OHMG – The Story – Part 1

Eastington Community Centre and Owen Harris Memorial Ground

We are very lucky in the Eastington Community to have the great facilities at the Owen Harris Memorial Ground with the Community Centre, wonderful public field and play park areas. All thanks are due to many, many local people who over decades have worked tirelessly as volunteers and either donated or contributed to the recreational area that we enjoy today.

How did we get there? Well apart from hard work, blood, sweat and tears much of it has been down to generosity of spirit and ‘who you know’ not to mention a lot of luck and coincidence.

The eight acre field was bequeathed to the people of Eastington in 1989 by Mrs Shirley Harris, the widow of local Farmer Owen Harris. It was Owen Harris’ express wish that the land be used for the purpose of ‘a playing field, recreation ground and community social centre’ for the benefit of Eastington residents.

Historically the field had been used for agricultural purposes and was called the Pies and Packers field.
The entrance to the field, Snakey Lane, which in bygone times was the old road through Alkerton to the Bristol road (A38), had become redundant so the first job was to clear it of trees and give proper field access.

As luck would have it a local resident was involved with improvement works on the M5 at the time and was able to provide numerous (about 40) lorry loads of free aggregate waste that were used to make the lane more substantive and a car parking area. What a gift but imagine shifting that lot – phew!
Field works also commenced in order make the land suitable for a playing field. A local firm laid the drainage and the ground was ploughed with a wheat crop sown. This clever strategy enabled the land to be cleared of deep rooted weeds and the sale of the wheat provided the money for the field grass seed.

The local Cricketers were very keen to have a village site on which to play and successfully applied for a grant in order to set up the Cricket square, probably it’s the original square that is there today.
Everyone agreed that a building of some sort was required in order to provide for the sports players and also to have a room that could be hired for income which was desperately needed for improvements.

Just by chance one of the Committee members met someone selling decommissioned Government buildings. This resulted in the purchase of a terrapin that had formally been a ‘Training Induction Centre’ at Heysham Nuclear Power Station in Morecambe, Lancashire. The Terrapin consisted of a small kitchen, toilets, showers and a meeting room so was perfect. However the logistics of getting this building to site seemed insurmountable, unless you knew of a local firm that provided cranes and a local haulage company. Luckily, once again, the Eastington folks had some contacts.

The Pavilion was craned onto the 3+ haulage trucks to bring it all that way back from Morecambe where it was craned into position on the ground that had been prepared for it with drains, water and electricity, all achieved by volunteers.

So in 1994 the OHMG site had its first Community Centre! Was it all plain sailing up to this point or following this? Of course not, but what an amazing achievement.

More of the story to come next time ….

Contacts are:
Gill Glover: Centre Manager: 01453 828782
Mark Cousins: 01453 828557
Martin Elliott: 01453 838712

Owen Harris Memorial Ground Charity
Registered Charity Number 1013643