?Rutland Recreation Ground opened on August 20th 1884 with a fete and flower show. The 15 acre ground was provided by the Duke of Rutland and was made freely available to the people of Bakewell. After the opening ceremonies, there was a sports event, which included a one mile bicycle handicap race. The event was won by JH Pickering from Liverpool off scratch. After the sports, there was dancing to a band and a display of Brock's fireworks.
The sports were held again the following year on July 8th 1885 and there were two bicycle races. The Sheffield and Rotherham Independent reported on the meeting, with George Hunt of Wingfield winning the about one mile' race off 200 yards and H Roberts of Sheffield winning the about two miles' race off scratch. There was also a football competition, Sheffield Wednesday beating Derby County in the final.
Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887 was celebrated with a dinner on the Recreation Ground and it was proposed "That on the Jubilee Day, a dinner be given to every man residing in Bakewell above the age of 18 years be given ale, not exceeding 2 pints, or ginger beer", young men from 14 to 18 received half a pint and women and youngster had tea.
Derbyshire Times of 1st August 1891 reported that the Rutland (Bakewell) Habitation of the Primrose League* had held a fete on August 20th with athletic sports including bicycle racing. Amongst the sports was a one mile bicycle race, won by HH Timberlake of Buxton, but the race was described as a complete fraud' as only two members of the League entered the event.
The ground was used for football, cricket and tennis. Bakewell FC, which was formed in the 1890's, played there, as did Bakewell Cricket Club and Bakewell Lawn Tennis Club.
The King's Coronation was celebrated in Bakewell with sports on July 4th 1902 at the recreation ground. There was a one mile bicycle handicap race, a bicycle lemon cutting race, a variety bicycle race and a comic bicycle parade.
The Sporting Life reported on the second Bakewell FC sports on Saturday September 8th 1906, which was attended by 5,000 spectators, with 300 competitors. The four bicycle races included the NCU South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire Centre quarter mile Championship, which was won by J Gascoyne of Chesterfield. There was a total of £70 prize money and the Fairfield (Buxton) prize bank played at the event.
The football club sports were held again in the following year on August 6th 1907, with bicycle races. After the event there was a fancy cycle parade and, in the evening, "the cycles were illuminated and paraded through the town." Proceeds from the event were on behalf of the Bakewell Nurse Fund.
The Bakewell Annual Charity Sports were held again in 1908 and 1909, which was probably the last bicycle racing at the ground.
The Rutland Estate was sold in 1920 and Bakewell Urban Council took over the Recreation Ground. The ground is now known as Bakewell Recreation Ground, it extends to thirteen acres and is within a conservation area. The ground is easily accessible from the town centre and has two cricket pitches and two croquet lawns. It is the home of Bakewell Cricket Club.
* The Primrose League was set up in 1883 by Randolph Churchill as a Conservative political pressure group. Its membership grew quickly and by 1910 there were 2 million members organised into branches, or habitations'.