Winton Forum


Winton Recreation Ground

Winton Recreation Ground

The idea of this public recreation facility was originally raised in 1902. Two years later the Earl of Malmesbury handed over 5.75 hectares of suitable land to Bournemouth Borough Council. This was on the understanding that it would be laid out as a Public Recreation Ground to serve the growing local population. The area was cleared and the council even called in legendary New Forest snake catcher Harry "Brusher" Mills to remove undesirable wildlife.

The official opening of Winton Recreation Ground took place on Wednesday, 27th September 1906. An extract from the Bournemouth Graphic reads:

"Yesterday (26th ) was a notable day. The Earl and Countess of Malmesbury opened the new Recreation Ground at Winton, consisting of 14 acres (5.75 ha) and was generously presented by the Earl of Malmesbury. The bowling green at one corner had already been opened; there has now been laid out a cricket ground surrounding which is a very good racing track for sports, and close by is a football ground, a children's playground is to follow."

The bowling green had been officially opened on 25 July 1906. It had been a grand affair with tea taken to the accompaniment of music from the municipal orchestra. In the course of the proceedings the newly founded Richmond Park Bowling club played and lost to a team from the Corporation.

The first bowling green opens in July 1906

Plans for a Bowling Green Pavilion at Winton Recreation Ground were submitted on the 11th October 1906, with subsequent construction being undertaken in 1907. By the time it was built, the Pavilion was already too small and was extended in 1912 by another 12 ft. A new bowling green was laid out and opened in July 1935.

One of the bowling club founders went on to have a distinguished career in the game. Ernest Dean ran a gents outfitters shop at Winton Banks, but was celebrated less for the cut of his waiscoats than for his prowess on the green. He played for England throughout the 1920's, was one of the first presidents of the Richmond Park Bowling Club, and also President of both the English and Hampshire County Bowling Associations.

It was recommended in 1919 that the cricket pitch should be improved and two new tennis courts constructed, east of the existing ones. During the 1920's a new playground was laid out in its present location.

In 1922, following a deputation from the Bournemouth Football Association the number of football pitches was extended to two.

During the First World War, part of the ground was turned over to the Army for use as a firing range. During the Second World War the Rec housed shelters, A.R.P. warden posts and temporary rest centres to handle air raid victims.

Army rifle practice on Winton Rec 1914-18

In 1956, the tennis courts were re-surfaced and set out in their present locations. The playscheme building was constructed in 1980 to provide facilities for pre-school children. The football pitches were replaced with an American football pitch in the 1990's but the pitch was subsequently removed in March 1998 when the club ceased to operate.

The site includes traditional shrub planting and pine plantations providing a screening of facilities at its periphery. Following the storms of October 1987 and January 1990, much tree and shrubbery planting was undertaken with a major replanting in the 1988/9 planting season.

The site is set on two levels and surrounded on all sides by high-density housing. Being the largest area of open space for at least ½ mile (the nearest site involves crossing major roads) it is a focal point for many activities - walking, tennis, bowls, cricket and an area for children's recreation. A cycle track runs around the edge of the cricket field. The largest grass areas are dedicated to specific sports.

The cricket pavilion is approximately 90 years old and was extended in 1962 and refurbished in 1999. The welfare of Winton Rec is guarded by a group called Friends of Winton Recreation Ground. You are invited to join them

The Rec in Winter
The Rec in Winter