The wind of change at Croquet Club 

Weather vane unveiling points
to another big club milestone


BLOWN AWAY:  Almost 60 members and guests watch Bishop Monkton Croquet Club Vice Chairman John Hague reach new heights by fitting a specially made croquet themed weather vane on top of the clubhouse. The occasion was to signal the completion of the club's £17,500 ground improvement project and the opening of splendid new lawns.




LEFT: Club Chairman Richard Field hits off the first ball on one of the splendid new lawns.Others in the hitting off party are, from left Derek Knight (The Croquet Association), John Hague (Club Vice Chairman) and Dawn Hay (Leader, Club U3A Section). 

RIGHT: The weather vane was specially made for the club by Ripon blacksmith Chris Clarke of Skell Wrought Iron. The unnamed croquet player featured on high will in future be in a perpetual spin hoping to bring warm wind-free days for club games. But perhaps his best intentions will all be in vane!



Almost 60 members and guests were at Bishop Monkton Croquet Club on Monday, June 9,  to help celebrate the completion of the club's £17,500 ground improvement project and the opening of splendid new lawns.

To mark the occasion a special wrought iron weather vane was created by Ripon blacksmith Chris Clarke of Skell Wrought Iron. The unveiling or the weather vane provided a highlight during the opening cerfemony..

Club Vice Chairman John Hague, throwing caution to the winds, clambered up a ladder propped up against the side of the clubhouse and placed the top part of the new croquet-themed weather vane in position, giving it a triumphant spin to loud applause.

Club Chairman Richard Field had just before announced that John was about to perform a death-defying feat of bravery, climbing on to the roof and then hitting a croquet ball along the ridge of the roof. (John butted in to say this was the first he had heard of this!). Ignoring the protestation, Richard thoughtfully produced a small first-aid kit in case of mishap.

At the last minute, because of unfavourable winds, it was deciced to modify his airborne feat, reducing it merely to putting the final part of the weather vane in place which he did with great aplomb!.

In his opening speech, Richard said the day marked yet another notable milestone in the history of the club.

He recalled that in 2005 the area now occupied by the sports field was just a rough pasture, with a tangle of grass and weeds up to a height of 3 feet.  Seeing it, he and several co-conspirators and subsequent founder members had a dream - to create a croquet club!

By 2006 the fledgling club had a semblance of a lawn but no shelter and very basic equipment. Members squatted on orange boxes between games.

By 2008 the club had raised £5,000 to build a clubhouse/storeroom, and a year later was playing matches against other Yorkshire Clubs. By 2011 it had a team in the Yorkshire League and currently had three teams in the League, more than any other club in Yorkshire.

The blackest year was 2012 when, due to unprecedented summer rainfall, the lawns were regularly under water, causing the grass to die and ominous hollows to appear in the ground. 'We believed that other clubs might be slightly concerned if their players disappeared without trace down a sink hole while visiting us', Richard commented.,

The plan to undertake a major ground improvement scheme involved laying 420 yards of piped land drains,
importing 320 tons tons of new top soil, levelling the area with up to eight lasers and then seeding - and hoping for the best!

Today we saw the results, with pristine lawns providing level play for the first time. 'Our only regret, of course, is that we have now lost our previous home advantage of knowing where we needed to aim off by a few feet to go through a hoop', Richard said.

Raising the £17,500 was achieved as a result of the enormous generosity of outside donors and the club's own members, who contributed money in almsot equal proportions.

The otuside donors to whom we were extremely grateful are:

The Croquet Association (£3,000)
Bishop Monkton Village & Hall and Queen Elizabeth ll Field (£2,000)
The Garfield Weston Foundation (£2,000)
The Two Ridings Community Foundation (£1,000)
The Sylvia and Colin Shepherd Trust (£300)

The club's own members had dug deep to make up the shortfall,with two members donating £1,000 each to become Life Members, and almost every other member contributing anything from £10 to £500 - 'a wonderful response for which we are enormously grateful', said Richard.

John Hague, Vice Chairman, presented the club with a framed picture which included photographs of each phase of the ground improvement project. This will in future hang in the clubhouse.

Derek Knight, who was accompanied by his wife, Carol, and who represented the Croquet Association, congratulated the club on completing its ground improvementt project and on re-opening its new lawns.

He had first become involved in the scheme in the early stage, and had visited the ground last autumn when the croquet lawns looked like 'one big lake'. He was glad The Croquet Association had been able to contribute £3,000 towards the work as it had helped earlier by putting £1,500 towards the new clubhouse.

He had been glad to offer advice on how he thought the ground project should be undertaken and the seed mix to use.
He was impressed by what he had seen and thought the new lawns would play well and would further improve as they matured.

After lunch, guests adjourned to the lawns where progressive doubles were played during the afternoon. The event was expertly organised by Trevor Wood.

A 'Croquet Challenge' organised by John Kendal and  inviting participants to hit balls through hoops from different distances, was won by Derek Jeary. However, because almost everyone was involved in the progessive doubles, his was the only entry so sportingly refused to accept a prize.

Guests for the day included Mervyn Beecroft (Chairman of Parish Council) and Pauline,  Alan Wigby (groundsman) and Kathy, Will Hannay (representing Bishop Monkton Cricket Club), and Bob Upton and Peter Clarke (playing field volunteers).

Yorkshire croquet clubs were represented by Richard and Judy Lorimer and Richard and Ann Butler (Ben Rhydding)Rosemary Longbottom and  Daphne Pepler (Ripon), Peter Veal and Victor Hext (Brodsworth Hall), Michael and Christine Kinder (Huddersfield), Bryan Lye and George Brown (The Dales), and Wendy Nelson and Gillian Timms (Ryedale).

Those unable to attend who sent messages of support were Anna Girauid (Chairman, Yorkshire Croquet Federation), Peter Jones (Sheffield U3A Group) and Gerald Shervington I(Chairman, Bishop Monkton Village Hall and Queen Elizabeth ll Field) and representatives from The Garfield Weston Foundation and The Two Ridings Community Foundation..

Rosemary Longbottom, from the Ripon club, thanked the club for providing an excellent and well organised event.



Renewing old acquaintances

Table l

Table 2

Table 3

Table 4

Table 5


Table 6

Table 7


Pictures by our roving photographers                           
                                                                                     Sara MacPherson, Trevor & Lesley Wood, Richard Field


Derek Knight at the opening ceremony



John Hague - opting for an easy task!


Richard Field talking again!


Knocking off time

The Black Knight


U3A Group get together


Sara and Lesley


Progressive doubles in progress

Who said this was a placid game?


Other milestones for the club


2005 - we have a dream

2007 - new club launched



2012 - a bit of a setback!


2013 - digging for survival!