MIners Playing Field

Article Number Eighteen in Hook History Society’s Lockdown Series.

This article was written as the result of enquiries from a couple of supporters and deals with the story behind the purchase of the village playing field.


Alongside the former Hook Miners Institute was a large colliery owned field.......today’s playing field.....which in those days was used mainly to graze the pit ponies which were used to haul coal underground and to rest them whenever the colliery shut down for a brief holiday or occasional emergency work.

It had long been considered that the field would be a major asset to the village community.............main reasons were, of course, because of its proximity to the thriving village primary school and the then Miners Institute, which to all intents and purposes was the village hall.

Another was that the burgeoning cricket team had been leading a somewhat nomadic existence playing on various fields belonging to sympathetic farmers.

It seems ironic that the field was finally purchased the month that the fatal decision was made that Hook, the last remaining colliery in Pembrokeshire would be closing. The struggle against underground flooding was finally lost and the colliery at Hook closed on the 23rd of May 1948 having been nationalised by the Labour Government the previous year.

Although on nationalisation the colliery and many associated assets were taken over by the newly created National Coal Board the original colliery owners retained possession of the field and several properties in the village.

The playing field in Hook was purchased by the miners who at that time served as committee members of the Institute in 1948. After lengthy negotiations the price of £230 was agreed with the landowner Lt Col (retd) Evelyn George Harcourt Powell and a Geoffrey Lewis Taylor both of London.

At today’s values (2020) £230, it is estimated, would be worth about £5,500.

Those who negotiated and signed on behalf of the community were: Cyril Jenkins, fitter; William James Davies, farmer; John Grffith George, clerk; and James Lawford Banner, skilled labourer.

The Conveyance dated 22nd April 1948 states that a Miners Welfare Fund had been established to purchase an area for the social wellbeing recreation and improvement of conditions of living of workers in or about coal mines.

Although the purchase was made after Nationalisation in 1946 there was an exception and reservation in the contract which would have given the Coal Board the power to extract coal by “entering on the surface or by underground”. They could cross the field with horse; wagons and lay tramways and in effect had free rein to extract any coal they felt worthwhile.

The document goes on to state, ”Nevertheless, proper compensation would be paid to the purchaser”.

Others mentioned in the Conveyance but not required to sign were: Cecil Hitchings; Thomas Hitchings; Peter Thomas; Fred Thomas; Alfred Thomas George and Richard James Rees.

The playing field is now under the stewardship of the Charity Commissioners with the Hook Community Council as the Trustee. This means that although the Community Councillors as individuals can make decisions regarding the playing field it’s the corporate body, that is the Community Council, which carries the burden of responsibility.

Perhaps the most notable user of the playing field is the village cricket club which was formed by the miners in 1923. The colliery owned the field and used it primarily as a paddock for pit ponies and larger draft horses used in the mining industry. A field behind Landseer View, Pill Road was also used for cricket matches as were farmer’s fields to the west of the village plus Nash Farm.

The first recorded game was against Rosemarket and other opponents were Milford Haven second eleven and Freystrop. As expertise grew the village side took on Herbrandston; Haverfordwest and Burton, who at that time called themselves the Williamston eleven.


Most pitches were farm fields.................one can imagine the state of the Hook field after horses had trampled over grass sodden after a few wet days!!!..........needless to say batting was not for the faint hearted. This was before the days of helmets; faceguards etc ..................if a really fast bowler came on the batsman would borrow a cap!

Soon after the second world war cricket was being played on most Saturdays and an increasing number of young men were qualifying for the local Grammar School and benefiting from a decent standard of coaching.

Cricket got onto a more ”professional” footing in the 1950’s when the county league system was formed, and the extremely popular Harrison Allen cup competition was launched.

Twice the village side reached the final of the Harrison Allen and in 1963 won the League competition. The Second eleven and youth sides have also scored success in major competitions and collected trophies.

Today (2020) the club fields two senior teams; a lady’s team and up to five sides in various age groups from under nine to under nineteen. It is believed that that Hook is the only Cricket Club in Pembrokeshire that regularly fields a side in every available category.

The field has also accommodated a football side; a hockey eleven and even archery. and echoes with excitement on the occasion of the School’s annual sports day!

But organised sport apart it is a hugely appreciated open space in the centre of the community that is the envy of many villages in the county of Pembrokeshire.

Around the 1970/ early1980’s a band of volunteers worked industriously to establish the much-used children’s play area which is the responsibility of the Trustees....to all intents and purposes the Hook Community Council.

The playing field in Hook is yet another debt of gratitude the villagers owe to the miners of yesteryear............men who had the foresight to scrimp and save to ensure that those that followed would have the benefit of a recreation area; an open space where people of all ages could relax in conditions so different to the coal ridden air in which they had to toil.

Today the field, the envy of many rural communities houses fetes and various fund raisers....................in fact just as the miners of bygone days planned........it has become a relaxing hub of village life and a spot were children of the village can enjoy a safe and open space.

Aerial view of Hook
Above: Aerial view of Hook showing the playing field in the middle of the village

(Richard Howells 2020)