Barton Hill RFC History

Barton Hill Old Boys RFC, a brief history. Barton Hill School’s Mr W. E. R. Harris founded Barton Hill Old Boys RFC in 1908. He was born 1875 and went by the nicknames 'Billy' and 'Tubby' He was a Teacher at Barton Hill School between 1908 and 1935. His subjects were History and Sports. He founded the Barton Hill School Old boys Rugby Football Club (1908) Barton Hill Swimming Club and Barton Hill Water Polo Club. He retired from Barton Hill School in 1935 and died some time around 1948. If anyone can fill us in with any details of this ex Barton Hill man who did so much for the youth of the area please let us know Mr Harris considered that the Barton Hill district of Bristol was short of activities for young men and men to do in this poor, working class neighbourhood. He decided he would try to provide sport in the neighbourhood. So he founded the Rugby Club. He also founded the Water Polo Club using the local swimming baths. Eventually the Water Polo fell away but the Rugby Club has continued until the present day.

Although some of the Club’s history has been lost we do know that during the 1920’s the 1st team was known as ‘The Old Invincibles’ and played in front of crowds of thousands. They changed in a Café, which was situated under the 13 Arches railway viaduct, which spanned across what is now Tesco’s. They played at Eastville Park, which was opposite the Café The Second World War came and of course the Club didn’t play during those years. The Club restarted in 1946 thanks to a Man called Les Davey, ‘A real Bart’s man’. It was he who managed to revive the Club. It was time to play at a new ground at Stoke Lodge, Stoke Bishop. The Club changed in an old Nissan hut on the ground. Barts stayed there for 12 years. “In the late 50s, most of the lads that had fought in the war left the Club at the same time. This left the Club desperate for players, in fact after a general meeting, the club disbanded. In the week that followed, Les Fynne secretary of Dings gave me a list of players who might be interested in joining us only one came Terry Buckingham, Spud Murphy sports writer in the Pink-Un, gave me a few names, University student Alan Lill, old players of Horfield Athletic, John Sullivan and Terry Derby, all agreed to join us. We decided to forge on, missing just one fixture. We started with a win over old Patchwegians 8-5 and have never looked back.” said Allen Coster. Allen, himself a stalwart of the Club, Club Captain, Scrum Half and Treasurer for many years The Club had to move from Stoke Lodge in 1958 and moved to Hanham Folk Centre Cricket Ground.

The ground was good but washing facilities were 4 bungalow baths so it was a question of hands and face first, feet and legs after. Very basic! I It was at the Cricket Ground in Hanham that the Club celebrated their 50th Anniversary year. The Club played a celebration match against a Combination XV on the Annex of the Memorial ground and that evening had a celebration dinner at the Glasshouse Hotel, Lawrence Hill. A special mention must be made to Mr. Fred Pascoe who was Treasurer of the Club for 27years and was President for some years. He was a real stalwart and a fantastic workhorse for the Club. Unfortunately the Club had to move off the cricket field. They searched for a new ground in the early 60’sand came across the Chapel in Castle Farm Road, Hanham. The purchase price for the old Methodist Chapel was £150 purchased from Broadmead Radio. Members worked to put in a boiler, bath, toilets and soakaway. They re-roofed the chapel and toilets, erecting partitions for changing facilities. The Gough brothers owned the ground opposite which we rented, shortly after we had 2 pitches and were running a 3rd XVs team. The pitches were leased for £160 in the first year and the Club used to sell the grass keep. After a few years the fields were sold for building.

The Club then played on pitches below Hanham hills and stayed there for several years while still using the Chapel. In 1978 the Chapel was compulsory purchased by the council who wanted to widen the road for £7800. Using this ‘windfall’ it was decided that a new permanent home was needed. It moved to its present home in Duncombe Lane, Speedwell in 1978, using the school changing rooms until a Clubhouse was built in 1981. The Club’s players, up until 1958 when leaving the Stoke Lodge ground, rarely went for drinks after the game except when they played away from home. Once the Club moved to the Chapel in Hanham, the Pubs used for ‘refreshments’ and entertaining the opposition were: The Lord Raglan - St George Elmtree, Hanham White Swan, Hanham The Bull, Crews Hole Road The Maypole, Hanham It moved into the Club’s own brand new Clubhouse, finally, in 1981 at Duncombe Lane, Speedwell. An extension to the Clubhouse was built in 1987. The Club joined the league when league’s first started. 2008 saw the Centenary year for the Club. It is obviously something we are all very proud of. One hundred years of rugby football. I think Billy Harris would be amazed and delighted to see something he started, last for so long. I believe he would be delighted to know how well the Club has done over the years and how well placed the Club is for the next hundred years. Contributions from: Allen Coster and Gordon Allen. If you can contribute to the history of the Club then please do! The Committee