Introduction from Jeremy Kite, Leader of Dartford Borough Council
When it comes to providing community facilities, I like to think that Dartford Borough Council is a little bit different from the average local authority. Since 2003, my colleagues and I have had a clear vision to bring together traditional community values with seriously good quality architecture to create some of the best new public spaces imaginable.
This has resulted in places like Princes Park football stadium, Dartford Judo Centre and the new cafe, bridges, playspaces and bandstand in
Central Park. Now, we have been able to create a new pavilion for Dartford Cricket Club at Hesketh Park.
Every project we have gone on to complete started just like this one with a commitment that we will always try our best to make good things happen. This was and still is not about a Council and a Cricket Club. It is about all of us, as Dartford people, trying to do something good for our town.
At the outset we didn't quite know exactly what lay ahead as we were, for us, using some pioneering approaches. We've overcome many challenges and learnt a lot along the way but we have delivered on our promise to provide both a magnificent community facility and the vehicle to help take the Cricket Club through the 21st century.
Councillor Jeremy Kite, Leader of the Council.
The visuals (below) were unveiled to members at the AGM in December 2013. We were then awarded a grant from the Council for the necessary funding for the build in the Spring of 2014 and we finally broke ground in September 2014.
Despite some initial delays building work moved very quickly, mainly due to the modular nature of the design, and the main structure of the building was all but complete by the turn of the year. New Year saw work start on the fitting out with much of the work being done by local tradesman. February saw the demolition of the old Pavilion which some may not realise is the second cricket pavilion at Hesketh Park, with the original Victorian building being destroyed by fire in the 1980s.
We suffered a number of setbacks during the build, but the biggest and most challenging was a break in which set us back 4 weeks with just 7 weeks to go. However with a monumental effort from all involved the building was duly ready for the 'topping off' ceremony at the end of March with Jeremy Kite, Tony Martin and Mayor Avtar Sandhu doing the honours.
The Club has a long and proud history stretching back nearly 300 years and it was important to us that this was remembered as part of this project. It was with great pleasure that we were able to remember stalwarts of the Club, like Graham Dilley, Paul Stanford, Don Wykes, Gordon Morris, Les Knapp, Derek Ufton and our current Club President Mike Cullingham. It was also fantastic that some of these people and their families were able to join us to mark the occasion.
Work then continued to complete the build ahead of the Club's opening dinner on 11th April. 150 members and friends donned black tie and ball gowns and were royally entertained with fireworks, dancing and guest speakers ex England captain Alec Stewart and Strictly Come Dancing Winner and BBC presenter Chris Hollins under the stewardship of Club Chairman Jim Lowrie.
The new 4 lane net facility on the footprint of the old pavilion which was funded by a grant from ECB was opened for the last few weeks of the season and hopefully by the start of the 2016 season all the landscaping round the pavilion and nets will be fully complete.
This is not the end of developments though as we are seeking further funding for an irrigation system that will use rainwater from the roof, collected in a 25,000 litre tank already buried to the side of the pavilion, to help keep the outfield lush and green throughout the summer months. Plans for an indoor cricket facility are also still in view at a sight away from Hesketh Park with details and timnescales being still uncertain.