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Helmdon Historical Articles

Sixteen Years In The Planning;

The Origins Of The School Playing Field

A resumé of correspondence


In 1947 John Jessett, clerk to the parish council, wrote to the county planning officer about the provision of a playing field behind Helmdon school, and a committee to raise funding  was set up.  Nothing seems to have happened until 1948 when Mr G.M.W Lees, the chairman of the parish council, wrote that it was decided to continue with efforts to obtain a suitable field. It had been agreed that such a field should be centrally situated, and it would appear that the only fields able to fulfil the requirements would be either part of the field known as Water Leys or the two small fields known as First and Second Bell Fields. At this point the playing field committee had raised the sum of a little over £100 towards the purchase.  The county council came to visit the sites but unfortunately the owners of these fields were unwilling to sell. However, the county council reiterated that they were keen to continue to promote the provision of sports and recreation grounds and wrote to say in December 1948 that in view of the fact that there was to be a new building estate in Helmdon, it might be possible to include the necessary acreage for a playing field on this site which would make it central, and would probably reduce the cost of purchase and lay-out considerably.

All then goes quiet until 1962 when there is a press cutting to the effect that negotiations had been completed with the NCC education committee.  The county council purchased one and a quarter acres of ground adjacent to the school for the use of the school as a playing field. 


                                                    press cutting

It was rented at £10 per year and the parish council was responsible for maintenance, with an agreement that the schoolchildren use it in school hours and other children after school hours.  The parish council proposed to erect some children’s playground equipment at the top end of the field and was interested in a grant from the county council towards the costs and erection of the equipment.  So in the same year, Alan Watson, clerk to the parish council, wrote to the county council for assistance in purchasing equipment i.e. a slide, three swings and two heavy park seats, for the sum of £225 plus £45 for erection, and a grant of £100 was made by them towards the cost.

                                                   press cutting


In 1971 there were moves to purchase land on the “disused railway station” currently being used by a coal dealer for a sports field, but it came to naught.  British Rail were not prepared to negotiate the sale of the land.

Audrey Forgham

(From a folder held by the website)


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