The following is taken from the publication “Shiptonthorpe – a history of an East Riding Village”.
The present playing field was originally a gravel pit and was known as “The Gravel Fields Poor’s Land”. In 1700 villager Dorothy Barker bequeathed two parcels of land to Shiptonthorpe for the specific purpose of helping the needy. Her idea was that the power of the village would raise money by digging out gravel to assist in improving roads in the area.
From this generous bequest two charities were established: “The Shiptonthorpe Gravel Field Poor’s Land Charity in 1964 and later “The Shiptonthorpe Relief in Need Charity” in 1980 to distribute the income raised by the former. These two charities would ensure that income from rents were kept in trust and given directly as and when required to the needy in the parish of Shiptonthorpe.
A group of local residents sent the parish council a petition in 1969 for a playing field which was supported and gained momentum when the press heard about it. A “ways and means” committee began the search for land, which was not an easy task as none of the local farmers wanted to sell any
A solution was proposed by Councillor Richardson that the gravel pit be closed and in January 1970 a sub- committee of J Hornsey, R Iveson and L Richardson was appointed to inspect its suitability.
in 1971 the committee formally approached the Charity Commissioners regarding the gravel pit field. At the time it was being rented by a local farmer. The charity commissioners would not gift the land but agreed that it could be rented for the same sum, reviewed every three years.
The matter of officially closing the gravel pit and converting it to a playing field was brought up at the AGM. Usually this meeting at the Old School House only had one or two other people attending but in this instance the room was at full capacity with about 100 folk present.
Most of the local farmers opposed the idea as they didn’t want to lose their convenient supply of gravel. Feelings ran high but the closure was certain, despite the objections and in 1972 the Playing Field Committee was formed, a sub- committee of the Parish Council. In 1973 a rental £25 per year was agreed. In the Parish Council minutes H Mason is thanked for his services, however it is clear that there was plenty of teamwork involved in setting up the Playing Fields, Harry dash for example dealt with much of the administration. In 1974 a tragic accident occurred when a young boy was killed running after a football. In response, village residents collected money and urged the Parish Council and the GFDL charity to allow the village to have the land for recreational purposes. The plot was duly levelled and grassed by volunteers and the charity leased the land to the Parish Council at a peppercorn rent of 100 pounds per annum.
in 1976 a football field had been constructed and a children’s play area levelled, and a slide climbing frame and swings erected. The square for bowling green was also underway. At first there was there were setbacks when the Goole district Football League excluded the new field because of the persistent gravel but soon voluntary labour from the community stepped in with shovels and determination.
Shiptonthorpe Playing Fields soon grew to become an essential part of fixtures with dozens of clubs playing there at its height in the late 20th century and events such as It’s a Knockout” became a vital source of income for over a decade.
In 2001 the parish councils lease expired and the possibility of it going out to tender drew villages to a packed emergency meeting. As a result the meeting voted to form a separate playing field association in an attempt to safeguard the land’s future. An executive committee of Stephen Gilpin (chair), David Larder, Di Thomson and Gwen Huzzard was formed.
Explaining this to the Pocklington post David Larder said “the field is a huge asset to the people of Shiptonthorpe and losing it would be a devastating blow….[by being separate] and we are hoping to attract funding”.
Some of the land was sold to augment the charity account and ensure that if there is a needy cause in the parish, funds will be there to assist it. Just over half of the top football field was purchased by Drakes Garage in 2004. It has been subsequently fenced off.
Today, other than the Bowling Club there is a play area and football pitch with goal posts, gated vehicular access along one side, a parking area near the road and the Playing Field itself has been securely fenced off at that side. The Playing Field now comes under the auspices of the Parish Council.