During the 1920’s a Swanage team was formed which played on Saturday afternoons on the school playing field. In 1927 an approach was made by the committee of this team to Mr James Day requesting the use of one of the fields of his farm as a cricket ground. The reply was characteristic ” if you can make a cricket ground out of that rough pasture in three years I will give it to you.”
The members set to work to level, drain and cut the outfield and before the close of the 1927 season a game was played on a matting wicket against Blandford C.C. The following year a proper square was laid and a pavilion erected from a hut previously housing chickens, and a galvanised iron enclosure constructed as a tea shed. Water and gas were connected and the club was a going concern. On February 1st 1928 Mr James Day leased the ground to the committee of the Swanage Cricket Club for the period of 999 years at a peppercorn rent with a permanent right of way to the ground from the main road.
Due to the deterioration suffered by the ground during the war years cricket was resumed in 1946 at Forres School playing fields whilst efforts were made to improve the Club’s table and overgrown outfield. Progress was slow and costly.
During the 1950’s it was becoming increasingly apparent a new pavilion was a paramount need. At the end of the decade chance played a big hand in making this more than just a ‘pipe dream’. Both Swanage cinemas had been closed and with the support of three other local associations the cricket club presented film shows in the Church Hall for two days a week throughout the summer.
In 1964 sufficient money had been earned to permit the purchase of an army hut 80′ x 22′ which was erected on the north side of the ground the following winter. Voluntary labour transformed one half of the building into a tea room and kitchen and the other half into changing rooms with shower facilities. Unfortunately a moratorium on sports grants and a general lack of funds meant that the club had to work extremely hard to keep the pavilion in good order.
Indeed, such was the effort to achieve this that many of our batting and bowling performances suffered. Something drastic needed to be done and so, inspired by President, John Burt, the committee started to raise funds in the early 1990’s to replace the “Old Hut”. Many years of fund raising eventually reaped rewards and in September 1997, after considerable help from members and friends of Swanage Cricket Club and having secured grants from “The National Lottery” and “Foundation for Sports and the Arts”, the “New Pavilion” was opened. The photo pages show various views of the old and new pavilions and the well earned celebrations of the grand opening of the new pavillion.
Although every club suffers fluctuations in its fortune Swanage Cricket Club can now boast two Saturday teams and one Sunday team plus a number of youth teams competing in the Dorset leagues. In 2012 the club’s Saturday 1st XI gained promotion to the Premier League for the first time in its history and further highlights in the past couple of seasons includes senior batsman Matt Thomas featuring in Wisden after scoring over 340 runs in a single weekend and allrounder Paul Higham gaining a cricket blue for Oxford at Lords.
The early history of the Club highlighted above is based on the recollections given in 1964 by Bob Massey, a former Chairman of Swanage Cricket Club.