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 Clubhouse and overgrown outfield. Progress was slow and costly. Play on the ground was eventually resumed in 1948.
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. This early history of the Club is based on the recollections given in 1964 by Bob Massey, a former Chairman of Swanage Cricket Club.
After a good period in the mid-sixties, by the early seventies, playing standards had dropped. Then matters improved throughout the rest of the seventies under captain’s Ian Harris and then Roger Wilcox. Good playing standards were retained in the eighties. The rise to greater things was then nurtured by Craig Wells from the end of that decade and on through the nineties. By the middle of that decade, the team was also strengthened by incomers such as Simon Dyson and Andy Croft. Swanage had a very fine team indeed.
However, something drastic needed to be done with the “old hut” and so, inspired by President John Burt, the committee, led by Dave Puckett, started to raise funds in the early nineties to replace it. 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 built. It was opened by Pauline Johnston, wife of cricket commentator Brian Johnston who had a long connection with Swanage
As many of the great nineties side soon went elsewhere there was another time of fluctuating fortunes. Before the end of the 2000s, Ian Booth arrived from South Africa to work at Harrow House. Ian was not only a talented cricketer but also a good leader. Under him a new side of able youngsters, who had come up through the youth teams, started to develop into confident adult players. Two highlights of those years were Matt Thomas featuring in Wisden after scoring over 340 runs in a single weekend and all-rounder Paul Higham gaining a cricket blue for Oxford at Lords. Having been relegated to Division 2 a few years earlier, in 2011 they won promotion to Division 1 and followed that up in 2012 to gain promotion to the Premier League for the first time in the club’s history. It was a special year as three sides won promotion whilst the Sunday 1sts were second in Division 1. The next years were a proud time for Swanage as it held its own against the largest and the best in Dorset. Indeed in 2017, it took a defeat in the last match of the season to stop them winning the Premier League. That was as good as it got. The nucleus of that side had by now left the district and relegation to Division 1 followed.
Another important development since 2015 has been the expansion of Youth Cricket. Under the enthusiastic leadership of Tim Ives, the club now runs seven youth sides and training for girls’ cricket. By linking up with the local primaries and with other youngsters travelling from well outside Swanage to participate the youth section has grown to around 100 players. This has caused added pressure on playing and training facilities. As a result, an arrangement with Swanage Town Council and the Allnat centre has led to the old football field behind the pavilion being developed into a small cricket ground. This field will host both youth matches and those for the newly formed Swanage 3rd XI who played their first match in 2020. With planning permission already granted and fundraising well under way a pavilion extension is the next step as the club continues to grow.
Swanage Cricket Club can now boast three Saturday league teams, a Sunday eleven, and a Women’s team as well as many youth teams.