishing him ‘Good Luck’. The Chester Chronicle described Chester F.C. approaching the game “with zest”; John gave a good performance defending against Taylor “a clever winger”, but Aldershot won 3-2. John’s football career at Chester took off from then, however, and led to 44 First Team appearances, played at fullback.
Unfortunately, in March 1964, when Chester F.C. was playing in the Fourth Division, pushing to get into the promotion top four in the League, during the game at Gillingham, John ‘took a hefty kick to the back as he charged between two players’. Substitutions were not permitted in those days, so John moved to the wing. The nature of his injury was not realised at the time.
Twenty minutes later, he had to be taken off. A hospital x-ray found two fractured bones to the side of his spinal cord. He was ordered to stay in bed with a plank under his back.
How far John might have gone as a professional footballer can never be known. This very serious injury put John out of football for the rest of the season. Recovery and treatment following it did bring John’s much-loved career in League Football to a close.
So, John’s second career as an electrician opened up; it included three decades of involvement at the Grosvenor Estate. John has many letters expressing appreciation for his hard work dedication and commitment from members of the family and estate staff. He was also a guest at the Memorial Service for Gerald Grosvenor held at Chester Cathedral.
Looking back over his working life, John describes it as ‘A Game of Two Halves’
Thomas Carline and Chester Football Club just before the First World War
Before the First World War Chester Football Club played in the Combination League, of which it was a founder member in 1890. On the pitch, Chester had been very successful in the Combination, finishing runners-up for five consecutive seasons, before finally winning the title in the 1909. However, in 1910, the club elected to move to the Lancashire Combination, a league that offered a higher standard of football, and after promotion, in the first season, settled in mid-table in Division 1.
Thomas Carline lived in Hamilton Street, Hoole, for over 10 years. He later moved to Backford. After school, he worked for Lever Bros at its office in the Liver Building, Liverpool.
Chas. Sumner found the first mention of Thomas with Chester F.C. in January 1913, playing for the reserves in the West Cheshire League. He played 23 league games in goal for the club before the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. On 22nd January 1913, he played for the first team in a Cheshire Senior Cup tie against Crewe, during which he saved a penalty and was reported to have played a fine game. Three days later, he represented the club in a Welsh Cup match against a South Wales village team, Troedyrhiw. Thomas replaced regular goalkeeper James Fletcher, a former Carlisle and Exeter player, for the next match, after Chester was heavily beaten 6-1 by Walkden Central in March. He had a sound League debut against Chorley, despite a narrow defeat, and, after featuring in the next four games, he was one of only four players retained for the 1913/14 season.
Thomas started the campaign as first choice goalkeeper in 1913 and played in every game up to the end of 1913. It wasn't all plain sailing, since he was reported to have scored an own goal in a 4-0 defeat at Barrow in September. In a Welsh Cup tie against Swansea in January 1914, however, he had a good game and, after the Swans had hit the post with a penalty, he made a wonderful save from the rebound.
The Swansea game seemed to mark a turning point for Thomas.
A few days after this game, he was at fault for one of the goals in a Cheshire Senior Cup tie at Macclesfield. He lost his place in the team having missed the league game at Walkden Central through illness the following week. By the end of February 1914 it was mentioned that he did not appear to have recovered his previous good form. In a disappointing performance by the whole team, Thomas was beaten by two goals he should have saved when played his last game in goal in a 2-2 draw with Chorley on February 14th. At the end of February he featured in a 3-1 defeat at Heywood United, which was the last mention of Thomas at the football club.
Thomas Carline and the First World War
There is more to be learned about Thomas Carline (CARLINE T) during the years of the First World War, and this is being looked into by Dave Rees from Hoole History & Heritage Society. His connection with Chester Football Club came from the study of the names listed on the Hoole War Memorial on Hoole Road, and Hoole Rolls of Honour.
Dave Rees has provided the following record to date, and the details of his place of work at Lever Bros. Liverpool.
On 4th September 1914 Thomas enlisted in the 18th Battalion King’s (Liverpool) Regiment, one of the “Liverpool Pals” Battalions. He was promoted to sergeant before he arrived in France on the 7th of November 1915. He was twice wounded in action, transferring to the 12th Battalion in October 1917. Thomas then returned home to undertake officer training and he married.
Following training, he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant and returned to the Front. At the Front, he was attached to the 15th Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers. Thomas was killed in action on 30th September 1918.
After the war, his name was listed on the Hoole War Memorial, to be honoured and remembered along with others from Hoole who had given their lives during the war.
- Article researched and written by Linda Webb, June 2018, Hoole History & Heritage Society
- Article researched and written by Linda Webb, July 2021, Hoole History & Heritage Society
- Article by Linda Webb, some parts of which were initially published in ‘Hoole Roundabout’ in January 2016 - http://www.hooleroundabout.com
- The photograph is one of a set given to Hoole History and Heritage Society by Mr Martin Williams, whose full name is Mr Martin Prescott Williams. He is the grandson of William Williams and Louise (nee Prescott) Williams
- Article researched and written by Linda Webb, March 2020, Hoole History & Heritage Society
- Article contributed by Jane Branson, Secretary of the Hoole Ladies Bowling Club, January 2021
- Copyright Jeff Buck re-used under the Creative Commons Licence
- Article researched and written by Ralph Earlam and Linda Webb, February 2018, Hoole History & Heritage Society
- Chas Sumner has given permission for research which he has undertaken to be used as part of this article
- John Evans, a member of the society, shared his reminiscences, photographs and memorabilia with Hoole History & Heritage Society members and visitors and has given permission to reproduce items for this article. He is currently raising funds for a shelter against the elements to be built at Chester’s ground for wheelchair users and others to use whilst watching matches.
- Article researched and written by Linda Webb, May 2017, Hoole History & Heritage Society
- Dave Rees for providing Thomas Carline's record of Military Service for this article
- Photograph of the Memorial provided from set taken by Linda Webb