- The market town of Bourne, Lincolnshire, England -
|BOURNE IS BLESSED with green spaces for relaxation and
sport. The recreation ground was opened in 1911 as part of the
celebrations for King George V and since then there has been ample
space for generations of townspeople, both young and old, to enjoy
their leisure time. The Wellhead Gardens are the perfect place for a
daily stroll in pleasurable surroundings while for the more
energetic, the Abbey Lawn that is endowed by an ancient charity,
provides facilities for a wide variety of sports for both the
beginner and the veteran.
The land originally formed part of the grounds of Bourne Abbey but the public were allowed to use it at the discretion of the vicar. There is no record of the public ever being banned from using the Abbey Lawn for this purpose and so it became the town's unofficial recreation ground and has been in use for such purposes for at least 200 years. The site is now administered by Bourne United Charities who have done much for the town by building the outdoor swimming pool and by laying out and maintaining the Abbey Lawn playing fields. The land was purchased by them in 1934 and since then there has been a continuous programme of improvement and upkeep. A plaque on the main gate says: "These grounds were purchased in the years 1931-34 by the Trustees of Bourne United Charities in order to preserve the same as an open space for ever and the work of levelling and laying out the grounds was carried out by trainees from the Ministry of Labour Instructional Centre, Bourne."
It has also become one of the most attractive cricket grounds in Lincolnshire and home to the Bourne Town Cricket Club. Their activities date from 1803 but current records only go back to 1920 and although their home matches have always been played on this ground, the facilities have become greatly enhanced under the present ownership. For some seasons past it has been the scene of Minor Counties matches as well as the extremely popular local tournament for the Hodgkinson Cup, a knockout competition for village teams with matches played midweek in the evenings with a limit of 20 overs per innings.
The tennis club, which formerly played on courts in Exeter Street, now uses the courts on the Abbey Lawn while one of the best known organisations, the Bourne Town Bowls Club, occupies land on the far corner of the site. The origins of the club date back to 1953 when it was known as the Bourne Abbey Lawn Bowling Club but has expanded over the years and their pavilion was added in 1969 after being purchased from Northorpe Cricket Club for just £30. A brick built pavilion was completed in 1977 and two years later the club changed its name to the Bourne Town Bowls Club with a total of 130 members playing there on a regular basis.
But perhaps the most popular sport to be played here is soccer and over many years, Bourne teams have generally gained a high reputation for their games. The Bourne Town Football Club was founded in 1883 and has been nicknamed "The Wakes". Their colours are claret and sky blue and their ground has a capacity of 5,000. The team is backed by an active supporter' club and has drawn Saturday afternoon crowds to the ground for many seasons past with a record attendance of over 3,000 for the F A Trophy match with Chelmsford in 1970. The team has also achieved many notable successes including the championship of the United Counties league on four occasions, in 1968-69, 1969-70, 1971-72 and 1990-91. The club has also spawned several players who have progressed to the Football League including Peter Grummit (Nottingham Forest), Shaun Cunnington (Wrexham, Grimsby and Sunderland) and David Palmer (Wrexham).
Although the official date of the football club's inception is 1883, there is evidence that a town team existed for several years before that and was even playing games on Tuesdays as well as Saturdays. A fixture list exists from the 1877-78 season detailing away matches with Stamford, Sleaford, Boston, Grantham and Spalding and it is likely that the team travelled to these games by train because by that time Bourne had become a thriving railway centre in South Lincolnshire.
Near the entrance in Abbey Road, an enclosed court has been established for petanque, a type of boules played especially in France and a sport that has gained popularity since the town became twinned with Doudeville in Normandy in October 1989.
Unfortunately, serious outbreaks of vandalism at the Abbey Lawn in recent years has forced the sports clubs in conjunction with Bourne United Charities to take firm action to deter intruders. Public appeals and even dog patrols failed and during 2009, high metal fencing was erected around the entire perimeter, much to the dismay of the public, but the drastic restrictions were seen as the only solution to prevent further acts of criminal damage. At the same time, the wrought iron gates at the Abbey Road entrance were refurbished, the stone wall rebuilt and extensive work carried out by volunteers from the Bourne Green Gym project to bring the gardens up to standard..
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