Wellington Cricket Club finally took possession of their brand new extension to the Playing Fields’ pavilion at the weekend. The town’s Mayor, Gloria Copley, and her consort, Bill Copley, joined Club Chairman Duncan Short in celebrating the opening of the new Long Hop Bar, club house and score box with a sponsors lunch, a ‘Thank You Tea’ and a barbecue, alongside the 1st XI match against Frome in the Somerset Division of the West of England Premier League.
The refurbishment and extension of the playing fields pavilion – built in the 1950’s and increasingly unsuited to the present-day needs of sports teams and visitors – began in November last year when the cricket club vacated their bar and score box and stored their kit in a shipping container. It was initially hoped that the new pavilion would be ready for use in mid July but this proved unrealistic when work could not begin until January.
Complex funding arrangements involved a ‘106 agreement’ between Taunton Deane Borough Council and Persimmon Homes as part of the Cades Farm development but money – £229,215 – could not be made available until Persimmon Homes had agreed plans. With no funds available from TDBC, Wellington and District Sports Federation (WDSF) paid for an architect to draw designs for the refurbishment and, once funds had been released, the WDSF was reimbursed. The sport and leisure consultancy, 4George, secured a further £125,000 from Sport England.
Duncan Short paid tribute to the action of the WDSF in supporting the process but WDSF Chairman, Roger Nunn, said, “Whilst the resulting development is fine we can’t help but think that, had we been able to influence the bid process, we would have had more, better and sooner.”
Councillor Catherine Herbert, who holds the sports, parks and leisure brief at Taunton Deane Borough Council, said: “The development will provide modern facilities to enable women’s, men’s and children’s teams to use the facilities at the same time.
“Making the Pavilion fully accessible will enable the football and cricket teams to host disability league matches. The teams’ enthusiastic and dedicated spectators will have toilet facilities; a small kitchen will enable clubs to provide refreshments and generate funds for equipment and travel to away games.
“Better facilities will enable the playing pitches and tennis courts to be used more often and for a variety of matches. A social area will provide the Sports’ Federation with a base and enable sports clubs to undertake training, fundraising and social activities to support team development.”
“Work is still continuing on the changing rooms and landscaping of the site.
Report & Photos: Gill Paltridge