The Rec a green area of land for leisure and recreation is surrounded by the Towcester Rd, Delapre Crescent Rd, Pleydell Rd and Queen Eleanor Rd.
It is understood that the land was given by the Bouveries (of Delapre Abbey) in 1912 for the purpose of leisure and recreation. Tony’s dad helped to level it?
When Kath Hollowell was little, her mum used to put her in a brightly coloured cardigan, take her onto the Rec and let her loose there to play.
The Rec at one time had iron railings around its perimeter with entrances in Pleydell Rd and Towcester Rd. These were removed for the war effort. During the war there was an underground air raid shelter level with Queen Eleanor Rd, this was used by the locals when needed. The Victory celebrations were also organised on the Rec but the weather meant the fancy dress etc had to retreat to the school hall.
There was a static water tank situated on the corner of Pleydell Rd and Delapre Crescent Rd. The old mans hut was home to many and was wheelbarrows, plants, outings and funerals are memories that stem from this building.There was a police box on the corner of Queen Eleanor Rd & Pleydell Rd where the local bobby could put his feet up and make a cuppa ( like the one near Ashfords corner).
The Nursery was Towcester Rd side and was open in the early 1940’s, the beds for the children were set out in rows outside. Blankets stitched with special markings told you where they belonged. This building later became changing rooms for sports and part of it was taken over by the green keepers and grounds men to keep their kit in.
We had tennis courts, grass ones and tarmac ones. The grass ones are long gone and the remnants of the tarmac ones can still be seen, there is a small basketball/football pitch on one of them, the other has no specific purpose. The grass tennis courts were hired out by the Towcester Rd Methodist Church Youth Club on Thursday evenings. The bowls green remains and has had many types of fences around it as well as entrances. The old brick built toilets were half way up the Towcester Rd side of the Rec and accessed from the path or from the Rec itself. During the war these were used by the Yanks for their toilet stop.
Our Rec had a play area which has changed over the years. There once was a sand pit, which of course attracted the local dogs. We had a maypole and a jazza Gwen can remember going up and up and never feeling as if she went down. There was the ‘big’slide, some of us remember using candle wax on it to make it go faster. Not only could you could slide down it on your own, but you could make a ‘train’ sometimes up to 5 people would slide down together. There was the old wooden roundabout and the spider’s web, All of these have gone and less adventurous playground equipment stands. However the ‘baby’ slide remains.
The Rec is edged with trees, limes, horse chestnut and oak. There were two majestic oaks, one in Pleydell Rd and the other by the tennis courts (Delapre Crescent Rd). The latter tree had a seat that went all the way round it. This tree was destroyed by natural forces in the early ‘00’s’ and only its stump remains. Conkering was and still is a favourite pass time of the youngsters.
Sport features a lot on our ‘Rec’, football clubs continue to play their league games, the bowls green sees regular games not only from the Delapre Bowls league but by local groups from the community. During 1951 – 1955 rugby was played along the stretch of land next to Delapre Crescent Rd and led by a Mr Alserbrook. The Saints presented 2 strips in 1948 we believe. Cricket was a regular on Sunday, with tea and sandwiches. Unfortunately cricket is no more it ceased to be in 1999.
The Rec has been used by local schools for its PE lessons and sports days.
Stories from the past tell us that we had our own ‘Jack the Ripper’ who wandered Far Cotton Rec at the Pleydell Rd end. Horace, a local used to wear a newspaper bag over his shoulder and with a litter stick, picked up the rubbish. We also hear about how Drover’s cattle broke way and came across the Rec, this frightened one of our group, in fact he said he was ‘terrified’. Talking of animals, we hear that Newton Pratt used to operate pony rides in the late 1940’s along Queen Eleanor Rd (where the school now stands).
Playschemes were set up in the old nursery during the holidays to cater for the local children, these were always fun and enjoyed by all. Today, sports are organised via the council and local community centres to occupy our youngsters and these still operate on the Rec.
Youth organisations e.g. BB, GB, Scouts and Guides use the Rec for their programmes, especially in the Summer. It’s great to see the Rec being used for what it was set up for. Recently in 2005, local churches got together and shared worship near to the pavilion (now demolished) this was called Praise in the Park. Community events have taken place on the Rec we believe this happened for 3 years and was within the last 20 years. Our memories fail us when it comes to dates. The Rec has also seen many a sponsored walk around it, both forwards and backwards, this type of event has helped many over the years. In recent years we have seen hot air balloons land during the town’s balloon festival.
Well I thought I’d save the best till last ‘The Pavilion’. It was made of wood which meant you were able to carve your name in it together with any message for your loved one. The front of the pavilion looked out onto the bowling green and originally had a veranda, one half of the building you could hire your shoes and woods for a game of bowls, the other you could get a cup of tea. Around the back was open, there was a wooden seat which meant courting couples could enjoy each others company relatively hidden. I won’t go into the stories, just use your imagination. Over the years though the wooden seats were vandalised and removed so when some of us got to ‘go courting’ we had to make do with the floor or the steps on the other side by the bowling green. Memories tell us of the time you could buy your choc ice, or lolly from the stable door on the side of the pavilion, you could then sit by the rose bushes at the Towcester Rd entrance to enjoy them. Many a time has a picnic been shared by us. Memories tell us that one of our group with his sister made toffee apples to sell and when ask where people could buy them from he told them ‘from the pavilion’ I bet they loved him for that. This pavilion was demolished to make way for a brick built one, with proper changing rooms in again dates mystify us. This was demolished in April 2006 to make way for our future. A new community centre, with library, doctors and possibly somewhere to have a tea or coffee. Wouldn’t that be grand, just like old times