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Heritage Committee chairman David Allen writes on the history of the County Ground 1885 - 2000 The article linked above is a fuller account of the 115 year history of The County Ground.
Col. James Fellowes opened negotiations for the lease and development of some land on the Hulse Estate off Bannister Road, Southampton in the autumn General Meeting of Hampshire County Cricket Club, held at the George Hotel, Winchester in January 1884, Col. Fellowes was able to report that eight acres of land had been leased at an annual rent of £160 on condition that the club erected a pavilion. The lease was to run for 28 years.
The club raised a guarantee fund of £2,000 with which to build a pavilion and develop the ground. The ground was officially opened on May 9th 1885 by the Countess of Northesk, wife of the then President of the County Club. In the match to celebrate the opening, North of Hampshire played South of Hampshire and the most notable feature was an undefeated innings by F.E.Lacey representing the latter. The first inter-county match took place on June 25, 26 1885, when Derbyshire opposed Hampshire, the first first-class game being against MCC on June 15, 16 - the home county lost both these matches by an innings.
In 1893 the Hampshire County Ground Company was formed and purchased the freehold of the ground from Sir Edward Hulse for £5,400. This enabled the club to erect a groundsman's house and also to develop the football ground adjacent to the cricket arena. A football stand was built on the site now occupied by the office block and in 1896-97 Southampton F.C. moved to the ground. The football club, however, attracted crowds of up to 12,000 and the accommodation was inadequate, so after just two football seasons they moved on to The Dell just further down the road.
The early years were far from easy, and in 1904 the committee discussed closing the place down and a benefit for the groundsman acutally lost £6. The county struggled on and were rewarded with a period of success under Lionel Tennyson either side of the Great War.
After the Second World War a 'Jubilee Fund' was set up to improve the ground but of the hoped for £20,000 only £10,927 was raised and this was used on repairs and renovations. The new office block was officially opened by the President of the Club and C.P.Mead on May 21st 1956. In the same year three quarters of the seating on the ground were replaced. In the 1960's the link between the two pavilions was built and the present bell, a relic from the Cunard Line "Athlone Castle" was installed. The major development in the 1980's was the County Club, used for squash and functions and the Phillip Mead Stand was erected in the early 1990's.
As the new millennium loomed, Hampshire found a new site to build a new stadium and a developer to buy the County Ground. The last match was played in September 1999 and Hampshire moved to the Rose Bowl at the start of the following season. The old County Ground was demolished and replaced by a housing estate.
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