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Memories of Lightcliffe's historic pavilion

Memories of Lightcliffe's historic  pavilion

It was an emotional Saturday morning for Lightcliffe Cricket Club stalwart Rodney Heyhoe writes Bill Marshall.

To the sound of creaking timbers, shattering glass and splintering wood, he and over 150 others watched their 100-year-old pavilion being demolished to make way for a two-storey building that was sitting behind it, which will be officially opened ready next month.

Of all the pavilions in the Bradford Premier League, Lightcliffe’s red and white structure, now rotting and beyond repair, was probably the most iconic, and Heyhoe had mixed feelings watching the destruction.

The longf-serving club officia; said: “In some ways I am pleased that it has gone because it will save me a lot of hours doing repairs and things and it is the end of an era – 100 years of it – and the start of a new era, which will hopefully last another 100 years.”

As for the old building, Heyhoe said: “I have had to shore it up outside, put new timbers in the roof – you name it and I have done it – but we didn’t have any showers when I started playing and I have been here 70 years man and boy.

“There were no electrics – there were gas lights – there were no showers, just the odd wash basin; the tea-room had two old gas tea boilers and they used to have call me in to light it because it used to go whoosh when it was lit and they were terrified.

“We got electricity 35 or 40 years ago when the changing rooms were at the other end and we moved the changing rooms to this end (the left as you face it) at about the same time, where the tea-room used to be.

“It was built in July 1922, and I think it is the most iconic pavilion in the Bradford League – it is certainly the only red and white one going! – and timber in those days is a lot better quality than now.

“But the new pavilion is going to match it – maybe not quite as much red, but there is going to be a red and white finish on the new one as well.”

Heyhoe added: “We will have more floor space as the changing rooms are going to be on the first floor and it will all be up to ECB specification, with a minimum of four showers per team, changing rooms and a massive balcony at the front for the players.

“There will be a long window in the bar area, and from upstairs there is a fantastic view of the field – it will be even better once they have knocked the old pavilion down!

“Downstairs there will be a social area, including a bar, better toilets etc – hang on a minute I am just waiting for the whole lot to drop, although I don’t think that it will!

“They were asked to use a smaller digger so as not to do too much damage the outfield.”

Moving on to tastier topics, Heyhoe said: “As for teas, I reckon ours are the best in the league, and I am not biased, although East Bierley’s have always been good, and Bradford & Bingley too.

“Teas are a lot better in the Bradford League than they have ever been, although they are getting quite expensive to put on nowadays.

“We now have a club manager who will sort everything out!”

One of his tasks will be to make the new structure a community hub as there is a community room for hire.

New Lightcliffe chairman Richard Leach said: “We are proud of our past and excited about our future with a new pavilion set to write a new chapter in our history.”

Lightcliffe have five senior teams – four men’s and one women’s – and countless junior sides helping to lay the foundations for future success, which brings its own problems of having enough playing strips to accommodate them all.

As for the new season in Division Two, Heyhoe confirmed that overseas player, South African Isaac Dighale, was returning and they also, of course, have the runs of Alex Stead and the wickets of Johnathan Whiteoak and Peter Dobson.

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