In days when hours of work were long and arduous there was much less time for leisure pursuits. Perhaps archery was practised in the Salter Butts field on the Upton-Caughall boundary. Certainly cockfighting, skittles and later quoits were the favourite diversions in the village. It is during the last seventy years that the social activities have become more organised.
Clubs and Institutes
The development of the village from the last century shows that the community spirit of a village need not be lost in spite of increased and easier communications and the coming of the public services. Nowadays the older clubs and associations retain strong support while new interests have been added - They are grouped as follows:-
The three main, political parties are represented in the village by the following -
The Conservative Women's Association, and the Upton Branch of the Chester Liberal Association, and a Labour Party Group. All are active in between, as well as at election times. There was a Men's Conservative Association, now disbanded.
1 Lending Library. Parish records show the existence of a lending library in 1884 for the following notice has been found:- "By the kindness of T. Walton Thomson, Esq. a handsome gift of new books has been given for the use of Upton parishioners. These books are for the present placed in the Reading Room at Upton Lawn and are now ready for use. The library will be open every Monday evening from 7-8 o'clock. Subscriptions one penny per month (payable in advance). The Library is not confined to the members of the Reading Room but is open to all Residents in the Parish." Since March, 1928, the Women's Institute have run the local branch of the County Library.
2. The Dramatic Society. This society, a flourishing concern, was founded in November, 1933. Membership has risen from 21 in 1933 to 46 in 1951, including non-acting members. The society has produced a variety of plays under the direction of its original producer, Mrs. Mitchell. Of these "Berkeley Square" in 1950 was an outstanding (78) success. The annual production is a greatly anticipated event in the village.
3 Dancing. Dances were formerly held in the school-room and Wheatsheaf; now they take place in the Village Hall. An "Old Tyme" Dancing Club was formed about four years ago with a membership of about 50. Dances are held once a fortnight, qualified instruction has been given, and many an older couple who thought that they had finished with dancing, have started again, thanks to this club. Folk Dancing classes have been held at various times. The present instructress, Miss G. Davis, took a class of Chester school children to compete in the Folk Dancing at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod in 1950.
4 The Upton-by-Chester Horticulatural Soclety. A Horticultural Society seems to have flourished from 1894 until 1914, as shown by records of Flower Shows. These were held at the various large houses in the district. The Society was re-formed in 1946. Its membership has increased enormously to the present 220 members. It is a very active and enterprising society, encouraging better cultivation of fruit, flowers and vegetables by fair competition at the annual shows held in August and November in the Village Hall. Instructive and interesting monthly meetings are held in the school. The Festival activities will be dealt with at the end of the Scrapbook.
1. Upton Heath Men's Institute. The Men's Institute
at the Junction of Long Lane and Caughall Road was formed on 31st December, 1907.
The site was given by the late Sir John Frost, and the foundation stone was
laid by the Duke of Westminster. "The building was erected for the use as
a reading room and club for use of men of the farming, artisan and industrial
classes resident in the Township of Upton, provided the building is not used
for the purposes either of
religious instruction of religious meetings, or the promotion of party politics whether Parliamentary, Parochial, educational or otherwise. No intoxicating liquor shall be bought or sold, there shall be no gambling." The Institute is open from 1st October to 30 th April and its annual subscription is 3/6d. Its main purpose is to provide recreational (79) facilities and it is hoped to increase these and to increase the membership from its present number of 54. During World War 2 normal activities were suspended and the building was used as an A.R.P. (First Aid) Post in 1939 and later for a while as a pie-selling centre.
2. The British Legion. The Upton branch was formed in 1933 and held its meetings in the old billiard room at Upton Lawn. To-day there are 250 members who have their own headquarters at the British Legion Recreation Room, Mill Lane, acquired in 1946. 'The Legion is very active both in Legion affairs and in social and sporting events. It has been represented at all important parades in neighbouring towns and twice in London. On the first occasion, a large contingent from Upton attended the Coronation Royal Review in Hyde Park on 19th June, 1937. On the second, representatives from the Upton Branch were present at the National Parade of Standards in Hyde Park on 12th May of this Festival year. It is hoped in the not too distant future to have a permanent building for the headquarters on the site in Mill Lane, plans having already been passed. The Festival week activities are covered under their own section. There is an Upton Women's Section of the British Legion which was founded in 1949.
3. The Upton Heath Women's Institute. On 12th May1926, the Upton Heath Women's Institute met for the first time in the Chapel schoolroom. From then onwards monthly meetings have been held uninterruptedly, though the venue was changed in January 1929, to the newly opened Village Hall. The membership has steadily increased from 48 in 1926 to 220 in 1936. The latter was fixed as the maximum membership.
Mrs. Crompton 1926 -
Mrs. Beresford-Jones 1933 - 1946
Mrs. T. E. Williams 1947 - 1949
Mrs. Harrop 1950 –
The Institute has taken part in all the various sides of Institute work and has a large variety of interests. It co-operates with the nation-wide movement through the County and National Federation. It possesses an enterprising Produce Guild and a drama group and a choir of very high standing. Exhibitions of handicrafts and (80-) produce are held from time to time. Exchanges of letters and gifts link the Institute with those in New Zealand and Canada. Social events include an annual outing, a birthday party and Christmas festivities. This year the Institute marked its quarter century by having a cloth embroidered for use at meetings. It was made from a handwoven linen sheet over one hundred years old and given by a member.
Members give help where needed, as for example at the Children's Clinic, Library and Cheshire Agricultural Shows. One of their first community efforts was to help in the raising of funds for the building of the Village Hall, these taking the form of socials and one particularly successful Gipsy Fair. Later the members undertook the designing and making of the stage curtains for the Hall. To mark the Coronation of King George VI a seat was donated to the village and placed at the junction of Heath Road and Long Lane. The Institute has joined in the scheme for planting flowering trees along Heath Road to mark the Festival of Britain.
The Choir which took part in the Chester Music Festival in 1951 won the first award for large choirs and received a silver cup.
The war activities of the Institute were very
wide in scope Including A.R.P., Ambulance, W.V.S.,Evacuation Scheme, camouflage
nets, fruit canning etc. Of special importance were two activities, the
knitting party and the National Savings Group. The former made about 5,000
garments in six years for the Services and children from occupied countries. A
penny-a-week scheme, organised to buy wool realized £213-10-0d. The latter,
formed in June, 1940,
collected £56,887 until its cessation in July, 1946.
In addition a market stall was opened in June1944, and members also undertook the distribution of pies under the Ministry of Food scheme for rural areas. In six years a quarter of a million pies were sold and the total profit of £450 was partly given to charities and partly made available for village and institute needs.
Two short extracts from an article on the W.I. by Sir Stephen Tallents sum up what we feel to be true about out Institute:- First "It has provided in our villages (81) small unadvertised parliaments," and secondly "It has secured the release of gifts which would otherwise have stayed unexercised and unbreathed."
The provision of playing fields in Upton, a long felt need, will be met in the not too distant future. As long ago as 1906 Mr. John Frost offered a piece of land to be used as a recreation ground for the school-children of the village. It was to be a memorial to his daughter. Unfortunately there were many delays and it was not until 1931 that Lady Frost opened the field behind Heath Cottages. While it is still used by many children it is inadequate for village needs to-day.
There are several of these in Upton:-
1. Guides and Brownies. The first Upton Guide Company was founded in November, 1919, by Miss Monica Sparllng. They have been disbanded but are now extremely active. They number 36 girls who meet weekly and take part with enthusiasm in all Guide activities in the village and in Chester on special occasions. The First Upton Brownie Pack was formed in 1919 and has continued without a break. They are 24 in number and a very keen band of youngsters. An outstanding event was their winning of the Chester Division Finals in the 1950 County Brownie Competition.
2. Scouts and Cubs. The 1st Upton Scouts Company has just been re-formed and it: is hoped that they will grow into a keen body of Scouts. We have no information about the Cubs though there has been an Upton pack which was very active just after the end of World War II.
3. The Upton Youth Fellowship was founded in October 1948. It is run by the members themselves and it is for boys and girls of 15 years and upwards. At present it numbers 108. The Fellowship exists to co-ordinate the spiritual, intellectual and social life of the youth of the parish. Their aim is to help obtain a Church Hall so as to have even greater facilities for more frequent meetings. (82)
The Golf Club. A Golf Club of nine holes started in Upton Hall was the nucleus of the Curzon Park club of Chester:-
The Upton-by-Chester Golf Club, an eighteen hole course of very pleasing aspect, is laid out on land originally surrounding "The Oaks" and was at first a nine hole course for which the outbuildings of The Oaks were used as a club house. It was formed in 1934 but by 1937 was extended to its present eighteen holes (5568 yards). The present club house "The Oaks" with its billiard room and ballroom was taken over in 1937. The first president was Sir Charles Cayzer, Bt., M.P. (1935-1939), and the first captain and lady captain were Mr. Ernest Clarke and Mrs. Meadows respectively. During the war years part of the Golf Club house was surrendered for the school for evacuees. Part of the course remained open for the use of H.M. Forces, but some twelve acres were ploughed and the remainder used for sheep grazing. A number of anti-aircraft shells and fragments fell on the links and traces can still be seen of the huge bomb crater formed on the ninth fairway.
The club's efforts on behalf of charity have been notable, and well over £4,000 has been raised by various means, including a number of exhibition as matches in which have participated such famous golfers as Henry Cotton, Dai Rees, Jock Ballantyne, Bill Shankland and many others of first rank. In all these matches the Club's Professional, "Bill" Davies, has played and appeared at no disadvantage alongside the masters. The club has numbered among its members several well known amateur golfers, to mention only lan Patey (onetime English Amateur Champion and runner-up for the Championship in 1950) J. T. Jones, Shiela McNichol and a host of others. (83)
Tennis. Upton-by-Chester Tennis Club was a small club founded soon after the 1914-1918 war with two grass courts and a wooden club house in Newton Lane. Membership was about 20-30 drawn from Upton, Newton and Hoole. It was closed soon after the second World War and the hut and courts incorporated in the farm of Mr. Ben Roberts. Tennis courts at Upton Heyes and at Upton Cross in private ownership have been made available to youth clubs, church members and W.I members at various periods.
Badminton. The Village Hall has been used for badminton' since its opening. The Upton Club, formed about 1934, and the BrookHirst Club, were amalgamated in 1947. Play goes on one evening a week during the Winter months.
Boxing. A gymnasium was run by Mr. Oswald Rigby about twenty-five years ago. Physical training instruction was given, and also lessons in boxing.
Cricket. The Cricket Club was originally formed by Mr. W. Sparling soon after he became Vicar in 1882. At one time it was a very thriving club. Today in Upton there is a cricket club with full equipment but, alas, no field for them to play on. Members are playing for other clubs while waiting for the new playing fields. We hope it will not be long before we once more have a village cricket team.
Football. We have no data about the football club, except that a club was started a few years ago. This, too, suffers for lack of playing fields.
Riding. This has long been a favourite diversion in Upton. The Upton Riding School was opened in 1932 by Mr. Martin on land that had been part of Mr. B. C. Roberts' estate "OaKfield". The bungalow and buildings date from 1932, and in 1939 the school was taken over by Miss Nickson. The Upton Pony Club started, about seven years ago. Now it is affiliated to the National Pony Club and called, the Cheshire Forest Pony Club.It is a very active and very popular club (84)