Ham Boxing Club was off Ham Street opposite Wiggins Cottages. Many locals learned to box there and some went on to take part in ABA and Southern Area Championships. Among those were Dave Stone, Dave Morris, Alex Dunning, Charlie Payne and Fred Taylor. The Club was built during the War to keep boys occupied.
Ham Polo Club (the London Polo Club)
One of the oldest remaining polo clubs in the UK it was established in 1926. It began life as the Ham Common Polo Club with one ground on Church Road next to Brown Gates House and another at Parkgate House. After Church Road the Club had a full sized ground north of what is now Holly Lodge. During the Second World War this was turned into a market garden. After the war the club began playing on the ground at Roehampton Gate. In 1950 George Stevens, who owned Manor Farm agreed to convert and lease the original wheat field into a polo ground and the orchard into a stick and ball practice field. In 1965 a fire destroyed the original clubhouse but by the following season the members had purchased and erected two army Nissen huts from the temporary wartime barracks in Richmond Park still in use today. In 1970 the club purchased the freehold. In 1995 the land behind the clubhouse which had been Kings College Cricket ground and then paddocks came up for sale and was purchased by the club. In 1996 Prince Charles officiated at the opening of the new Jubilee Ground. In 2003 a state of the art irrigation system was installed, in 2005 works were completed on the decking project and in 2008 a new all weather exercise track was installed, a club livery business established and the Club was rebranded as HPC the London Polo Club.
Ham Cricket Club
It is thought that cricket started on Ham Common in 1815 but it is 1841 before the first written record of a game between Twickenham and Ham (then called the Albion Club) appears. In 1855 there is a newspaper report of the club called Ham Common but usually known as Ham Albion up to 1868 when it changed to Ham Star. This was shortlived and from 1869-1891 it was known as Ham or Ham Albion. In 1891 it acquires present name of Ham and Petersham Cricket Club.
The Club met in various venues including the Crooked Billet, Ham Institute, Ham School and the Hand and Flower. The groundsman, a paid position, from the turn of the century up to the war was Shadrach Hopkins. He was helped by his nephew Victor who lived in Evelyn Rd.
Surrey Comet June 1901: “Yesterday during his dinner hour, Thomas Button aged 26 went to play cricket with some companions on the Common and during the game was struck behind the ear by the ball and instantly killed”
From 1918-39 the Club flourished and many players of national renown Hobbs, Sandham and Strudwick, the Bedser twins and Surridge played on the Common. A notable local personality was Philip Carr (biscuit manufacturers) who lived at Montrose House and was active in the club from the 1920’s through to the 1960’s
Surrey Comet 1927: Report “Old time cricket: Married versus Single- Tug of War in a pond”
Wilf Stevens, the well-known local builder, first played for the Club as a youngster in 1934 and continued to play up to the war. He also played cricket for his regiment and football for Ham which was a good side in the Richmond League. He recalls that on many occasions he helped to pull animals out of the pond. At this time every householder was allowed to keep one animal (a horse or a cow) on the Common. This feature continued up to the 1950’s
Meetings were held at the Ham Institute which was used regularly for changing. Ham Garage was also used. It was rented by Henry Adams who acted as Chauffeur for the Bowes-Lyon family.
The first matches after the war were played at the Cassell Hospital and in Richmond Park and they then returned to the Common. In 1954 the ground was also used by St Andrews Boys Club but a plan for ground sharing with the British Legion Club met with protests. This club folded in 1956. In 1959 another club was started, an offshoot of the Ham Football Club, called Ham Cricket Club but this ceased to function in the1970’s. Michel Parkinson played for the Club for a few years when he lived in Surbiton. President of the Club from 1955-59 was Major McGrath, former Director of Wembley Stadium, who lived in the Manor House in Ham St. An eccentric Polish lady also made her mark in the 1960’s. an artist, she had bright red hair, was always dressed in the same colour form head to foot, and on many occasion in a season would walk right across the pitch during a game. In 1961 a charity match was held to raise funds for new changing facilities and in 1967/8 the new pavilion was built next to the Hand and Flower.
“Labour Voice” February 1974: “The crack of leather against willow has been heard on Ham Common for over 150 years and there is now a threat that cricket may not be played there any more. Ham and Petersham Cricket Club are having difficulty with maintaining the cricket square on the Common. Your councillors are pressing the Council’s Parks Department to help keep up the square. If you feel that 150 years of cricket tradition should be kept up write to us.”
Richmond Ice Rink in a sense replaced a roller-skating rink at a very similar location.. This had been built before the First World War on Cambridge Road, East Twickenham.The disused rink was bought in 1914 by the French industrialist Charles Pelabon for use as a munitions factory. He built four or five more workshops over the extensive site, and one of the last was the red-brick riverside building of 1915 which later became Richmond Ice Rink. From 1914–15 about 6,000 Belgian refugees, some of them injured soldiers, settled in the Twickenham and Richmond area after the Germans invaded their country, many of which became workers at the factory.
After the war almost all the Belgian refugees returned home, but Charles Pelabon continued to use the site for general engineering until 1924. He then sold it to Charles Langdon, who had developed the ice rink at Hammersmith. He converted the factory into an ice rink which opened on 18 December 1928. All the skating clubs that had previously been based at the ice-rinks at Hammersmith and Earl’s Court transferred to Richmond, making it the premier rink in London. When it opened in 1928 the ice surface (286 ft long by 80 ft wide) was the longest in any indoor rink in the world, however, it was shortened to 200 feet in 1935.
Joachim von Ribbentrop, appointed German Ambassador to Britain in 1936, bought a house next door to the ice rink; his hobby was ice dancing and he reputedly spent his evenings skating and socialising at the rink. At the outbreak of war in 1939 the rink was ordered to close, but the American Embassy subsequently persuaded the British Government to allow it to reopen for the use of American servicemen who played ice hockey there.
Arnold Gerschwiler was head coach at the Richmond Ice Rink from 1938 and was made director in 1964 until its demolition in 1992. Betty Callaway, best known for coaching Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, became a skating coach at the rink in 1950.
Richmond Ice Rink also was the home ice for several ice hockey teams. Richmond Flyers which played at premier league level in the British Hockey League was perhaps the most successful.
It was the home of Aldwych Speed Club a very successful short track speed skating club, from 1934 until the rinks closure in 1992, when the club moved briefly to Basingstoke then its current home at Guildford Spectrum.
The rink was sold in 1978 to a property developer, who kept it running until 1987, when it was bought by another property company, the London and Edinburgh Trust, which intended to develop the site for luxury housing. The planning consent stipulated that the company had to construct a new rink on an alternative site in the borough. In 1989, Richmond upon Thames Council accepted £2.5 million as compensation and withdrew this condition. In 1992, the rink closed and the building was demolished to be replaced by housing. No replacement rink has been built.
Teddington Pool is a public swimming pool and fitness centre in Vicarage Road, in Teddington. Originally built as a lido pool in 1931, it was closed in 1976 and rebuilt as an indoor facility in 1978. Since its original construction in 1931, the pool has been home to Richmond Swimming Club, who continue to use the facility. After the pool was rebuilt, Teddington Swimming Club was formed and continue to use it as a base. Teddington Sub Aqua Club also use the pool.
Pools on the Park (previously known as Richmond Baths) is a swimming pool and leisure facility in Old Deer Park in Richmond, London. Construction on the 6.5-acre) site started in 1964 and was completed in 1966. The pool replaced the previous Richmond baths nearby which had been built in Parkshot in 1882. The building, which includes 33.3-metre (109 ft) pool and a learner pool inside, and an open-air pool outside, received a Civic Trust award in 1967.
Kingston’s first swimming baths was a floating pool moored in the Thames which opened in 1882. This was replaced by one opened in Wood Street in 1897. By 1937 this was replaced by the Coronation Baths in Denmark Road which had a sliding roof which could be opened during fine weather. Surbiton already had its open air lagoon in Raeburn Avenue which was opened in 1934. The Coronation Baths closed in 1980 and were replaced by the Kingfisher on the Wheatfield in 1984 followed by the Malden Centre pool in 1987 in Blagdon Road.
Petersham Sports and Social Club was formed as a cricket and tennis club in 1937 (based in the fields now occupied by Ham Polo Club) and these facilities were shared with the owners (London University). Fifty years later, in 1987, the lands were put up for sale and the Petersham Sports and Social Club suddenly found themselves homeless. In 1989, Grey Court School wanted to add tennis to their already impressive facilities and they joined forces with some parents who were former members of the Petersham Sports and Social Club. The result was four hard courts and a cricket square. The courts were financed and built by the club on land supplied by the School. Several years later, the cricket section was closed because of player shortage, and the Club changed its name to Ham and Petersham Lawn Tennis Club. The courts were resurfaced in 2008. and are now widely praised as the best playing surfaces in the area.
Horticulture in Ham and Petersham
Ham Horticultural Society
This was originally known as the Ham Cottagers Garden Society and formed in the late 19th century and revived in the 1950’s under its current name. It held four shows a year and owned a hut off Lock Road for the sale of gardening equipment.
Petersham Horticultural Society
This was founded in the early 20th century and holds its annual Flower Show and Fete in the Village Hall in Petersham.
Walnut Tree Meadow Allotments
In the late 1940’s when the Dysarts were planning to give Ham House to the National Trust and to sell off most of their property in Ham, Richmond Council was looking for allotment space. By the Ham Agreement of 1902 it was decreed that the Dysart Estate would provide land of allotments not exceeding 20 acres if the council required it. This had never been provided and eventually in 1951 13.68 acres were obtained of which the greater part were given over to playing fields leaving 3.3 acres to be divided into 48 allotments by April 1955. There is currently a large waiting list.