A NEW PAVILION
1965 - 1971
.... AND AFTER
By the mid-60s the club pavilion which had been in use for over seventy years was now showing its age. Rather than spend on some restoration work the club began to look into the possibility of financing a new building. Club Chairman Norman Thorpe along with officials Harold Torkington and Tom Hobson in 1965 visited Southport Cricket Club to view their new pavilion and to discover how they had gone about funding it. With this information the Ashton club had many meetings to discuss funding of the project.
However, it was not until 1969 that their proposals began to take shape for a new building to be erected at a total cost of £20,000. Committee member Eric Wright, an ex-player and an architect was asked to prepare a sketch design for approval. The committee wanted to herald a new start by incorporating facilities for a social life as well as a sporting one. With his sketch design approved, working drawings and specifications were prepared and sent out to tender. Roland Bardsley’s tender of £14,400 was accepted with a starting date of November 2nd 1970 and a completion date of July 2nd 1971 agreed. An extra £5,000 was then required to cover the cost of the interior décor, furniture and bar.
To finance the scheme most of the early money was raised from grants and loans. The Ministry of Housing and Local Government provided a grant of £4,676. A loan of £2,000 was received from the Ashton Council (at 8% to be repaid over a 15 year period). Personal loans were received from members and non-members totalling £2,400. Lancashire Playing Fields Association gave a grant of £650. The Lord’s Taveners Fund provided a grant of £400 which at the time stated to be the largest grant ever given to a provincial club. It was also the first given to a club whose interest went beyond the game of cricket. Special efforts by the club including a barbecue with dancing to a steel band raised £1,150 and further donations amounted to £947. Members and guests joined together for a ‘Farewell to the old pavilion night’ which was held in October, when to many it was like saying goodbye to an old friend.
Just under twelve months later, on September 10th 1971 many of these same people were amongst the 250 guests who gathered to celebrate the opening of the new pavilion. Mr Cedric Rhodes the Lancashire County Cricket Club Chairman was invited to officially open the building. Amongst others present were Ashton’s, Deputy Mayor Alderman E. Jones along with representatives from many sporting organisations and also a number of past and present day cricketers.
Chairman of the Ashton Cricket Club Mr Harold Powell introduced Mr Rhodes who speaking to the gathering said, “It was the true essence of cricket that as chairman of the county club, I could be at Lords the headquarters of cricket one week, and at Ashton the next”. He added, “that every county should understand that the first-class game was not the be all and end all of cricket, but unfortunately some of the game’s administers thought it was. “It might be the end product but if there was no cricket in the leagues, clubs and schools, there would not be any first-class cricket”.