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 - Route 1 and Route 2. 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.
This ground, as the name suggests, is mainly dedicated to sports and provides a valuable area of flat land for field events such as football and cricket. With the adjoining Long Lane Woods this gives a continuous recreation area from Shirley to Elmers End. The area is fairly low lying and the Chaffinch Brook runs north through the Playing Fields, in very wet weather drainage problems can arise.
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 southeast edge, with a terminal straight coming back towards Shirley Road on the line of Elmhurst Road, past the grandstand and finishing in front of what is now Ashburton School. The Grand Stand was just east the end of the present Shirley Park Road, near the present tennis courts.(Source: 1888 4" map by GM Dacon of The Strand, London)
Woodside station, which was opened in 1871, brought race-goers to the course, as well as providing access by rail to Addiscombe, and via New Beckenham to London. 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 is noticeably high, 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 Course and was used as a golf course for a number of years, the Club House was situated behind the fire station site. The area was acquired by the Council for housing and playing fields in 1942.