1891/92: A New Ground and a New Pavilion

On 20 Jul 1891 Gloucester Football Club, from their address in Bell Lane, Gloucester, produced a document entitled “Proposed New Ground”, in which they proposed purchasing the Castle Grim estate as a football and general athletic ground, and forming a limited liability company for this purpose. Shares were offered at £1 each, with the objective of raising funds.

Much effort was put into the formulation of their plans for the ground and especially for the pavilion. In the meantime, for the first season a grandstand was hired to the club by the Wagon Co, GFAG minutes for 16 Sep 1861 stating: “Wagon Co had offered for £50 the hire for 6 months of a grandstand 50 yards long together with a dressing room 20ft by 8 – to be accepted if Wagon Co would accept liability in the event of accident resulting from faults in the building”.

An early undated working plan shows a rudimentary sketch of a pavilion, augmented with handwritten notes on its tentative location, as well as that for refreshment rooms, turnstyles, a flag, and “land to be let for circuses”. The ground was to include a ¼ mile running track.

A very detailed initial specification for the pavilion was drawn up but subsequently annotated with many reductions, clearly aimed at reducing costs, and it was ultimately re-issued in modified form.

GFAG minutes for the period reflect this activity:

8 Jun 1892:  tenders to be sought for building new pavilion designed by Mr Moore.

22 Jun 1892:  lowest tender for new pavilion was £500, so Mr Moore instructed to strike out any work not absolutely necessary to bring cost down to £375/400.

29 Jun 1892:  amended tenders for new pavilion were J Cheat £405 and Wm Williams £417-5-0, but Board still thought these excessive, so reductions and other tenders to be sought.

6 Jul 1892: further tenders for new pavilion were E Clutterbuck £370-10-0 and A Gyde £385; Clutterbuck’s tender accepted.

The pavilion provided covered seating for 424 spectators “all seats dry” with additional standing room on the steps. Under the pavilion were home and visiting players’ dressing rooms, showers, baths and toilets, a professionals’ room, store rooms and a spare room.

There was a separate specification for ground preparation and the contractor’s costings for this – £177-15s-0d – also survive. Various existing buildings were to be removed, with the exception of a small shed which “belongs to the Cricketers who will remove it”; all fruit trees and hedges were to be grubbed up and four large walnut trees removed; and the ground was to be levelled and turfed.

The requirement for 401 ft of fencing next to Deans Walk “including Gates 10 ft wide at end nearest Gloucester“ was carefully recorded and drawn up.

The pavilion plans were approved by the Improvement Committee, City Surveyor’s Office, Corn Exchange, Gloucester, on 9 July 1892. Certain conditions were to be met, mainly relating to strong foundations and provision of suitable drains, but it was also suggested that “the appearance of the roof could be very much improved and made more ornamental”.

During the summer of 1892, the buildings were duly removed from the centre of the site, and levelling and turfing took place so that the original pitch could be turned 90 degs, and then the new pavilion built alongside.

More GFAG minutes reflect ongoing activities:

14 Sep 1892: plan of enclosure fence with entrance gates and slope in front of pavilion was approved, fixed steps within enclosure desirable – Clutterbuck to be invited to tender.

17 Sep 1892:  Clutterbuck’s tender for £35 to erect enclosure fence was accepted.

7 Dec 1892:  Tender by Brookes Bros for flagpole of £7-15-0 accepted – to be erected on Kingsholm side of pavilion just clear of enclosure fence.

And the GFAG General Ledger records the payments to Mr. Clutterbuck:

27 Aug 1892 £100 to E Clutterbuck for pavilion (1893).

24 Sep 1892 £150 to E Clutterbuck [presumably a further payment for the pavilion].

29 Oct 1892 £150 to E Clutterbuck   [”          ”       “].

25 Feb 1893 £28-2-6 to E Clutterbuck [perhaps the final instalment for the pavilion].

22 Feb 1893 E Clutterbuck, Pavilion £428-2-6 [this is the sum of the totals above, and must therefore represent the total paid to Mr. Clutterbuck for the pavilion].

In 1921, £78-4-6 was spent on extra seating in the pavilion. In 1923, a new wooden pavilion was built on the opposite, south, side of the ground; this burnt down in 1933, and a larger replacement was built immediately, which remained until 2007. The construction of the 1933 stand allowed the 1892 pavilion to be demolished in 1934 to make way for the Shed, which was constructed across 2 years, 1934-5.

[Original copies of all of the above-mentioned documents, and many others relating to the pavilion, may be inspected at Gloucestershire Archives, reference D4335/184 “Folder of architect’s docs re Kingsholm Rugby Ground”.]

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