The shooting field originally did not have a gate, just an opening between the bushes that formed the boundary to the grounds, therefore access although narrow was easy, both for vehicles and the general public and other less welcome visitors.
There seems to have been a couple of gates added at some point during the 1960’s, these being a normal garden gate, presumably for personal access, as well as a rustic timber pole gate across the access road, as they are both clearly visible on one of the archive photos taken at that time. Whether this was the early 1960’s or the late 1960’s is impossible to say as the gates do not appear on any of the other photos from the time, and certainly do not appear on any from the 1970’s. We therefore assume that both gates quickly fell into disrepair and were removed.
It wasn’t until the late 1980’s and the increasing popularity of the sport, which was caused both by the Barcelona Olympics (Remember the caldron being lit by the archer shooting the arrow (Watch here) and Simon Terry Winning the individual Bronze medal together with another Bronze medal in the team event along with Richard Priestman and Steve Hallard? ) and the Rambo films that were popular at the time, that increasing numbers of passer byes started to appear at our entrance and wander into the grounds. It quickly became apparent that we had to do something to stop these members of the public, both to protect our member’s equipment against being handled or stolen and to protect theirs and the public’s safety.
Tameside council, our landlords were approached and asked if we could put a gate up at the entrance to our grounds? There reply was “yes, by all means, put up a gate” but do not expect us to do it or pay for it.
Our first gate was a simple scaffolding pole which was drawn across the club entry road. The single pole was slotted through two gate posts, made of two four foot upright scaffolding poles each set about six inches apart, on two horizontal rollers also made out of scaffolding pole. The posts were all cut to size, bolted together and then erected in place by casting them into concrete, one each side of the entrance road. To open the gate the pole was simply drawn open to the left (As seen from the club side) and rested on the ground behind the hedge.
At the same time a fence was also built using rustic poles. This was erected along the side of the entrance road to block access to the field waiting area. All this was manufactured in house by the usual crew of Clive Stewart-Milner, Terry Gregory, John Shenton, Neil Foden and David Littlejohn.
The gate and fence looked good and blended well in to the surroundings, but over time just having a pole for a gate proved to be ineffective and the fence was to fragile, the timbers started to rot and became loose from small children standing on the bottom rail to try and peer over the top. The day to day abuse it received meant that after a couple of years it became too damaged and rotted and needed to be replaced.
After the rustic timber fence was removed we contemplated our options for several months before we finally decided on installing a traditional farm gate, made of light gauge galvanised steel, which we sourced from a farm equipment supplier in Hyde, which unfortunately is no longer there.
The gate was paid for out of the clubs funds, following the approval of the committee.
Before the gate could be erected however, we first had to install a more suitable gate post to hang it from.
For this we used an ex GPO (General Post Office) Telephone post which we obtained free from a horse riding school in Charlesworth. The school was happy for us to have a pole, but we would have to go to the school, select a pole and transport it back to the club ourselves. As a thank you to the school for allowing us to do this we made a small donation of £10 as a sign of our gratitude.
The riding school used the poles to construct fences and barricades of varying height for the horses to jump over.
Clive Stewart-Milner and Terry Gregory undertook the job of obtaining the pole. The riding school had just taken receipt of dozens of poles, all of which had been dumped higgledy piggledy in one of their fields by the then GPO.
Clive and Terry took quite a while looking at all the poles scattered about the field before selecting one in good condition, unfortunately the pole they picked was underneath several more poles and they spent several hours moving these out of the way before they could get to their chosen one. You have to remember these poles are about 10 to 12 inches in diameter and about 40 feet long, so they are very heavy.
Once they had reached their pole they then had to cut a 10 foot length off of it using a hand rip saw. As you can imagine this took them a considerable amount of time to do.
The next stage of their epic quest was to move the 10 foot length of pole across the field to Clive’s car, which was just a standard family 5 door hatchback. Besides being very heavy, the pole was also awkward to move, and as they both later said “It dammed near killed both of us moving it across the field into his car”.
Having lowered the back of the front seat and folded forward the split rear seat, they carefully slid the pole into the car. Even with the pole in as far as they could get it, it still stuck out the back by several feet, and the car suspension was fully flattened out.
So after six hours of really hard work they arrived back at the club, thanking their lucky stars that the police had not seen them on their return journey.
Cliff Lewis volunteered to dig the hole required to put the pole in, which he did by hand down to a depth of approximately 5 feet. The pole was then man handled into the hole by Cliff, Clive & Terry and the hole backfilled with concrete, which was mixed on site.
To finish off the top of the post, and to protect the timber from the rain where it had been cut, an old sauce pan lid, which was minding its own business in the kitchen was recycled and used to cap off the pole.
Once the concrete had hardened and the post was secure the brackets for the new gate were hammered into position and the new gate hung in place.
This gate served the club well for about 20 year, but even though it was regularly painted it began to deteriorate, so a replacement had to be found.
In 2012 the club treasurer, Neil Foden, noticed that over grown in one of the hedges bordering the premises of the company he was working for at the time (SWF Consulting Ltd) in Poynton, was a steel gate, which looked to be just the right size to fit the clubs entrance.
Neil checked out the condition of the gate and measured it up, then checked these dimensions at the club and found that it was by coincidence just the size required.
He approached the director of the company and inquired if it would be possible for the club to have the gate. The director informed Neil that if he could arrange for someone to collect it then the club was very welcome to it.
It was now up to the club members to transport the gate back to the club.
It took another year before the gate was finally moved back to the club, which was done by using Brendan Thackeray’s works truck, along with the help of several club members who were needed to help cut it out of the hedge and then lift it on to the truck. The gate was very heavy, being made from sections of 75x75x5.RSA welded together.
Before the gate could be installed it had to be fully cleaned of rust and debris and repainted with green hammer right paint, all of which was done by Terry Gregory over a number of weeks. The gate was finally hung back onto the existing GPO gate post at March of 2014 during the annual maintenance weekend.
It soon became apparent that the gates weight was more than the existing post could cope with as slowly pulled the post out of position. This was alleviated to some extent by the gate having a steel roller wheel on the end, which ran over the ground, however this slowly over time started to form a rut in the entrance road. The excess movement was taken up on the hinges several times but this usually only eased the problem for a few weeks at most.
We realised that we would need to do something soon, as it was becoming difficult for several members to open.
It was around this time that the club started looking at applying for a grant to install a toilet block on the site. We were quickly advised that if we were applying for a grant we may as well go for the maximum allowed and have other improvements done to the clubs ground. It was obvious that one of these improvements should be a new gate.
The process of applying for the grant took about a year, with us seeking advice on how to complete the form, gaining planning permission from the local council and obtaining tenders from several building companies for the works.
We were awarded the Sports England grant back in 2015 and the works commenced in December of that year.
The new gate that was installed was on roller bearings and slid open along the new rear line paladin fence. Compared to our previous gates this was a monster, being some eight feet tall and about twenty feet long (The entrance was widened as part of the improvements as well).