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The Beginning

WEEKLY NEWS, Thursday, March 13, 1980

Through the Weekly News’s sports column I have been following the enquiries of the origins of the Chelmsford Hockey Club with interest. I have noted that the earliest date settle as the formation is 1901.

I have recently completed a booklet detailing the History, Life and Times of the Grove (Chelmsford) Lawn Tennis Club, and in my researches unearthed details of hockey activities in Chelmsford as early as 1898. The minute books of the Grove during this period are intact although details of events are fairly brief. i am quite confident that the following is a fair reflection on the founding details of the Chelmsford Hockey Club.

The Grove Lawn Tennis Club was founded in 1893 in Grove Road. In 1894 the Club moved to a site in Vicarage Road, where "Wellmeads" stands today. At that time the whole of the Moulsham area was yet to be developed and as well as renting the site for tennis courts, in 1898 permission was granted from the tenant, Mr Herbert Marriage, of Moulsham Lodge, for the use of a "field" behind the courts for a newly formed hockey section of the Club. This hockey section very soon became fairly independent of the Grove as formal correspondence passed between the respective secretaries.

Chelmsford Hockey Club Team Photo 1898

Sample items contained in the minutes are a request to play hockey on the tennis courts, which was of course refused and a demand for the hockey players to pay an annual subscription of 2/6 for tennis members and 5/- for non-members. This was in January 1898 and a Mr Meeres, a Grove committee member was elected captain of the hockey section. Further requests were made for the use of the court marker and pavilion and terms were agreed. At the commencement of the 1898/99 season the hockey section of the Grove Tennis Club was now called Chelmsford Hockey Club, although they continued to rent the pitch, pavilion and equipment from the Grove Tennis Club.

The last entry in the minute books referring to the hockey club appears at the meeting in April 1900 when a cash demand was made to the hockey club for damage to the Grove’s lawn mower. At this time I suspect that the relationship between the clubs was deteriorating and that the hockey club was seeking alternative accommodation. A move would certainly have been necessary in 1902 as Mr Marriage was endeavouring to evict the Grove from their site due to the land being required for building purposes. Although the Grove managed to resist eviction for a further 67 years, I doubt if they managed to hold on to the field that they were sub-letting to the Chelmsford Hockey Club.

To summarise, these facts indicate that the Chelmsford Hockey Club was formed in 1898 by members of the Grove Lawn Tennis Club and their first ground would have been in the Oaklands Crescent - St Vincent’s Road area. They probably moved and became independent of the tennis club in 1901/02.

GORDON ELEY, Chairman, Grove (Chelmsford) Lawn Tennis Club.

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