BABBACOMBE CRICKET CLUB
Although the present Babbacombe Cricket Club is known to have been established in 1893, records show that Babbacombe had its own club as far back as 1885, holding both 1st and 2nd X1 fixtures that season against Torre Blues, St Johns c.c, Victoria C C, and Plainmoor Juniors. The Club ceased playing during 1889. having just played one fixture, but reasons for this sudden demise remain a mystery. However the Club re – formed during 1893 following a break of almost 5 years.
During the years 1893 to 1895, the Club played cricket at the Walls Hill Ground sharing it with Tor Abbey C.C and Plainmoor Victorians, but became the sole occupants of that site when Tor Abbey C.C disbanded and Plainmoor Victorians moved to Plainmoor Park. In 1902 permission was granted by Torquay Town Council, to form the Walls Hill Ground in the valley, now affectionately known by some as the “Babbacombe Bowl”, where it has continued to play its cricket to this present day.
In 1912, the Club acquired a new pavilion, which had previously been used by the Torquay Ladies Hockey Club at Plainmoor. This was transferred to Walls Hill where it stood largely unaltered until 1928, when a lean – to was added for the serving of refreshments.
Cricket continued “on the Hill” until the outbreak or World War 2, and in 1942 use of the pitch was transferred to the R.A.F, who were based at a converted forces hospital at the Palace Hotel. The R.A.F had use of the ground until the 1946 season.
With the arrival of the 1960s, the Club probably made its most significant decision with the proposal in 1961, finally confirmed in 1964, to the construction of a new pavilion. Fundraising in earnest then started and by the end of the 1970 season, the Club considered it had raised enough money for work to start on the new pavilion.
The new clubhouse was opened by Councillor Foster in July 1971, and provided for 2 changing rooms, showers, and a tea room which doubles as a bar. In 1976 the Club made arrangements with Torbay Council, to have the existing car park for use by its players and members, and 2 years later a further expansion of the clubhouse was planned to provide a larger social area, with the building of a second storey in which to house the bar. At this time also, a substantial amount of work was carried out on the pitch, where some 100 tons of rocks were removed from the far bank in an effort to reduce the slope!
Moving into the 1980s saw the 3rd and so far final building phase of the pavilion.in 1983 the clubhouse was extended by about 30 feet to provide a skittle alley upstairs, larger changing rooms and a purpose built score box room downstairs. An all – weather pitch was laid in 1985 and a new bar installed in 1990, making the clubhouse one of the finest in the county.
The Club is a member of the Tolchards Devon Cricket League and therefore play amateur League cricket on Saturdays from April to September, with some mid – week evening Cup competition T20 games, and other friendly games against local non - League sides and touring sides, as can be arranged each season.
In 2015, after an absence of nearly 20 years, the Club re-introduced competitive junior cricket at Walls Hill, as we entered an Under 13 team into the South Devon Youth Cricket League. This followed a 3 year plan in 2012 to encourage and recruit young players through links with local primary schools, driven with great drive and enthusiasm by Paul Bates.
In December 2018, the Club enjoyed a very well attended 125th year celebratory Dinner at the Babbacombe Hotel, with guest speaker David Graveney OBE, and comedian Tank Sherman.
The development of Junior Cricket at the Club has been an extremely positive step and in 2019 it was immensely pleasing to see several of our young players making the transition to senior cricket, representing the Club in 1st, 2nd and 3rd X1s. The ongoing support of parents and kit sponsorship from local business Premier Park Ltd is a huge help to the Club in maintaining and hopefully developing Youth Cricket at Babbacombe in future years.
So, as we look ahead, the Club has a clear plan to maintain Club Cricket in the Devon Cricket League at the best possible level, hopefully back to 1st X1 cricket in the B Division within 4 years, thereby continuing to provide a wide range of opportunities for players of all ages and abilities to enjoy their cricket at Babbacombe.
To these ends, in 2020, our 1st X1 will be playing in the Devon Cricket League D Division West, our 2nd X1 in F Division West. Our 3rd X1, started 2 years ago, specifically and only with the aim of providing an introduction to senior League cricket for our young players who are ready, alongside senior players no longer wanting to play at a higher more competitive level, will continue to play in the H Division West. We also plan to have an U13s and U15s teams again playing local Youth Cricket in 2020.