Miller-Mundy Provides Recreational Facility
When walking around parts of Mapperley village it is very easy to see Heanor Church and Town Ground less than three miles away. It is easily identifiable on most days but during the evenings when there is a floodlit football match being played the view can resemble a distant small airport or maybe high security prison.
However, there is a strong historical connection from the Heanor Town Ground to the occupants of Shipley Hall as it was in 1889 that Edward Miller-Mundy “arranged for four and a half acres of land to be set aside for the purpose of recreation of the people of Heanor”. It is fair to say that many of the population may have been in his direct or indirect employ and many others worked under the ground, but not under Shipley Hall.
It is not known if it was solely his vision that people needed recreation but it turned out to be a lasting legacy and over the years the ground has been the backdrop for many local memorable events.
There were many sporting teams in Heanor but the Town Ground united the use for cricket and football. The first cricket game was in May 1890. It was also the venue that year for Heanor Fete and Carnival and this continued into the 1980’s.
To help with keeping the grass down in the early years sheep grazing continued for at least twenty years. Buildings were added for a pavilion and for meeting rooms and within a few years the list of activities grew. There was a gymnasium in the original pavilion (demolished in 1960’s) and the inside buildings were used for schooling, dancing, meetings, music and private parties for a small fee as well as being the changing rooms for sporting teams. Outside the sports of bowls, hockey, cycling, running, lawn tennis (11 courts), hard court tennis and rifle shooting on a permanent range have taken place. Outdoor Band concerts were regular and military use also occurred during both World Wars.
The ground became under the control of the local council in the early 1900’s but it was Miller-Mundy who made the stipulation that the ground would always be for recreation and was not to be built upon. He was president of Heanor Cricket and Football Club for many years. The benefits of sport were well recognised at the time and interest in cricket was booming. Many hundreds of people attended local games.
When the Town Ground was laid out it was surrounded by allotment gardens but during the 1920’s and 30’s these areas became housing.
Shipley Hall Cricket Club on the lower slopes of the Heanor side of Shipley Hall itself was founded in 1899 and later a tennis club was added adjacent to it. A history of Shipley Hall CC has been written by Simon Lacey and is available in local libraries. This is an excellent read and gives many local details and should form part of a separate article.
A cricket ground was also in place in Mapperley in the early 1900’s again with the help of Edward Miller-Mundy and was on land adjacent to the Lodge that bears his initials. The recreation ground was much later used for cricket.
It was not unusual for local cricketers to play for all three of these teams at some point and probably in the same season in the early days.
There is a reference in the Heanor Observer of May 1910 that S. Hart of Mapperley made his debut for Heanor as a bowler and bowled 7 overs and took 3 wickets for 3 runs.