THE CAR PARK

OVERVIEW

When the club was started up in the mid 1950’s the car park entrance was then very narrow and without a gate.  The car park area itself was very small, in fact it was really just the road leading into the grounds from the park which was just compressed soil which turned to liquid mud in wet weather, then during the winter froze into ruts. However it served its purpose for many years with the few cars using it, which were about 5 at the maximum. The area that was to become our car park was overgrown with bramble bushes and small saplings at this time.

During the 1960’s and 70’s there was little or no change made to the entrance and car park layout, as the memberships levels stayed fairly constant, but then in the early 1980’s the club started to expand, and as its membership rose so did the number of cars, resulting in the need for a larger car park.

How could this be achieved?

Well as usual several members took things in hand and looked at the available land and measured the space available, to determine how to accommodate between 10 and 12 family cars. The conclusion was that to fit the cars in, the entrance to the field would need to be widened and the turning area on the clubs side of the entrance would have to be expanded. This meant several small trees and a few bushes would need to be removed and a retaining wall would have to be built to accommodate the expansion of the turning area.

The retaining wall it was decided could be a dry stone wall, that would be a couple of feet high closest to the entrance increasing to about 5 feet at the far end, it would also need to be about 3 feet further out from the existing track at the entrance end and about 10 feet at the other end. The space behind the new wall would then need to be backfilled and brought up to the level of the original car park, so that cars had the room to swing around to get in and out. 

The dry stone wall was built out of old broken pavement flags, donated to the club by the members, and old broken grave stones from a local deconsecrated church, that were given to the club by the council. The backfill was made up of the same material, only broken up in to smaller bits. Clive Stewart-Milner was the primary builder of the wall, as he had experience of building dry stone walls, he was helped by John Shenton and several other willing members who laboured for him.

The surface of the car park has always been subject to wear and tear, and with the number and frequency of cars now using it the surface had to be improved. In the late 1980’s this was done by John Shenton painstakingly laying house bricks in a herring bone design over the most frequently used areas, but with the number of cars using the car park the bricks started to crumble and move after a few years, so a better solution was required.

In the early 1990’s enquires were made to the council about surface materials the club could use, this led us to the information that the council had an obligation of supplying to the local tax payers and worthy causes, on request, a percentage of the total tarmac surface material which was removed mechanically by the huge road strippers when roads were being resurfaced, and as a none profit sports club within the councils area we qualified. These scrapings, as they are called, where not free, even though we qualified we still had to pay, which was somewhere in the region of £50 for 25 tonnes.

The result was that one Saturday morning by arrangement the club received the delivery of twenty five tonnes of steaming hot road scrapings in the carry section of an enormous tipper truck which had to negotiate the narrow park gate and then our own narrow field entry gate which the driver did with an incredible display of driving skills. He dropped the load in the centre of the car park in one huge heap saying that we had about one hour to spread the chipping out before the mass of it started to set solid. Some of the members who helped spread the scrapings that day included Clive Stewart-Milner, John Shenton, Terry Gregory and Frank Smith, though there were undoubtedly others, but theirs names cannot be recalled.

All set too, and all grafted for the next several hours, moving and spreading the material out across our cars park using wheel barrows and rakes, a very hard job.

The result of all this hard work was a more stable and resilient car park surface, which lasted a good decade before we needed to look at again.

This was in the early 2000’s when the clubs membership was again growing, which meant the car park also needed to be expanded. As we had done a decade earlier we contacted the council to arrange for a truck load of scrapings to be delivered to the club when they were available. The council confirmed we could have more scrapings when any major road works were being done in the local area. Besides paying a nominal fee for the load the only drawback was that it would be at very short notice.

True to their word we were notified on a Friday that work was being done to the roads in the area and that the scrapings we had asked for would be delivered to us the next day, Saturday morning.

It was a rush to get volunteers to help out and as usual only a few members were available at such short notice.

The truck arrived at the club early Saturday morning and again the driver skilfully negotiated both the narrow park gate as well as the club gate. Amongst the helpers that morning was Fiona Milner, who put a double row of bricks into place where the entrance road joined the car park, once the truck had gone, to give the spreaders a line to stop at, she then got stuck in and helped along with everyone else who turned up. This time a lot of the scrapings were used to extend the car park further along the boundary wall to the rear of the existing car park, though a reasonable percentage was also used to repair the worst trafficked areas in the existing car park area. The work took most of the morning and the spreaders this time included Clive Stewart-Milner, Terry Gregory, David Hankinson, Ken Clough, Brian Owens, Lee Clarkson, Jason Prince and probably a few others too.

A couple of hours after the truck had departed and the heap was slowly going down the same truck and driver returned with another twenty five ton load, he had seen the area that we were hoping to cover and had decided, without our knowledge, that we would require more scrapings to do the job properly.

The driver was right we did need it, however that new load required another three hours work to be completed by our now knackered shovellers, barrow wheelers and spreaders. 

The driver was given £10 pounds as a thank you for his help and the additional load.

Around 2010, give or take a year, it was decided to extend the car park again, this time however instead of going further into the grounds along the boundary wall, it was decided to try and reclaim the small plot of land just to the left of the club entrance. This area was filled with small bushes and weeds and was a good 12 inches lower than the adjoining car park. It also had a line of trees dividing it off from the main area, so access to it would not be easy, but it was possible if members parked sensibly, something that does not always happen unfortunately.

As usual the work was planned for a Saturday and club members asked to volunteer. On the day the turn out consisted of about 15 or so members, including the following, but as usual some names/faces cannot be recalled. Clive Stewart-Milner, Terry Gregory, Neil Foden, Brian Owens, David Hankinson, Lee Clarkson, Jason Prince, Robert Cheetham.

The area was first cleared of weeds, then the bushes were cut down and removed and then the hard work started. Rocks, stones, flags and general rubble had been donated by the members over the preceding weeks leading up to the big day, and this was now used to form a low bund wall, behind the conifer fence, to the front edge of the area and the rest was slowly and painstaking laid across the area to raise it up to a level equal with the existing car park. Once this was done it was topped off by spreading earth and sand over the rubble to cap it and give a surface that could be driven on. One of the members even volunteered to drive their car over it to both test its stability and to help compact it all. Very much to everyone’s relief the structure held and the car made it safely off and back on to the main carpark.

 

 

The next change to the car park was during the winter of 2015/16 when the club had extensive ground works done, after applying for and being awarded a grant by Sports England. Part of the grant works involved removing the existing stone wall and replacing it with a Gabion wall, which would be slightly higher and longer than the one it was replacing, it would also be aligned to the shooting lanes of the field, the old wall had several curves and bends in it. The wall would also be extended, by using reclaimed paving slabs stood vertically and infilled with concrete, to form an edge to the access road, which was also improved by levelling it and creating a larger entrance to the club grounds. Because of these improvements the turning area was enlarged too, which allowed several dedicated disabled parking spots to be created. This whole area, together with the access road was then re-laid and finished off with a topping of tarmac. The walls were also finished off with a knee rail fence which we now use to hang shields of the coat of arms of all the towns within Tameside on when there is a special event on at the club. The shields were all made by Paul Carney and done at his own expense.

 

 

THE WELL IN THE CAR PARK

Did you know that there is a well in our car park?

It was found by accident during the late 1980’s by John Shenton, when the area chosen for the new car park expansion was being marked out and cleared of all the small trees, mounds of rubble and fallen wood.

While cleaning away the debris John came across a large flat rectangular stone slab, which we all assumed had been dumped there at some stage in the dim and distant past. John, being a keen gardener of sorts, asked if he could have it for use in his own garden, if it was going for free. The reply came back yes, help yourself. So John started to try to lift it by himself, but it proved far too heavy for one man. It was now a challenge for us all to lift it out of the way using picks, shovels, crow bars, and anything to hand that would move it. Eventually those present which were John Shenton, Clive Stewart-Milner, Terry Gregory & Neil Foden, managed to move and it, and very nearly fell down the well opening when we did, because we just weren’t expecting such a thing. We could not see the bottom so a stone was dropped down, this took several seconds before we heard a splash. It didn’t take too much time to work out that we had better apply a little common sense and put the flag back, which we did very carefully, lowering it back into position and thoroughly checked to make sure that the well was covered. The stone is still there today covering the well, and the vast majority of the members are not even aware of it or that several of them park their cars over it.

See if you can spot it next time you are there.

 

 

 

TREE MOUNTED REFLECTIVE STRIPS IN THE CAR PARK

The property and personal safety of club members has always been a primary concern at Stalybridge AC.

The club has always made sure that if a safety problem is identified the club will endeavour to correct that problem promptly.

One such problem was the increase in the number of cars using the car park and those same cars having to move around each other and the large trees that dot the car park. The trees all have preservation orders on them so as the car park has expanded we have had to do it around the trees.

In daylight the parking of cars is quite easy for you can clearly see the trees, however this is not the case when it gets dark. Observing the trees when trying to manoeuvre using your rear or side mirrors, which on modern cars can mean looking out of tinted windows, in the dark can be very confusing, the bark of the trees tends to blend into the dark making them very hard to spot. This has led to several bumps when a tree has suddenly materialised out of the gloom.

To try and avoid any more such accidents and to generally make the club safer for its members and visitors to park their cars, a solution had to be found and one that did not involve damaging the trees or costing a small fortune.

The solution to the problem was suggested by Terry Gregory, and his answer was to fit each of the trees that could cause a problem with its own Hi-Vis reflective strip. After discussions the committee approved the idea and agreed to cover the cost of the materials. Terry then sourced the reflective materials from a local Morrison's store. They were originally sold as Hi-Vis jackets. These jackets had to be reworked before they would suit our purposes. This was done by a shop in Stalybridge called “SEW IT ALL”. They cut up the jackets and then re sewed the bits into strips, the length of each being custom made to fit a particular tree.

For security all the Hi-Vis strips were fitted with two small diameter high tensile steel wires one at the top of the strip and the other at the bottom, the wire was sourced from the same company that supplied the cables for our field net system.

Each completed reflective strip, with the security wires was then placed around its designated tree and clamped into position, the strips were also secured to the wires with Ty-raps for extra security.

You still have to be careful when reversing in the car park, especially from the far end, but thanks to the Hi-Vis tree jackets there have been no more bumps.