Chatham - Recreation Ground

New Road : ME1 1DZ
The Chatham Recreation Ground was situated at the back of Fort Pitt on New Road. The grounds were rented from the War Department by the City of Rochester in 1871 at a rent of £56/annum.

The Rochester & Chatham Journal of June 23rd 1883 carried an advertisement for Foresters' Great Day! athletic sports to be held on Chatham Recreation Ground on Thursday June 28th. The athletic sports were to include a "Grand Bicycle Contest, foot races, tug of war, archery contest, monster dancing rings and fireworks." The sports were a great success and 10,000 spectators saw a two miles amateur bicycle handicap race and a one mile handicap open to members of the Foresters order.

There was a two miles amateur handicap race at the Recreation Grounds on June 23rd 1884. The Kent and Sussex Labourers' Union held their athletic sports at the ground on July 12th 1886, with a crowd of 4,000 people. There were two bicycle handicap races over one and two miles.

The Comical Fellows held their 2nd Annual Fete at the ground on May 24th 1887 with a two miles amateur open bicycle race and a one mile handicap for members of Mid-Kent Bicycle Club. The handicapper was ‘Mr J Bailey, fifty miles champion of the world.' (presumably Bill Bailey). Their Fete was held again at the grounds in 1888. This was probably the last bicycle race meeting at Chatham Recreation Ground.

At the AGM of the Chatham Cycling Club February 21st 1894 it was "pointed out the club did not intend to hold another race meeting until they had a proper ground (so many accidents having occurred at the Chatham ground)." The club subsequently held its race meetings at the Bat and Ball, Gravesend, Chatham football ground and Maidstone Athletic Ground.

The City of Rochester purchased the grounds in 1914 from the War Office, to be held as recreation grounds. The area known as Jackson's Recreation Ground opened in 1914. During WWII the grounds were used for defensive works but were reinstated after the war. The grounds are now owned by Medway Council.


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