History of Hesketh Park
A little bit of trivia
On this day 20th April in 1904, the public opening of Hesketh Park took place.
Two years earlier, Everard Hesketh, the owner and manager of J&E Hall, and prominent local politician, offered land in Dartford for a recreation ground.
I am prepared to purchase the land, to lay it out, to fence it in with oak park fencing, and to hand it over to the Urban District Council … on the usual condition that the ground shall be maintained for ever as a public recreation ground for the inhabitants of Dartford.
For the public opening of Hesketh Park, factories closed and the town’s streets were decorated, and the afternoon was declared a town holiday.
The Green and Clubhouse
The bowling green was first sited in front of the bungalow and was a small, three rink green. By the end of 1904, the Club's membership had increased from
14 to 60. The green was enlarged to six rinks although not full sized in 1929 and the Ladies' Section was formed in 1935.
By now numerous complaints were being made to the Council concerning ''the uneven surface of the ground''. As a result, many improvements costing
£800 pounds were made.
The green was officially re-opened in ideal weather conditions on 24th April 1937 by the then Mayor, Councillor Alex Webb. The Club's oldest member
94 year old Mr George Hackman bowled the first wood on the improved green which was bedecked with pennants to honour the occasion.
It was not until May 1962, after nine months of preparation and a cost of
£2,300, that the Mayor, Councillor J.S.R. Wise bowled the Silver Jack to mark the opening of the first full sized green, sited where it is today.
The facilities of the Club have been greatly improved in recent years. This is due to the efforts and financial assistance of various members - past and present, who were only too willing to share their expertise and give freely of their time. In 1964 the Clubhouse originally known as the ''Charles Bareham Pavillion'' was opened. This building was extended in 1987 to the size it is today.
In 1992, the Council decided at very short notice, to hand the responsibility of maintaining both the green and the Clubhouse to the members.
Initially, the Bowls Club joined a consortium with Dartford Cricket Club, Crackenford Hockey Club and the Bowmen of Darentford to pool resources for the maintenance of the facilities. However, this was never really successful and in 1997, the Bowls Club decided to leave the consortium and become independent. The Club is now thriving and is managing to keep apace with the changes necessary to progress through the 21st Century.
Special thanks to all concerned. The Club owes its survival to you.
HESKETH PARK LADIES BOWLING CLUB
Although founded in 1935 Hesketh Park Ladies had played some years previously on the old bowling green in Dartford Central Park as the 3 Rink Green at Hesketh Park was too small to accommodate both the Ladies and the Men. When however the Hesketh Park Green was extended to 6 Rinks the Ladies were able to ''Come Home''. Elizabeth Hesketh became the First President of The Park Ladies and presented The Ladies Championship Cup to the Club. In 1935, Mrs Chamberlain and Mrs Van Hagen received their County Badges the first of many over the years in all disciplines in the Kent Championships.
It is indeed a great pleasure to see how the ladies have progressed from the early days of skirts four inches below the knee in those heady days of 1935 to today wearing a wide variety of skirts, trousers, no hats and even coloured shirts, we wonder what will come next? Hot Pants perhaps or even Mini Skirts. Hesketh Park Ladies have also earned an enviable reputation for the excellence of their catering and their hospitality is second to none - all are assured of a very warm welcome.
THE BOWLING GREEN. HESKETH PARK. DARTFORD