In 1993 Barton Hill Rugby Club decided it needed more say on the land it was playing on. The Club has been playing on the site since 1978. Bart’s started building its Club house in 1981. The rugby club was founded in 1908 and originated in the Barton Hill area. It was felt that we needed more say in the condition and running of the field. It was in a very poor state. The pitches were in such a poor condition that club was a ‘laughing stock’ with other clubs. No one wanted to play on the field. The pitches at times were believed to be a health hazard as they smelt awful and had rubble and nails etc appearing in very wet weather.
Something needed to be done. The club believed that the only way was to try and purchase the land or have a very long lease on it.
Negotiations started to take place with the City Council in 1993. It took several years with heavy negotiation and lobbying to even get the council to even consider the proposition. In 1999 the Council started to consider a 99 year lease at a peppercorn rent. This lease very nearly came about until the eleventh hour when the council, much to the club’s dismay, changed its mind and withdrew the offer.
There was then talk about the land being handed the ‘National Playing Fields Association’ (NPFA). The NPFA would then allow a Trust to be created with a constitution agreed with the Charities Commission. After several more years and much debate and anguish in the negotiations it was agreed for the land to be transferred. This was completed in 2003 and a management committee was put in place made up of the Council and the Club to run the field while a constitution and a Trust was put into place.
The Club worked really hard in writing the constitution which was acceptable to the Council, the NPFA and the Club. This was agreed and sent to the Charity Commission for them to agree it was acceptable. After some rewriting it was agreed. After much negotiation about finances etc it was finally agreed and in 2005 the lease with the NPFA was signed.