History

This page is primarily about the community centre. However, interesting information can be found about the general area by following the links at the bottom of each page which will guide you through all the pages in this section.

With thanks to those who have contributed to the content of these pages:
  • Alan Crossland of Urmston for kindly allowing us to reproduce text, photos and maps from his project "The History of Humphrey Park and Newcroft" and his book "Looking Back at Urmston".
  • "The History of our Town" on urmston.net.
  • "History" on stretfordtowncentre.org.uk.
  • Wikipedia pages about Urmston and Stretford.
  • "Districts & Townships of the Greater Manchester Metropolitan County" on manchester2002-uk.com.
  • "Remains, Historical and Literary, Connected with the Palatine Counties of Lacaster and Chester"  by the Chetham Society 1903 and digitised by Google.
  • Oxford History of British Place Names.
  • Trafford Council for kindly allowing us to reproduce some of their photos.
  • Local newspapers: Stretford and Urmston News; Urmston County Express and News-Telegraph.

The Community Centre

Humphrey Park Community Centre stands on the western side of Humphrey Lane in Urmston, midway between Urmston and Stretford town centres, within the Metropolitan Borough of Trafford, in Greater Manchester.  

Before the 1930s, the area around the community centre location was known as Gorsey Brow and the original route of Humphrey Lane would have passed in a straight line through the current location of the community centre building and bowling green with the grounds of Gorse Hill Farm on one side of the lane and The Manor Buildings and The Grove on the other. 
 
During the 1930s, Messrs. Longworth and Taylor bought several plots of land in the area for building purposes. They built the Humphrey Park and nearby Newcroft estates in 1937/8. Due to the Great Depression of the 1930s, approximately 100 of the houses remained unsold and these were put up for rent, although many have been sold in recent years.

At the beginning of World War II, an air-raid precautions post and shelter was built on spare land at the junction of Humphrey Lane and Humphrey Crescent on the site of the current community centre. This was a surface level shelter, and a great many of these were built all over the country. After the war, through the efforts of the Humphrey Park & District Residents Society, Urmston Council had a large extension added to the air-raid shelter, and this became the original Humphrey Park Community Centre in 1948, at which time a provisional management committee was set up to run it.
 
Humphrey Park Community Centre when it opened in 1948
 
Provisional Committee 1948
Mr Long, Mr Jennions, Pop Reynolds, Mr Storry
Mr Arblaster, Mrs Lees, Mrs Mountford, Mr Short
 
 
A library was opened at the centre in 1948. This was closed in 1990. A mobile library visited the centre on a weekly basis until 2012, at which time the service was discontinued.
 
Official opening of Humphrey Park Library - October 1948
Left to right: T. Farrell, Councillor A. Howsin, Councillor W. Newton,
Mrs L. Read, K. Lowe.
 
 
The bowling green was laid at the centre in 1949. Stretford and Urmston News, Friday April 22, 1949:
Humphrey Park and District Residents Society.
    The opening of the public bowling green last Monday afternoon has added yet another amenity to the Humphrey Park district. The green was opened by Mr Clegg, the pioneer, and general satisfaction was felt throughout the community that he should have the privilege of bowling the first wood, for it was he who initiated the idea and for a considerable period worked strenuously to bring into being this much needed amenity.
    Later the negotiations were passed to the society, and the committee wish to express their appreciation to Urmston Council for providing this attractive green.
    Arrangements have been made by Urmston Council for the green to be run by the Humphrey Park Community Association and this should provide means for close cooperation of all organisations in the district.
    The society wishes the community association the utmost success in this new venture.

Unfortunately, Mr Clegg, president of Humphrey Park Community Association, was in poor health when he officially opened the bowling green. He died later the same evening, aged 79. His death came "as a great shock to all members of the association". A cup, known as Clegg's Cup, is competed for each year in June in his memory.

The Humphrey Park & District Bowling Club was formed in 1950 and it is assumed that they took over the running of the bowling green at this time. 
The Ladies Bowling Club was formed in 1951.
 
Over the years, many community groups benefited from the wide range of activities held at the community centre.
 
Children's Christmas Party 1949
 
The Old Folks Club about 1949
 
In 1959, discussions began between Humphrey Park District Community Association and Urban District Council of Urmston regarding the building of a new community centre. Over the next few years a least two different layouts were considered and estimates in the region of £7,000 to £8,250 were obtained. The original community centre was demolished and rebuilt in 1962. It opened on 5th January 1963.

Community Centre Plans 1962
(Click to enlarge)
 
Urmston County Express and News-Telegraph, Thursday January 10, 1963:
Humphrey Park Centre Opened. 
    "Normal service resumed" was the message broadcast by officials of Humphrey Park Community Association this week following the opening of their rebuilt £7000 headquarters in Humphrey Lane by the Chairman of Urmston Council, Councillor Mrs. R. V. Royle-Higginson, on Saturday (5th January 1963). For after months of waiting for their old headquarters to be demolished and rebuilt on palatial lines, the 400 members have been without facilities. Now every section and organisation that use the community centre are making plans to extend their activities and to utilise the new building to its best advantage. 
    On Saturday, when the Chairman of the Council conducted the opening ceremony, she told the packed hall that she could remember when during her visits to the centre there had been buckets spaced about the hall to catch the drips from the ceiling, when it was raining. 
    In the new building which replaces a ramshackled hut, there will be a large hall that can be split into two sections by a partition. There is also a smaller room which can be used for committee meetings, a spacious kitchen, and plenty of storage space.

At the top of pages 2 and 4 of the paper in which this article appeared, the date was mistakenly printed as January 10, 1962. Over the years that followed, this has led some people to believe that the centre was opened a year earlier, which of course was not the case. 

The article above gives a good indication as to why the original community centre was demolished. In addition to this, it is well known that many ground level air raid shelters were built using a soft lime mortar due to a lack of cement at the time. Perhaps this reduced the possible lifespan of the original building and explains why it could not have been renovated.

 In 1967, a small extension was built onto the store room next to the kitchen and this became the annexe.

The Community Centre in 1974
 
 
A full rewire, with new heating and lighting, was carried out in 2011, followed by alterations to ensure DDA compliance.

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