Cricket Pavilions, clubhouses and changing facilities.
This is the start of a potential photography project which links to one I've already made a start on and at the moment haven't got very far with, but this project has potentially got a bit of chance of taking off and developing. The basic premise will be that I'm exploring the socio-economics of regions and areas through the recording of the cricket facilities in said localities. It's part inspired by the work of the Dutch photographer Hans Van Der Meers work in the European Fields series of images and the work of the German photographers Bernd and Hiller Becher.
31st August. Because of the way the project has developed, I'll be re-configuring the blog. Directly below the intro here I'll record the images and some basic info including a reference number. Below the images there'll then be the details and notes relating to the more socio-economic factors and possibly notes about the photography.
In the coming weeks I'll be shooting pavilions and other structures associated with cricket, primarily the clubhouses or the changing facilities. The initial job is to collate a series of examples using whatever cameras are at hand and the light that is there at the time. If it pans out that I feel there's something about the images that is worth pursuing I'll then have to start considering how I'd then go about the making of the images in a more serious way with a view to stepping the project up a level.
At the bottom there's a spoof interview as I use this as a resource to help my photography students.
(Updated 31st Aug 2015)
001 - Southend on Sea & EMT cricket clubs Pavilion, Shoebury, Essex.
Basildon Councils 'Langdon Hills Recreation Ground' multi-function building used by Basildon & Pitsea Cricket Club, SRB cricket club and numerous football clubs in the winter.
003 Chigwell School "Fives and Heronians 4th XI ground". This wasn't the pavilion associated with the game we played, but was in the adjacent field on a different ground.
004 - Hornchurch Cricket Club 5th XI - Pitch-side changing facilities
Emerson Park School "Hornchurch 5th XI's changing facilities/pavilion. Not entirely true in that there was standard changing facilities within the actual building itself about 120 yards away, completely out of sight of the oval. Whereas this little structure which we all used for teas, changing, scoring and hanging out in whilst waiting to bat served as the 'Pavilion'. It's the case that medium sized clubs have two grounds and 4 teams that play on a Saturday. Two of the teams play on the clubs regular grounds, and the other two teams play at away venues and they rotate these venues each week. In cases where the club has a 5th XI - indication normally of a good club with lots of members, they then usually end up approaching schools as in the case of Hornchurch to access another cricket pitch. In these instances, often the changing facilities are some distance from the pitch and some temporary or alternative approach has to be sorted. In this case the schools has these structures situated adjacent to the wicket.
005 - Another pavilion/clubhouse; This one is the "Fives and Heronians" clubhouse in Chigwell, which I believe like the really traditional black and white building above is owned by The Chigwell School? Not so easy to photography and possibly one that I'd reject in the longer term because it's not that aesthetically pleasing. All of those that so far feature players, cars or other peripheral features I would need to go back and shoot again.
006 - This is the "Old Southendians 4th XI at the Victory Sports Ground, Southchurch, near Southend, Essex. I like this one - nice symmetry and traditional, albeit a bit dilapidated.
007 - Garon's Park pavilion, Southend, Essex
Garon Park cricket ground is a ground where 1st class cricket has been played in the past, so has a fairly decent semi traditional club house with an incorporated score board. To be honest considering its status and intended use it's on par with some of the village pavilions in Cornwall (See below).
Southend with it's population of 177,000 and it's size and proximity to other densely populated urban areas has a number of grounds within a 10 mile radius and as far as I'm aware this isn't the grandest or best.
Update 15th Aug 2015
Just back from the Penwith Peninsula in Cornwall (Surfing Holiday) and the chance to add some Pavilions from the area. One of the things that this project is about is socio economics and therefore we need to consider that Cornwall is the UK's poorest areas, so there may be some expectation that the pavilions and facilities might reflect this. Other factors we might consider are the populations in the vicinity of the club. Penwith is a relatively small area, extremely rural and sparsely populated. Anecdotally the key industries appear to be farming, fishing and tourism.
008 - Paul Cricket Club Pavilion, Penwith, Cornwall.
Population 234 people.
009 - Penzance Cricket Club Pavilion, Penwith, Cornwall.
010 - St Just Cricket Clubs Pavilion, St Just, Penwith, Cornwall.
011 - St Buryan Cricket Clubs Pavilion, St Buryan, Penwith, Cornwall.
012 - St Levan & Botalack Cricket Clubs Pavilion, Penwith, Cornwall.
013 - Spondon Cricket Clubs Pavilion, Derby, Derbyshire.
014 - Beech Lane Pavilion, West Hallam, Erewash, Derbyshire (White Rose CC 3rd XI Ground)
015 - Nutbrook Cricket Club, West Hallam, Erewash, Derbyshire pavilion.
018 - East Hanningfield & Great Burstead Cricket Club, Chelmsford, Essex.
019 - Basildon and Pitsea Cricket Club
020 - Bolney CC, Bolney, West Sussex
021 - Tilgate Playing field, Crawley West Sussex (Below).
This is one of the many urban/municipal types that are a feature of bigger towns and cities and they usually double up as football changing rooms. A quick scout around the web and a couple of clubs that are associated with this venue are Ram CC and St Andrew CC. Like many such places it looks as though it's subjected to vandalism as it's encased in iron bars!
022 - Gasson Road Pavilion, Bewbush, Crawley, West Sussex.
023 - East Dean CC Pavilion, near Beachy Head, West Sussex.
024 - Hawthwood Park Pavilion, Crawley, West Sussex (Below).
Population Crawley 110,000
025 - Maidenbower Pavilion - Maidenbowe, Crawley, West Sussex
Click here for the woeful story of this pavilion
028 - Leigh-On-Sea CC - Belfairs Park No.1
028 - Leigh-On-Sea CC - Belfairs Park No.2
029 - Wickfords 4th XI ground - Wickford Memorial Park Pavilion (Essex).
030 - Mistley Cricket club pavilion - North Essex
001 - Southend on Sea & and EMT's Victorian pavilion at the Garrison ground in Shoebury, Essex. 31st August. At the moment I've little on this club and will need to do more research on it, but the building itself has got to be one of the prettiest and most traditional and is the inspiration for starting the project.
The ground is situated within an old Army Garrison which has been de-commissioned and is now a private housing estate. On three sides of the pitch are the original Victorian buildings and on one side modern houses. The pavilion was built around 1875.
What's it about - what does it mean?
Well, My early experiences and memories of cricket as a kid are based on what I saw around Tilbury in Essex. Back in the late 1960's I used to see cricket being played on the 'Daisy Field' along St Chads road in Tilbury and there was a sense that cricket was different to football and it seemed really posh with the whites and the fact that where they played was cordoned off with a fence and no-one was allowed on the wicket. It may have been that there was never any rowdy Mums and Dads or fans shouting and hollering at the referee, so cricket just came across as being sedate and well-mannered in comparison with football. I think I was also aware of the fact that if you wanted to play cricket you had to have a lot of stuff, so again that seemed to make unobtainable because there was so much kit you had to buy, so the whole aura of cricket was one of it being a bit snooty and the game of people with money.
The other place I used to see cricket being played was at West Tilbury at Condovers next to the scout campsite there. Again West Tilbury to me as a kid was a posh place... little village, private houses, farms, village green, church, leafy and rural the typical image of cricket back in the 1950's and 60's I would imagine, so when the players turned up to play next to the scout camp, again it had that aura about it, polite clapping, when someone made runs or was bowled, the breaks where they came off the field and sat around drinking tea and eating sand-whiches, so for me it always seemed as it seemingly does still for many people to be steeped in class.
Then in 2006 because of an incident with one of my sons where he broke his arm we had to look for an alternative game to play and we picked cricket as he could bat with his right arm using a tennis racket. One thing led to another and I found myself at Grays and Chadwell CC trying to bowl wrist-spin!
Playing you find yourself travelling around your local area, visiting different grounds using different facilities and I started to notice that the clubs all have a basic structure and are for the most part very similar in size with regards to how many players they have and how many teams they get out at the weekend. As a student I was the treasurer of Plymouth College of Art and Design student union for three years and was in charge of their accounts and the way money was raised and spent, so have a bit of an insight as to how small organisations with voluntary memberships work and one thing struck quite quickly and that was how different the facilities at the clubs I visited were in relation to their membership and this was very much apparent in the design and structure of their club houses/pavilions. Why do clubs with very similar numbers have very different facilities, surely their income is relative to their membership - that kind of thing?
This was further reinforced when travelling around and visiting more rural areas, where there were denser populations. The comparison that kicked off the project was that of my own club Basildon and Pitsea CC based in an area with a population of over 174,500 had what I would describe as basic facilities whereas West Hallam village in Erewash in Derbyshire has a population of around 3000 and yet has two clubs of a similar size to Basildon and yet both clubs have grounds and facilities that are far better than Basildon and Pitsea. So I felt that this had the potential for a photographic project - do the pavilions reflect the local economy and other socio-economic factors? What was going on?
What influences your photography?
I think the biggest influence was a bloke I used to work with - Matt Lyndsey. I'm old enough to be his Dad and when he joined us he was only about 23 or 24 years old as I recall, but what he didn't know about German Photography and the New Topographics wasn't worth knowing. It was completely new to me, I hadn't seen any of this stuff as my education had been via a HND, so all my learning was hands on doing it rather than looking and exploring photography as an academic subject. Matts education was via a degree so he came at it from a totally different perspective. Initially, I wasn't sold on his approach, but the more I talked to him about it and the more he showed me, the more I bought into it and gradually fell in love with German photography, typologies, objectivity and the New Topographics. So the work is very much inspired by the work of people like The Bechers and Hans Van Der Meer. I've been looking at Van Der Meers "European Fields" recently and that's brilliant work and again has at the centre of it working class-ness which always floats my boat, sport and in his case landscape. Another person's whose work I really like and I'm inspired by is the Spanish photographer Xavier Ribas, especially his 'Barcelona' images and the theme of space utilisation.
The work has a definite Typology feel about it, tell us about that?
Yeah as I said one of the main influences is The Bechers see below.
I like the way that the subjects are shot in a uniform way known as a Typology, so I'm trying to do something similar. The intention is that all of the pavilions irrespective of their surroundings are shot as objectively as possible so that they're all treated with a sense of neutrality, like the Bechers a catalogue of pavilions. One of the driving forces behind the project is the fact that my involvement in cricket is short in comparison with most people but cricket is in a massive state of flux and I can see and feel that even though I've only been involved in it since 2006. The sense I get is that it's difficult to engage kids with the sport and even when they do they're very easily lost to it and one of the answers seems to be making the game shorter for the new generations of people with limited attention spans and time on their hands hence the rise of T20. I have another project running alongside this one that is about places where there were cricket grounds and since I've been around in my local area there are a number of cricket grounds and their pavilions that have been lost, so this project is also recording something that might disappear in the coming decades and again that's a connection with the work of The Bechers.
The work as you see it here is on-going and is nowhere near finished, but the general approach is one of setting a series of parameters to work within in order to create that sense of uniformity. I would like to have shot everything using what I call 'German light' e.g. soft diffuse light created by 100% cloud cover, but given the time I have to shoot these images at the moment I take what I can get, but I do try and hang around and shoot in diffuse light where possible waiting for cloud cover. Doing this makes you realise what a massive task the Bechers work was. I'm using DSLR's with a tripod, if I had to use a massive lens and a view camera like they did and wait for the right light I reckon I'd have had about 2 images so far, it makes you realise how hard their process of taking the images was and how much time and effort must have been put into creating those images.
Tell us about your approach and equipment
In an ideal world I'd have used a view camera, and I did at the start with the idea I'd shoot a few and see how it went and then use a view camera. But, it involves so much time planning and travelling round and the weather dictates what you can do, I've pretty much scrapped the idea of the view camera and I'm currently using DSLR's. As I said I try and go out and shoot when the weather is over-cast. I try and shoot at 100 or 200 ISO and keep that consistent. I don't always use a tripod and when I do it's a Benbo one of the big ones. I use the lens at about 80mm and I'm not fussed on the aperture as I'm so far away, I'm more interested in the shutter speed being high so that the image is sharp. At the moment I just shoot using JPEGs and bracket the shots and do very little in the way of post production work. When I'm there I look at what I'm shooting and move stuff around. The pavilion at Chigwell school No.3 for instance had two ugly great bins at the front, so rather than leave them there and photoshop them out, I simply rolled them round to the side of the building out of sight. The same with paper in the shot. The less Photoshop I do the better. What I should do though and I think I'm going to regret in the future is not shooting everything in RAW as I'm not 100% sure how the images will cope with being blown up large.
I try and shoot from a good distance to eliminate converging verticals and keep everything central shooting in landscape format. While I'm there I shoot a load of the other surrounding stuff... The wicket, scoring boxes, rollers, the surrounding space, so there is scope for the project to be much bigger and broader.
002 - Langdon Hills Rec, Langdon Hills, Essex.
This building is a council facility situated at the Recreation Ground, Langdon Hills, Essex (My teams home ground). The building serves as the changing rooms, toilets and tea rooms for the club and other clubs that wish to hire it. In the winter it's used for football, so it's a general use multi-function facility operated and looked after by Basildon Council. It's non-descript and it's probably been built in the way that it has in order to survive repeated attempts to vandalise it and break-ins, looking to steal anything that is kept there including the copper plumbing fittings. There are no windows and the heavy-duty door is electronic with a very secure 3 system lock set up.
The previous building which was only there a few years ago and I don't now recall at all! Was susceptible to damage with windows and was frequently broken into. The building is used by Basildon & Pitsea CC and serves as their second ground with the 3rd and 4th XI playing their home games at this venue.
The ground is relatively established with a very good wicket maintained by Basildon Council. It's unusual in that the wicket runs East to West as it's situated on a fairly steep slope. The immediate surroundings are fairly impressive and the ground is a 'Pretty ground' situated in a park area with mature trees.
009 - Penzance Cricket Club, Penzance, Cornwall.
Penzance CC is a good example of collaboration with another organisation to get things done. The ground is next door to Penwith 6th form college (Further education) notoriously under-funded as a rule, but seemingly ready to put a lot of money in the cricket club in order that they have access to the facilities in order the students can play cricket on the ground. The whole project cost in the region of £650,000 with the college contributing £400,000, the ECB £200,000 and club itself £25,000. http://www.cornishman.co.uk/New-cricket-facility-make-impact-women-s-game/story-15041214-detail/story.html
When I shot the images I met a bloke - Godfrey Adams who seems to be an integral part of the club and gave me some of the background info about the project and the clubs history and some useful info relating to how clubs can generate cash for such projects and realise their ambitions.
The economy of Penzance has, like those of many Cornish communities, suffered from the decline of the traditional industries of fishing, mining and agriculture. Penzance now has a mixed economy consisting of light industrial, tourism and retail businesses. However, like the rest of Cornwall, housing remains comparatively expensive, wages low and unemployment high. In 2007, house prices rose 274% from 10 years prior, the fastest rise in the UK. The fishing port of Newlyn, which falls within the parish boundaries, provides some employment in the area, but has also been greatly affected by the decline in the fishing industry over the last 30 years. In the 2004 index of deprivation Penzance is listed as having 3 wards within the top 10% for employment deprivation, Penzance East (125th most deprived in England) Penzance West (200th most deprived in England), and Penzance Central (712th most deprived in England). 18-31% of households in the parish are described as "poor households". The Penzance East Ward also has one of the highest unemployment rates in Cornwall, stated as 15.4%.
Researching further I've found this...
Penzance Cricket Club was formed in 1829, the year of the first Varsity Boat Race, and the St Clare playing field became the permanent home of Penzance Cricket Club in the early 1900's. This was when the ground was given to them by the widow of a prominent local businessman and Penzance cricketer W E T Bolitho. (Source - http://penzance.play-cricket.com/ ).
The Penzance pavilion, I'm discovering through my research is pretty significant and is featured on a specific part of the ECB's (English Cricket Board) website in a section where they detail the development and design of such buildings see here http://www.ecb.co.uk/development/facilities-funding/facilities-guidance-and-project-development/ts5-pavilions-and-clubhouses
013 - Spondon Cricket Clubs Pavilion, Derby, Derbyshire. (Population 12,400)
Shot this one over the Bank holiday so the ground was busy, but was able to speak to the vice chairman who gave me load of information about the clubs history and some explanations and ideas as to why the club is so successful and has such a nice clubhouse.
Similar to Penzance there was a legacy aspect to their current success combined with culture and community. The ground that they currently occupy (Locko Road) is relatively new having only been there since 2006. The clubs rich history is very well recorded see the link here at the MCC's taking the field website. The clinching factor to me seems to be that their original ground was offered to them in 1924 to buy outright, they went for it and it took a further 21 years lead primarily by a group of local women - Mrs Benniston, Mrs Dally and Mrs Walker-Smith.
Having secured the ground as their own, this meant that they were able to sell the ground to developers and move to a new location slightly out of town with scope to expand. The new location includes a secondary pitch down a slight incline which in recent years they've worked on shoring up an unsecure bank/slope between the two pitches.
The club seemingly is in a very secure financial state put down to a exceptionally strong local community aspect to the clubs whole outlook. Speaking to the vice chairman about their success which he was obviously very proud of, he explained that they look at every opportunity they can to include the local community and they use cricket to engage with people across a diverse and all-inclusive range.
Looking around the 'Taking the field' link there's an amazing series of links to the history of this club which is explained by someone saying that once offered the opportunity to record their history in this manner, they took the opportunity without hesitation as another local club, who's clubhouse was destroyed in a fire took with it all of it's historical records.
014 - Beech Lane Pavilion, West Hallam, Erewash, Derbyshire (White Rose CC 3rd XI Ground)
018 - East Hanningfield & Great Burstead Cricket Club, Essex.
Beautiful ground with history that extends more than 120 years. The pavilion here is a very good example built recently in a traditional style. Cost of the new build was £120,000 with money coming from 3 main sources.
019 - Basildon & Pitsea Cricket Club
Basildon's history being a 'New Town' is relatively new, so as a consequence up until 1949, Basildon as a town was pretty much non-existent apart from a cluster of small villages. In the Basildon area there were a number of small clubs which until fairly recently have all but disappeared. Scattered around the town in a number of different locations are other cricket pitches with lesser facilities making Basildon & Pitsea the biggest club in the Basildon area. The clubhouse here (Which is my own club) is located on Mopsies Park a council owned ground which we have to pay rent for. The ground appears to have been around since 1973 and the image here from 1976 when it was in its early years and the surrounding tress were non existent. More precise details are to be found here http://www.guardian-series.co.uk/news/2274752.Basildon_and_Pitsea/
One of the main reasons I started the project was I couldn't understand why some clubs that were situated in densely populated areas with large memberships seemed to be poorly funded. Whereas clubs situated in villages of a couple of hundred people had unbelievable facilities and grounds. What was going on? It turns out that it's an historical thing often dependent on local benefactors. The older the club is the more likely it's going to be financially sound. Or the closer its ties with the local community the better off it's going to be and this tends to be relative to the size of the local community. Another factor is regional historic preferences towards cricket or football and this seems to be closely linked to urbanisation. Urban areas seem to adopt football as their choice of sport and the social make-up of the players seems to be wholly working class. But, in rural areas where again the players traditionally come from working class backgrounds for the most part - cricket has a stronger hold.
I've found that in rural areas, cricket clubs in the past have seemingly had strong ties with local industry or employers. St Just in Cornwall whose facilities are staggering given the size of the town have had close associations with a local baking company and anecdotally I've been told that the club is sponsored by Warrens the Bakers.
The Photography aspects
At this stage I'm using either a digital Nikon compact camera or an old Canon 450D just to get the buildings recorded and just play around with the idea. At the moment I'm liking the uniformity of the composition and the way that both buildings sit within the frame neatly. I know though as I travel around this isn't always going to be the case. We'll just have to see how it develops?
One I know I do want to include at this stage is the one at Lake Meadows in Billericay and also Grays &; Chadwells (AKA Thurrock CC). They're both very different.
I guess I'm being relatively lazy with most of the photography as I'm kind of doing it on the hoof. I've been using a Nikon D3100 with a 18mm-105mm lens, 3.5-5.6. As it's summer and the lights good I'm getting away with the fact that I'm hand holding the lens. The intention is that this series of images are only the preliminary 'test shoots' and that these locations are all relatively easy to access at this stage and therefore next summer, I'll go back and shoot properly in a more consistent way with the use of a big tripod using raw files.
For the most part I am trying to shoot the locations when the light is flat, so hand holding the camera I'm generally shooting at about F4-F5.6 and making the exposure adjustments with the shutter speed. At the next stage of development, I'll be looking to shoot the places when there are no players and things that clutter up the image. On the subject of clutter in some instances I do Photoshop some elements out of the images occasionally - things such as bins, especially if they're bright colours drawing your eye to them in the image. If I can I do this when I'm shooting - move the bins around to the side of the building out of shoot I will do it when possible.
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