Board of Trustees of the Recreation Ground, Bath
Wednesday, 6th June, 2007
History of the Recreation Ground Bath
The Recreation Ground and the North Parade Land were part of the Bathwick Estate (held by the Forester family).
Lease granted from Captain GW Forester to the Directors of The Bath and County Recreation Ground Company Limited. This allowed the company to execute such works as should render it suitable for Cricket Matches, Lawn Tennis and Archery Tournaments, Football Matches and other out-door sports (including the first Bath rugby matches on the Rec). The works included building a Pavilion (the County cricket Pavilion) on the North side of the Recreation Ground.
The first ever Somerset County Cricket festival which is also known as the Bath Cricket Festival was held. This has continuously ran more or less from 1897 to the present day.
Further lease granted to the Directors of The Bath and County Recreation Ground Company Limited for a term of 21 years at a rent of £100 per year.
Conveyance of the Recreation Land and the North Parade Land by Francis William Forester, Brinsley John Hamilton Fitzgerald and Arthur Henry Brinsley Fitzgerald (Trustees of the Settlement) to the The Bath and County Recreation Ground Company Limited for a price of £6,050. The North Parade Land then included a building which became known as "the Pavilion" which had previously been used, and was subsequently used, as an ice skating rink. The company then conveyed the North Parade Land to Bath Artcraft Limited for £2,500.
New lease granted to Bath FC for land on the West of the Recreation Ground, together with a Grand Stand, a New (North) Stand and a Pavilion, for a term of 25 years.
Bath Artcraft Limited conveyed the North Parade Land to the Mayor Aldermen and the citizens of the City of Bath (the Corporation) for a price of £4,500.
New West Stand erected (in place of the Grand Stand) on the land used by Bath FC. Furthermore, the 1927 lease was surrendered and new lease granted for a further 50 years.
Second World War (1942)
The West Stand extensively damaged by bombing during the blitz.
Rebuilding of the West Stand at a cost of more than £12,000 met by the War Damage Commission.
An agreement to erect a building called "the Club Room" to the West of the North Stand on the land used by Bath FC. A lease was also granted to James Colmer Limited for land in the North East corner of the Recreation Ground together with a Pavilion to be used for the purposes of a tennis club).
The Recreation Ground was conveyed to the Mayor Aldermen and the Citizens of the City of Bath (the Corporation) on the 1st February 1956 for £11,155.
Advice from Mr Wigglesworth of Counsel that the Recreation Ground was a charity and its purposes encompassed the provision of a leisure centre.
The 1933 lease was surrendered and a new 75 year lease granted to Bath FC.
The Recreation Ground and the North Parade Land transferred to Bath City Council.
The Sports and Leisure Centre was erected by the Bath City Council on the South side of the Recreation Ground (with an access over the North Parade Land).
Advice from Charity Commission that the Recreation Ground was not a charity.
New 75 year lease granted to Bath FC.
BANES takes over from Bath City Council
Doubts over the legal effect of the 1956 Conveyance had to be settled in 2002, when the High Court declared the land to be held on a charitable Trust (Registered Charity no. 1094519). This confirmed that the Recreation Ground was a Trust with the Council as sole Trustee and a Trust Board was established to manage the Trust's affairs.
Since the High Court decision in 2002 determined that the Recreation Ground was indeed a charitable Trust, the Charity Commission has been concerned that not all of the activities on the Recreation Ground comply with the purpose of the trust as interpreted through charity law.
The two major issues raised by the Commission were as follows. First, the legality of the leisure centre, as it does not comply strictly with the Trust's purpose which, the Commission believes, is to provide open air recreation. Secondly, the use of the Recreation Ground by Bath Rugby Club is perceived to be dominant, to the detriment of wider uses and more general access.
Therefore, the Trust agreed to undertake a Strategic Review to determine the future uses of the Recreation Ground. A significant part of this process involves consultations with the beneficiaries.