Ashburton Playing Fields
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Ashburton Playing Fields is a playing field located in Woodside, London. It is managed by the London Borough of Croydon. Monks Orchard, the playing fields run from Bywood Avenue in the north to Chaucer Green in the west and Woodville Avenue in the east, the houses in Stroud Green Way back onto the western boundary. Tramlink service for the park are Arena and Woodside. It covers an area of 49.5 acres (20 ha).
Facilities include: football pitches, changing rooms, and children's playground.
The ground is open all the time although the sports pitches and use of changing rooms has to be booked via Sports bookings.
The Playing Fields and adjacent areas have a long sporting history. Until well into the late Victorian age a race-course thrived on the ground behind the Woodside Fire Station, with the site covering the Stroud Green housing estate, Ashburton School and Ashburton Playing Fields.
It is said that King James I established public horse racing at Croydon early in his reign. The course was shaped like a "short-tailed" figure 9 (with the top pointing towards the north-east), bounded on the north by Lower Addiscombe Road and Long Lane, and on the east by what is now Bywood Avenue. The Chaffinch Brook marked its south-east edge, with a terminal straight coming back towards Shirley Road along the line of Elmhurst Road, past the grandstand and finishing in front of what is now Ashburton School. The grandstand was just east the end of the Shirley Park Road, near the present tennis courts.(Source: 1888 4" map by GM Dacon of The Strand, London)
Woodside railway station, which opened in 1871, brought race-goers to the course. Because the down side of the station was below road level, a ramp was constructed to enable horses to be brought out of the station, and the exit from the platform was high enough for a horse to be ridden through it.
The race course closed following pressure from the Mayor of Croydon, who considered that the races only brought a lot of undesirables down from London. The race track was brought by Beckenham Golf Club and was used as a golf course for a number of years, with the club house situated behind the fire station site. The area was acquired by the Council for housing and playing fields in 1942.
The Playing Fields provides a valuable area of flat land for field events such as cricket and various codes of football. Along with the adjoining Long Lane Woods, the area creates a continuous recreation area from Shirley to Elmers End. The area is fairly low lying, with the Chaffinch Brook running north through it, meaning that drainage problems can arise in very wet weather.
- Croydon Council - Ashburton Playing Fields[permanent dead link]
- Croydon Council - History[permanent dead link]