RADYR CRICKET CLUB PAVILION EXTENSION – CASE STUDY
COUNTY BOARD – WALES
SOUTH EAST WALES CRICKET LEAGUE & SOUTH WEST WOMENS REGIONAL LEAGUE
Radyr CC first started playing on its current ground in 1908 with a minimal fixture and membership list and have developed into a club which has five senior league sides, a hard ball Womens team, numerous junior sides and a soft ball ladies section. The current club house was built in the early 1970’s following a fire which destroyed the wooden pavilion, that had been in situ since the club started playing at the Riverside ground. It contained only two changing rooms, as at that time, that was the number of sides the club ran. With the development of a fledgling third XI, who were for a time, somewhat nomadic, the adjoining land was developed into a second ground. Basic changing facilities were constructed, followed by a fourth XI but it was clear that this breeze block hut was not a long term solution. The dream was for an extension that would house all four of the sides who played at Radyr.
Whilst the official start date of the project was August 2019, thoughts had turned to providing facilities a number of years before that date. In early 2015 an architect was commissioned to produce a design, which would meet the requirements of the ECB and Cricket Wales for two changing rooms, umpires facilities and a disabled toilet. A planning application was submitted and in August of that year permission was granted: fingers were crossed as the club had speculated £1,000. The hard work now began to find the various streams of funding required to make the dream a reality. The project team estimated that the cost would be £120,000 and this had to be raised to ensure the seed corn was not wasted. In November 2018, after a great many discussions, Cricket Wales confirmed that a grant of £60,000 would be forthcoming: the downside being the club needed to replicate that sum. So almost four years after pushing the button on the project, there was light at the end of the tunnel. The Community Council, the club and its members plus a loan from the ECB meant that as the 2019 season came to an end the diggers were poised.
During this period two sub committees were formed: one to oversee the detailed design and construction side and the other to look after fund raising and its administration: these were invaluable and sat throughout the whole of the process. The club members were kept involved and presentations were given by the project team at fairly regular intervals and the search for funding never stopped. Also the pre contract requirements of Building Control seemed endless, though after some lengthy negotiations the club was given the green light. The start date arrived and with very little fanfare the next phase of this project began.
THE EARLY BUILDING PHASE – THE THREE BIG CHALLENGES
The early part of the project proceeded better than expected: the ground workers made excellent progress and the foundations were almost complete by September. The walls started to appear and it was thought the extension would definitely be completed before the start of the 2020 season: the excitement within the club was palpable. Slowly but surely the walls were followed by the scaffolding but as autumn became winter the club was hit by its first major challenge.
At the back of the clubhouse was an electricity substation on a wooden pole which had been in place for a number of years, but which according to its owner, Western Power, was too close to the scaffolding. Meetings took place and the prognosis was gloomy: the substation had to be moved. It did seem that the project could be permanently derailed. Eventually an agreement was reached, with Western Power who were as amenable as they could be in the circumstances. However it meant a cost to the club that left the budget in a pretty precarious state, until the ECB appeared with a second grant, of £12,500. Never was a cricket club so thankful for the foresight and generosity of its governing body. The wayleave agreement took some time to complete but finally the trenches for the electricity cables could be dug and the substation moved: whilst this delay had cost the project almost four months, it was moving again.
Then the second big challenge. Early morning on February 16, 2020 Storm Dennis caused the banks of the River Taff to burst and the whole ground, of almost fourteen acres, was covered by up to four feet of water: amazingly the existing clubhouse and the half built extension suffered only minor damage, as it sits slightly higher than the rest of the land. Over the next day or so the water receded leaving a thick layer of mud sitting across large parts of the ground: this had to be removed. Immediately members rallied round, along with those of other clubs, and plans were put in place to get cricket played that summer: the cry was the club has seventy days to save its season. As time progressed it became clear that this flood had the potential to finish the club, as the tsunami that struck was unlike anything seen before at Radyr. Again there was a desperate cry for funds, and whilst the insurers were as generous as they could be, and other private donations were received, the club was in an impossible financial situation. Again the ECB came to the rescue with a third grant of £17,250, approved and paid less than three weeks after the flood. This meant that for a couple of months, the works on the extension, understandably, had to be put on hold for a second time.
In Wales it is said everything comes in threes and this project proved the old adage was correct. Within a month of the flood and the beginning of the clear up, the world was faced with the Covid pandemic. This meant that the works on restoring the ground were hugely disrupted due to the lockdown, whilst the extension works ceased, primarily because supplies of materials were impossible to source. Slowly but surely it became clear that the cricket season was going to be seriously affected and the pressure, to a certain extent, was off on completing the extension and the ground repairs. As the situation eased, contractors re-appeared and the roof covering started to take shape in late April and by mid May the building was wind and watertight. The rendering followed and by the time cricket was allowed again, some ten months after the project had started, the structure was in place. Now it was the turn of the internals.
As July came to an end a big day occurred, with the joining of the old and new by means of an entrance being created from the existing lounge to the extension. From that day on every visit saw movement, sometimes a lot, with the high point being when there were thirteen vans in the car park, representing every trade under the sun. The nervousness of the previous months was slowly abating as people were learning to live with Covid and sensible precautions were taken by the club to allow progress to continue. As the 2020 truncated season ended the internal shape of the extension became clear, as carpenters and plasterers were followed by painters. Club members leant a hand and in late November the electrics went live, which allowed the sliding doors to become operational. The only worry now was running out of money and the project manager was for ever holding back on requests for this and that. As Christmas arrived all the previous pain seemed to disappear with the lights on, the painting complete and the belief that the journey was just about over.
The new year saw snow fall at the club but the fit out works continued. The final plumbing arrived in January, quickly followed by the carpenter putting together the benches in the changing rooms. A buzz of anticipation began as at long last the members could envisage changing in these wonderful facilities. The floor coverings were laid, the final painting was completed, the showers worked and the finished product took the breath away: Radyr CC were the owners of some of the best facilities in South Wales.
So when will it be finished was the constant cry: be patient was the answer. The budget was, by good management, holding up and there was enough to finish off the final external works and the longed for patio. That started after the snow disappeared and by mid March this final piece of the jigsaw was in place. The records say that the project was signed off in April, 2021, some twenty months after the start, but the team were adding this and that throughout the summer, to ensure the product was simply the best. For those who have lived with this project since 2015 the finale brought a tear to the eye and the belief that this was a job well done and one that they can be truly proud of.
Christopher Hitchings – Chairman Radyr Cricket Club
“This project has been the culmination of work that I and various members of the club have been involved in for over a decade. It has helped transform the playing facilities at Radyr and today sees us stand alongside the best cricket clubs in South Wales. Throughout all of these works the ECB and Cricket Wales have been there, helping us not just with good advice, but also grant funding, without which, none of this would have been possible. Even before the extension project outlined above, the club received funding towards the permanent net facility and the refurbishment of the kitchen facilities. It has been a partnership and hopefully that will continue for many years to come.
Through the efforts of Neil Higginson (ECB) and Mark White (CW) the extension project has improved the club’s overall facilities substantially. The layout of the pavilion now allows changing facilities for two games to be isolated with obvious benefits to the club’s members. It has also allowed us to provide modern facilities for our Womens team. The calmness and urgent action of both the ECB and CW when we had the issue with Western Power and the flood helped the project to stay on track. It is not overstating things to say that without them Radyr CC might not be here today. They have my eternal thanks and that of every member of the club”
Peter Sullivan – Asset Manager Radyr Cricket Club – Project Manager of the Extension
“For me the assistance I received from Neil Higginson (ECB) in particular, especially at the start of the project, was invaluable. Not only did they help me with the myriad of claims forms but as the lockdown struck the trust they showed me and the club to deliver the project was very humbling. Neil was always at the end of the telephone to give advice, despite the issues the ECB were themselves facing. Without their help this project could have stalled many times and left Radyr CC in a very difficult position. I look forward to working with Neil again on our next project.”