Harberton Playing Field Association
A Minuted History 1959 - 2005

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Harberton Playing Field Association (HPFA) has Minutes books dating back to 1959 when it was formed. Many of the minutes are concerned with the organisation of fund raising events and the ongoing problem of getting the grass cut. These apart, here are excerpts from over forty five years of minutes, to give a picture of the Playing Field’s history.

1936 - Parlour Field is gifted
We gather from Parish Council records that on 24/10/36 Parlour Field, field no. 6770 - 2 acres, was gifted to the village for recreation. Until 1959 this was administered by the Parish Council.

HPFA forms in 1959

20th October 1959 The first meeting is held in Harberton School with the object of forming a committee to run the Playing Field. It is opened by Mr Blackler representing the Parish Council. In future it will be the responsibility of the HPFA to look after the Field. Mr Eastleigh was to be notified that his cattle should be removed from the Field. Whist drives and jumble sales are to be held to raise funds.

1960 - A Bonfire event is held and HPFA join the Devon Playing Field Association.

Sheep keep the grass down
The field is fenced to make it stock proof and the grass is kept down by Mr. Rose’s sheep.

May 1961 - A 20ft X 8ft wall is built to play ball games against and new sand is bought for the sandpit.

28th July 1961 - A survey of the PF is to be made to show the levels. A grant application would be sent off on receipt of the plan.

September 1961 - The Constitutional Club are not prepared to take any further action in repairing the railings around the pump. It was decided that there was no danger of anyone falling into the well so no further action would be taken.

25th June 1962 - After reading and signing papers brought from the Parish Council by Mr Whittaker we agreed to pay the Parish Council 1/- per annum for rent.

9th July 1962 - Decision made to get swings and a whirling platform.

1963 Tenancy Agreement with Peppercorn Rent

15th July 1963 - A tenancy agreement was signed between The Harberton Parish Council and The Harberton Playing Fields Committee for tenancy of Ordnance Survey Number 667 in the Parish of Harberton. It was signed by Albert Edward Henry (Jan) Goodwin of Pendarves, and William Edward Palmer of Springbank.
Various clauses tell us that anything we do other than cut the grass, trim trees and hedges and mend fences - but not the fence around the “Constitutional Club” - must have the agreement of the Parish Council.

July 1963 - The chairman read a letter from Devon PFA saying HPFA didn’t have a case for asking for a National PFA grant as they had £304 of their own money which was considered to be enough to pay for the equipment needed.

1964 New Swings
17th March 1964 – It is proposed that an estimate for the erection of swings etc. from Mr Turpin be accepted. Swings paid for by the late Mr Goddard.
Railings are needed around the pump.

8th May 1964 - PF thought it the responsibility of the Constitutional Club to remove the pump.

24th July 1964 - Stuart Goodwin donated 10 shillings for cutting the grass for hay.

There are no records of any other meetings until May 1966 when we hear that grass cutting was still a problem.
April 1967 - The vicar proposed a tennis court and cricket pitch.

May 1967 - HPFA would pay 1/3 of the cost of making safe the well. Mr Steer to be asked to cut the grass.

July 1967 - The roundabout is in a dangerous state. Payment for covering the well is withheld as the job is unsatisfactory.

1969 Miss Luke is allowed to graze her pony on the Field and the possibility of grazing sheep was discussed.

1970 - The grass appears to take 8 hours to cut!
August 1970 - Mr Widger is asked to cut the grass 3 times a year at 7/6d per hour which will be £3 per cut.

1971 - There was urgent need of a tenant for the top acre of the Field. The bank down to the road by the entrance is dangerous and the hedge subsiding.

16th Oct 1972 - Money was paid to a villager who had suggested that he be paid £15 to keep the grass short throughout the summer. “This arrangement had been most unsatisfactory as he had only cut the grass once, so in future HPF will pay per cut.”
The Parish Council agree to pay the annual insurance premium for the PF in future.
The top of the PF is let for £7.50 for 6 months.

1971 - Ken Luke Builds “The Fort” and Stone Seat
1971 - Ken Luke builds an adventure construction out of concrete onto the existing ball play wall. This is nicknamed “the Kenny”.

19th April 1973 - Ken Luke said he intended to build a stone seat and, as the WI were thinking of buying a seat for the PF, perhaps they could instead provide a piece of oak to be built into the stone.

1974 - The entrance has become increasingly dangerous and the HPC are asked for help. Grass cutting is still the big problem and a rota of dads is suggested. SHDC would be far too expensive.
A Bonfire Night is planned and hot dogs are 5p, soup 4p and raffle tickets 2p. (Bonfires were then an annual PF event up until 1998.)

March 1975 - The top of the PF is still being used for grazing and the dangerous entrance has still not resolved.

Oak tree planted in 1978 for the Queens Silver Jubilee
There are no minutes in the records for the next 4yrs until April 1979. Either little happened or a minutes book has gone missing.
Presumably the oak was planted in ’78. (This is the one near the car park.)

1979 - Ram Roast and New Ideas
April 1979 - A new large and very active committee take over comprising the McKenzie, Cirin, Patrick, Oldfield, Whitehead, Hoddinott and Hockings families. John Hockings is paid to cut the grass regularly and the top part of the PF is repossessed and the dividing fence removed.
Meetings with SHDC and DPFA were arranged and new equipment planned.

18th July 1979 - A Ram Roast is planned. Peter Kennedy (of Dartington) will do the music for £20 and might bring his stick dancers.

22nd October 1979 - A playground feature is to be built from the earth removed from the road entrance when this is rebuilt to make a safer access path. The mound of removed soil could be covered in grass and a slide sunk into it.

1980 - New Pedestrian Entrance Shaped.
Soil Removed Makes Mound
1980 - The new pedestrian entrance is built and the estimated 500 – 700 tons of earth removed makes “the mound”. Levelling an area of the Field for a tennis court is considered at the same time if it doesn’t cost more than £100. The actual cost and the extra commitment are far too much so this is postponed. Gorse bushes are planted on the road bank as grass won’t grow there as there is no soil.
This committee organises Dinner Dances, Bonfire, Ram Roast and Messrs Cirin and Whitehead organised a children’s camping weekend in the summer.

Ferreting for Funds
Peter Patrick has offered his ferrets as a mini gambling game for the 1980 Ram Roast and Mrs Hoddinott will provide the ewes for the ram roast!

1981 - Custom Built Slide in British Racing Green
1981 - Brian Whitehead makes a mould and builds the fibreglass slide in British racing green, with the help of Bill McKenzie.
Vlad Cirin says he could make a climbing frame from scaffolding poles.
John Hockings continues to cut the grass.
There is a BBQ and sports for the Royal Wedding.

1982 – Sheep Overwinter
The top part of the field is very uneven and not suitable for ball games. It is levelled out and reseeded. At the same time the cover over the well is lowered. Sheep are used to graze the grass during the winter.

1983 – Equipment Grant
A grant of £1000 is secured for new swings and two rocking horses.

1984 - Swings, Rocking Horses and Roses
The WI plant up the road bank and the PFA plant 100 Rugosa Roses at the top of the bank to stop children accessing the road other than by the safe exit.
6 new swings, 3 large and 3 cradle, arrived and are erected by the local authority in case of any future problem with them.
2 rocking horses and a wooden Buck-A-Bout are bought.

(During the next five years other families who took a turn on the very active committee included the Bowdens, Hands, Hoeys, Findlays, Strivens, Thomases and Waldrons,.)

1985 - The tennis court idea is discussed again but would cost £6,000. The children request a concrete area for ball games but it would be too expensive to build as would be a climbing frame.
The newly formed Harberton Cricket Club have requested permission to use of the PF for practice and matches.

1986 - Royal Wedding Street Party
There are quite a few fund raising events. There is a street party on the PF for the Royal Wedding, organised by Kathy Bowden, with an evening of sports and games.
1986 - The CC practice on the PF and James Miller of the CC cuts the grass.

1987 - Grass cutting is a problem again – step in John Hockings once more. The committee question the safety of the hard surfaces under the play equipment and look into safety surfaces.

1987 - SHDC take over looking after the play equipment
21st October 1987 - SHDC take over the responsibility for the maintenance of the fixed play equipment. Any future new equipment must meet the safety requirements laid down by SHDC and their insurers and be installed by SHDC.

1988 - Rubber safety matting is ordered through SHDC. The cost is to be 10% HPF and 90% SHDC.

SHDC, now looking after the play equipment, build a fence across the Field behind the mound to separate off the playground area without consulting HPFA nor the HPC. HPC asked for it to be removed.

1988 - Popular Play Tractor is not Popular with Insurers
An old tractor is installed for the children to play on but SHDC are not happy to insure it as it is non standard equipment. The HPFA are advised to take out a separate insurance for it.
A seat is installed half way up the Field and 6 trees planted.
A skate board track and goal posts have been suggested by the children.
A climbing frame has been chosen but there is disappointment that the SHDC budget is already spent.
The Cricket Club ask to use the PF but PF not happy about an area being fenced off for the square. Wanting to help though, they give permission providing no permanent fence is erected, parking is properly organised and safety signs are displayed when practices or a game are in progress. The CC then manage to get permission to play at Dundridge so problem solved.

Car Parking
11th October 1988 - In a letter from HPC the committee are asked to manage all further requests for parking on the PF for village events.
Some general principles are agreed:
All vehicles parked on the Playing Field must be taxed and insured.
The parking area must be roped off on each occasion.
No parking if the ground is too wet.

1989 - New Goal Posts but the Grass is too long
Wooden goal posts installed but the grass was often too long to play on.
Brian Waldron cuts the grass in the equipment area.
Safety surfacing is completed but the wood around the edge was high and children are tripping up.
Dick Thomas organises a picnic table for the play area.
Parking permission given for the Flower Festival in the Church.
PFA agree to support the newly formed Harberton Parish Hall Committee but it is thought inadvisable to merge at this early stage.

June 1990 - John Hockings said that the grass had been allowed to get too long for him to cut. SHDC were asked for help but were too expensive.
The state of the hedges after “the wind” was causing concern.
Mike Harris and the Youth Club planted hazel trees with the help of SH Environment Dept.

1991 - The grass is a big problem. SHDC are too expensive and John Hocking is too busy.
New members are Ken Beagley and Jan Culf.
At the end of the year Helen Patrick organises the purchase of a gang mower, bought 50/50 with the Youth Club.

1992 - Land Gifted for New Parish Hall and Bigger Playing Field
19th Feb 1992 - Mrs Yates of the Dundridge Estate conveys a piece of land adjoining the Playing Field to HPC on which to build a new village hall and extend the existing playing field.

The Fort Must Go
1992 - We are told that the fort must come down as it does not comply with current standards.
A new roundabout is chosen
April - It is proposed that we have good relations with the Parish Hall committee but remain separate.
Sept – Request to fell ash tree at back of Tristford Cottage.
Gang mower needs a shelter and oiling.
New roundabout has been removed as it is not safe.

Lots of Problems to Overcome in 1993
May 1993 - New roundabout needs a speed restrictor fitted and should be returned soon.
Ash tree by Tristford Cottage has been felled.
Fences need mending.
Fort rubble needs removing.
Gang mower has been left out over winter and needs attention and a cover.
Great difficulties in getting the grass cut. Edward Goodwin will cut the grass for hay.
PFA committee is below the number of 6 that is needed. Because of dwindling numbers it is proposed by some that the PFA becomes a sub committee of the Parish Hall committee.

1993 - New Committee and New Ways Forward
28th July AGM 1993 - With all but two of the previous committee resigning a new committee is elected comprising Ken Beagley, Jan Culf, John Culf, Lorraine Osborne, Jenny Thomas, Louisa Cooper and Rev. Maurice Furlonger. Ways forward are discussed with representatives of the Parish Council.

29th July 1993 - Plan of immediate action drawn up to solve above problems.
John and Jan Culf mow the grass by roping the gang mower behind their car.

10th August 1993 - Ways forward are discussed at a site meeting with John Goulden of SHDC including our insurance responsibilities, possible grants, keeping dogs out, shrub planting, a nature area, apple tree planting, a picnic bench, safety matting specifications, new equipment e.g. a climbing frame, and contacts who may be able to help.

September 1993 - Roundabout has been returned. Fort rubble has been removed.
Grass has been cut. Gang mower has new tyres and John Joiner has offered to maintain it.
Most fences have been mended. “No Dogs” notices will be put up by HPC.
SHDC will have another look at the play tractor to see if it can be made safe.
A HPFA constitution is searched for but not found.
Pedestrian entrance tidied up, a lot of gorse needs to be removed.
Community participation is good with Thursday afternoon work sessions with picnic.
A BBQ is held.
Bonfire Night plans underway including children’s lantern making workshops and links with Dartington College students’ project in the community.

1993 - Beagley’s Bonfire Blaze
November 1993 - The Bonfire is very successful with Dartington college students performing a Mummers Play about Jack Frost.
Ken and Jill Beagley organised lantern making workshops in the back of the Church and there were competitions for children.

1994 - Family Fun Days
Jan 1994 - The PFA feel they have a role to play in providing for the social and recreational need of the children of the village in the absence of a Hall and Youth Club. A series of free family activities are organised. Activities planned for half term include Pancake Races, Tree Planting and Bonfire Video evening. Later will be an Easter Egg Hunt and Egg Rolling; a May Day Procession of Giants and Garlands and Summer Fun Days with Reach.

The competition to design a piece of play equipment for the old fort area was won by William Jones who suggested a basketball post. SHDC to be contacted re funding for this.

We request guidance from SH Environment Service on how to preserve existing trees on southern boundary when levelling work takes place as part of the new Hall project.

March 1994 - John and Jan Culf are cutting the grass. John will fence off and spray the mound to rid it of nettles.
May Day celebrations are planned with Garland Workshops, Procession of Maypole and Garlands, Morris Dancers, Jack in the Green, BBQ, Bar and Rounders.

1994 - Apple Trees are Planted for Future Scrumpers and Basketball Shooting Area Built.
Apple trees are planted at the back of the mound. Also a circle of beeches for a future den.

A basketball post and shooting area of concrete is created. Local civil engineer Andrew Duncan assists. SHDC provide the post.

The plans for the proposed extension and levelling of the Field have been a big issue throughout the year There is concern about the levelling of the site regarding damage to the present trees, drainage and responsibility for the site until such time that it is usable as a playing field again.

We reluctantly have to get rid of the tractor as it does not meet current safety standards.

1994 - Ice & Fire Dragon Bonfire
The Bonfire theme is The Ice Dragon and the Fire Dragon, the bonfire being the dragon’s mountain. Music was written for the occasion by Ian Wellens of Dartington College and a joint band of Harberton residents and Dartington students was formed to perform on the night with rehearsals held at Dartington College.

1995 - Levelling Scheme Debates and
Jubilee Oak is Saved
There are many in depth discussions about the proposed levelling scheme and there are joint meetings to exchange ideas with HPH committee.
Jan Culf and Ken Beagley will attend HPH committee meetings. HPH committee ask permission to fell Jubilee Oak but PFA not happy and after much debate suggest an on site decision as the soil is being moved and try to work out a way of sculpting the contours around it with felling being only a very last resort.

1995 - Pancake Races, Easter Egg Hunt, and VE Day/May Day Celebrations.
A series of children’s and village events is planned including garland workshops for Mayday. A maze is mown for Mayday.

Gardening continues as a regular Thursday afternoon activity.
John and Jan Culf are cutting the grass.

5-a-side football posts are bought and put behind the old Club as a ball play area whilst the main area is being relandscaped.

Jan Culf collects money for some village bunting from all other village groups and it is bought by Martin Fearn who works near the supplier.

The Church is used for the Children’s Christmas Party.

1996 - Tree Sponsorship is Popular
January 1996 - John Culf presents a suggested planting scheme for new trees. Trees ordered (on advice from SHDC) are 25 ash, 12 field maple, 25 oak, 25 wild cherry, 13 dogwood, 75 hawthorn and 75 hazel. Planting will be at 1.5m centres to be thinned later. 2 existing apple trees are to be moved to a more suitable position.
A tree sponsorship scheme is started and over 200 are sponsored.

The large swings have been replaced by SHDC.

Jan 1996 - The New “Harberton Parish Hall And Playing Field” is Proposed and the HPFA has a
“Last” Meeting
January 1996 - The proposal is accepted that HPFA be dissolved and its assets transferred to a new charity known as Harberton Parish Hall and Playing Field. This action to take place after the adoption of a new combined HPHAPF Constitution. Various ways of organising a combined committee are discussed and proposals are made by the PFA.
All remaining PFA committee members resign as they do not want to be on a committee involved with the running of the Hall. Jan Culf will attend meetings to represent the PF and keep separate HPFA accounts and minutes to keep the books in order until the merger is effected.

New Level Playing Field Takes Shape
1996 - The newly levelled area is marked out in squares and stones are painstakingly removed by volunteers with buckets before the area is seeded.
A new drainage soak away channel is dug across the bottom of the lower bank from below the Jubilee Oak across towards the slide.
John Culf cuts the grass with the gang mower, thanks to David Cleave and Dave Duncan for loan of tractors.

Jan Culf holds lantern and guy making workshops for Bonfire Night. Giant fireworks sculptures are made from carpet roll tubes.

1997 - New Igloo Climbing Frame
New “Igloo” climbing frame is chosen by the children and installed by SHDC with shared costs.
The Field is fertilised to counter a potash deficiency and stones are less of a problem with the good coverage of grass.
The seesaw fails its safety inspection and is removed.
John Culf plants trees on the bank between the top and lower car park and coppices the hazel trees by the basketball shooting area.
The old gang mower has been inspected and deemed impractical to repair. A minor accident was reported so it was thought dangerous to keep the mower on site and it has been taken away.
With no mower grass cutting is once more a major problem. James Miller offers to do the job at a special rate.
Jan Culf is unsuccessful in an application for a grant from the National Lottery Small Grants Scheme to help buy a mower as HPFA does not have its own Constitution.

Merger of HPH and HPFA drags on. Formal approval still awaited.

The Cricket Club looses their facilities at Dundridge and investigates the possibility of purchasing the field adjoining the PF.

The theme of the 1997 Bonfire Event is the Vikings. The bonfire is built from a lorry load of donated palettes to represent a longboat. Lantern and shield making workshops are held. The procession of lanterns goes around the village starting at the church.

1998 – Princes Diana Memorial Oak Planted
More new trees are planted and a Princess Diana memorial tree is planted by James Miller in the corner of the Field near the top of the slide.

We are still waiting to hear from the Charities Commission about meeting the requirements of the merger. Meanwhile the HPFA still has no constitution as a guiding document and therefore cannot get grants so Jan Culf draws up a new Constitution which is adopted at the AGM on 20th May 1998. This will enable the HPFA to function properly until the proposed HPHAPF constitution is sorted out.
John Culf looks after weeds and holes in both car parks.

1998 - New Goal Posts
Heavy weight junior size portable goals are purchased. Bigger ground anchors are made using metaposts, chains and padlocks to replace the less efficient ones that came with the equipment.
3 new toddler swing seats and new heads for the rocking horses are received from SHDC.
The Culfs suggest buying a mower for the play park as their own is suffering and will not do the job for much longer.

1998 - Spooky Castle and Skeletons go up in Flames
The theme for the 1998 bonfire event is a Spooky Castle. Children construct and paint the bonfire using lots of donated palettes. Procession workshops are held.
Jan & John Culf step down as organisers of recent Bonfire Events and ask for volunteers to take over.

1999 - More Trees and a New Mower
A new hedge of 150 mixed trees of native species is planted on the bank on the west boundary.
Ralph Staniland plants daffodil bulbs around the trees in the play park area!

A new rotary motor mower for cutting the play equipment area is bought with the proceeds donated from the Snowdrop Coffee Morning at West Lodge.

PFA were awarded a grant from the Parish Council to help with grass cutting expenses. James Miller is contracted to do 8 cuts per year on the main Field. The Culfs continue to mow the play equipment area.

A copper beech was planted at the request of Mabel Goodwin in memory of her late husband Jan Goodwin who had been a founder member of the HPFA.

Merger of HPH and HPFA is Finally Dropped
13th Dec 1999 - There has been no movement in the merger of HPH and HPFA. It was agreed that there were certain benefits in keeping the HPH and HPFA separate. The Parish Council agreed to let their request for the amalgamation lapse. Continuing the status quo was accepted i.e. the two committees running parallel and sharing meetings.

2000 - Ride on Mower Makes Grass Cutting Manageable
Profits from Folk Concerts, the Snowdrop Coffee Morning and a generous donation pay for (£1900) a second hand ride on mower. The balance needed was borrowed from the Harberton Children’s Fund and Parish Hall to be paid back by the end of the year. More frequents cuts make the grass on the Field a more manageable and playable length.
The mowings are used as a mulch for the young trees.
A monthly rota of willing helpers to pick up litter, sticks and stones is drawn up. This keeps the Field looking nice and greatly helps the grass cutting.

2001 - Foot and Mouth Closes Playing Field
The Field is closed for the early part of the year due to the outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease. It is reopened in time for the beginning of the school Easter holidays.
The loans for the mower are repaid and donations from Folk Concerts at the Hall organised by John Culf rebuild the funds.
The area in the south west corner of the Field amongst the new trees is a popular camping area with the village children.

A seat donated by Alick Whittle and Sheila Mowatt in memory of their mother is installed by the Princess Diana memorial oak near the top of the slide.

More stone is laid on the top car park. Road scalpings are obtained. John Hockings assists with the spreading.

We get a new litter bin. This is emptied by SHDC.

Most of the protective guards around new trees are removed.

The Field was cut on more occasions this year which was more costly on fuel but made for a better playing surface.

SHDC cut funding for play areas not belonging to them but maintenance and inspections will continue.

2002 - Campers Give Playing Field its First Earned Income
The PFA earns a very good income by providing a campsite for a group of Hall hirers and new goal nets are purchased with some of this money.
A knapsack sprayer for weed killer is bought. Advice and great care is taken to ensure that spraying is safe.
At the end of the year children in the village request a skateboard area.

2003 – Skateboarding Facility Feasibility
There are site meetings about a skateboard facility with HPC, SHDC, local residents and interested parents. A feasibility report is received from SHDC which makes it look an unlikely project because of extensive Health & Safety, insurance and maintenance conditions.

Three untaxed cars and an abandoned car in the top car park are a problem. Two are removed by the owners and the Parish Council reports the third to SHDC who tow it away.

The ride on mower needs a new gearbox. It is working to its limit on the Field.

Campers from a Hall booking again bring in a useful income for PF.

Oct 2003 - Since January 2000 the HPFA has held its meetings at the same time as Parish Hall meetings with Hall committee members doubling up as HPFA members.
This duality of the committees is thought to have become confusing and not beneficial as each has its own separate needs.
It was mutually agreed that future meetings, commencing January 2004, will not be shared but there will be an exchange of relevant information via e-mailed minutes or other means.
New members are sought and there is an excellent response.

2004 - New Mower and Car Park Improvements
A new ride on mower is purchased. It is larger, more powerful and better suited for the job. Harberton Folk donates £1,750 towards the cost.

Following vehicle damage to the Field perimeter posts are added around the car park.

We are advised to display notices saying who looks after the area and contact details. The new entrance notice will say “Welcome” in big letters.

Trees previously planted in circles on the slopes by the play equipment area are pruned and shaped to create natural dens.

2005 – Helepayne Help Paint

Following an email village circular the Helepayne Foundation at Tristford offer their help with repainting the goal posts.