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Playing Fields

Before the purchase of the playing field, the only place for any type of sport played was in Tilbrook's meadow. The youngsters of the village of that time will always be indebted to the Tilbrook family for allowing this to happen. When the Football Club re-formed in 1951 matches were played on the water meadows at Tuddenham Road. In wet times football changed into water polo.

At this time Mr Jack Last, who farmed at Hall Farm, owned the "playing field". He died in 1952, followed a week later by his wife. Barton Mills Parish Council had been investigating the possibility of purchasing land suitable for a playing field at this time and this land seemed the answer.

Negotiations with the executors of the Last's estate resulted in the Parish Council purchasing the land for 400. This was paid for with a loan over 40 years. Have not times changed!

At the time of the purchase the field had been harvested - the stubble left was not the best surface to play on. The furrows you see on the field now are the result of traditional ploughing; no reversible ploughs in those days! Regular cutting of the football pitch with a small machine - a "push variety" loaned by Mr Billy Webb - resulted in a decent playing area. If two people started at 7 a.m. they would finish cutting before the afternoon kick-off. I have done this - and played in the afternoon!

At a later date the Council decided to contract out the cutting of the field, the result of which we see today. With the exception of the goal areas, the field has never been seeded.

Originally the field was surrounded by a high hedge, which was removed for safety reasons. Children playing can now been seen by motorists; before children had darted through the gaps in the hedge onto the road in front of cars.

I cannot end these few notes without paying tribute to the late Ernie Powell, whose untiring efforts in the early days of the playing field resulted in much of what we see today.

Copyright 2000: C. Peachey

A Forest Heath District Council (Suffolk) Project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Millennium Festival 2000 Designed by ArtAtac