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Parks and open spaces - Whitehall Recreation Ground

Record details


Hillmorton Road, Rugby, CV22 5LJ

Location Map


-Sports Pitches: Football
-Play Area
-Community Events
-Informal Recreation
-War Memorial adjacent to Hillmorton Road
-Adjacent to Queen's Diamond Jubilee Centre

More information


In 1873 the cattle market moved from Sheep Street to Whitehall Recreation Ground, but it is believed it was not used as such, and in 1878 the Cattle Market on Craven Road was opened near to the Midland Railway Station.

This recreation ground of almost twelve acres (5 hectares) is situated on Whitehall Road in Rugby. The Council bought it for £2500 in 1874 (and a further £1000 in 1933) making the ground the oldest site that the council maintains and amongst one of the oldest recreation grounds in the country.

In 1878 Rugby's first floodlight Rugby match took place on Whitehall Recreation Ground between Rugby and Lutterworth, which Rugby won.

For Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1887, huge feasts were served all over Rugby. This was followed by entertainment for all at Whitehall Recreation Ground. Many different sporting events (eleven in all) started at midday on the field. This was followed by dancing and entertainment from Rugby Steam Shed Band and a pair of comedians.

The fair also included a shooting gallery, coconut shy and swing boats and concluded with a spectacular fireworks display at ten o'clock.

In 1901 when Queen Victoria died and Edward VII became King another large party was held in Whitehall Recreation Ground to celebrate his coronation. The King himself came to Rugby in July 1909 when he visited the school to inspect the Cadet Corps and plant a tree. Photographs of these events can be found at windowsonwarwickshire

On Sunday 12th March 1922 Field Marshall Earl French of Ypres unveiled the wrought iron Whitehall Memorial Gates in the presence of between ten and fifteen thousand people as a memorial to the 404 fallen heroes of Rugby whose names are inscribed on the two stone pillars supporting the gates. He was aided by Mr and Mrs Hardman whose three sons had been killed during the First World War. The gates were dedicated by Dr A A David, the Bishop of Edmundsbury and Ipswich, who was also a former Headmaster of Rugby School. Mr Tom Reynolds (who had also lost three sons) then formally opened the gates using a large key presented by Foster and Dicksee which he was allowed to keep as a souvenir. Mr Reynolds then walked through the gates as everyone sang "O God our help in ages past" and wreaths were laid.

Seven maroons were fired from Whitehall Recreation Ground on 19th October 1932 to celebrate Rugby becoming a Borough and receiving its charter. Sir Austen Chamberlain walked ceremoniously through the Memorial Gates. However, he had left the charter in his car which had driven off and so a police car had to be sent after it before the celebrations could continue.

When Queen Elizabeth II was crowned on 2nd June 1953 celebrations were again held in Whitehall Recreation Ground. Rugby town band played while the Rugby Morris Men and Rugby Scottish Society danced. When they left to dance and play at Caldecott Park the public carried on the dancing regardless.

The 5th July 1961 saw a helicopter land on Whitehall Recreation Ground for the Queen Mother's visit to Rugby to open the new Town Hall and the Benn Memorial Hall. Due to high winds the helicopter was slightly late and because the Queen Mother had hurt her foot a wheelchair was on hand in case it was necessary. Following her visit the Queen Mother sent a letter of thanks saying she had enjoyed her visit so much because Rugby had, "such happy memories from days gone by." Photographs of this can be found at windowsonwarwickshire

On September 17th 1971 the go ahead was given to build a sports centre (Ken Marriott Leisure Centre) in the recreation ground at a cost of £510,000. Roger Bannister officially opened the new leisure facility in 1973.

For the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977, Monday 6th June was declared a bank holiday and an all day fair was held on Whitehall Recreation Ground. Four other sites were opened for this Jubilee: St. Andrew's Gardens; Jubilee Gardens, Regent Place; Richard Lovegrove Adventure Playground (Jubilee Street Recreation Ground); and Avenue Road.

When the Live Aid Concert took place in July 1985 Rugby hosted its own version of the show at Whitehall Recreation Ground.

In June 1987, despite vigorous opposition, the gates were moved a few hundred yards to the left at a cost of £14,000 to make way for a new access road to the Ken Marriott Sports Centre as the old access through Cromwell Road caused increasing congestion problems for residents.

A spring fair is also held annually on Whitehall Recreation Ground. In 2001 it was reported that over 10,000 people attended the 25th annual Spring Fair to help raise a record £8000 for local charities. Attractions included, amongst many others, tug of war competitions with St Andrew's RFC, a sponge plunge, pony rides, and a belly dancer.

The recreation ground is a designated Queen Elizabeth II Field.


Accessible toilets and parking facilities are available at the adjacent Queen's Diamond Jubilee Centre. The centre also has a cafe.

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