These pages provide historical information about the community centre and the surrounding area. Follow the links at the bottom of each page to guide you through all the pages in this section.
With thanks to those who have contributed to the content of these pages:
Alan Crossland of Urmston for kindly allowing us to reproduce text, photos and maps from his project "The History of Humphrey Park and Newcroft" and his book "Looking Back at Urmston".
"The History of our Town" on urmston.net.
"History" on stretfordtowncentre.org.uk.
Wikipedia pages about Urmston and Stretford.
"Districts & Townships of the Greater Manchester Metropolitan County" on manchester2002-uk.com.
"Remains, Historical and Literary, Connected with the Palatine Counties of Lacaster and Chester" by the Chetham Society 1903 and digitised by Google.
Oxford History of British Place Names.
Trafford Council for kindly allowing us to reproduce some of their photos.
Local newspapers: Stretford and Urmston News; Urmston County Express and News-Telegraph.
These pages would not be possible without your kind generosity.
Humphrey Park Community Centre
Humphrey Park Community Centre stands on the western side of Humphrey Lane in Urmston, midway between Urmston and Stretford town centres, within the Metropolitan Borough of Trafford, in Greater Manchester.
Before the 1930s, the area around the community centre location was known as Gorsey Brow and the original route of Humphrey Lane would have passed in a straight line through the current location of the community centre building and bowling green with the grounds of Gorse Hill Farm on one side of the lane and The Manor Buildings and The Grove on the other.
During the 1930s, Messrs. Longworth and Taylor bought several plots of land in the area for building purposes. They built the Humphrey Park and nearby Newcroft estates in 1937/8. Due to the Great Depression of the 1930s, approximately 100 of the houses remained unsold and these were put up for rent, although many have been sold in recent years.
At the beginning of World War II, an air-raid precautions post and shelter was built on spare land at the junction of Humphrey Lane and Humphrey Crescent on the site of the current community centre. This was a surface level shelter, and a great many of these were built all over the country. After the war, through the efforts of the Humphrey Park & District Residents Society, Urmston Council had a large extension added to the air-raid shelter, and this became the original Humphrey Park Community Centre in 1948, at which time a provisional management committee was set up to run it.
Humphrey Park Community Centre when it opened in 1948
Provisional Committee, March 1948
Mr Long, Mr Jennions, Pop Reynolds, Mr Storry, Mr Arblaster, Mrs Lees, Mrs Mountford, Mr Short
A library was opened at the centre in 1948. This was closed in 1990. A mobile library visited the centre on a weekly basis until 2012, at which time the service was discontinued.
Official opening of Humphrey Park Library - October 1948.
Left to right: T. Farrell, Councillor A. Howsin, Councillor W. Newton, Mrs L. Read, K. Lowe
The bowling green was laid at the centre in 1949. Stretford and Urmston News, Friday April 22, 1949:
Humphrey Park and District Residents Society.
The opening of the public bowling green last Monday afternoon has added yet another amenity to the Humphrey Park district. The green was opened by Mr Clegg, the pioneer, and general satisfaction was felt throughout the community that he should have the privilege of bowling the first wood, for it was he who initiated the idea and for a considerable period worked strenuously to bring into being this much needed amenity.
Later the negotiations were passed to the society, and the committee wish to express their appreciation to Urmston Council for providing this attractive green.
Arrangements have been made by Urmston Council for the green to be run by the Humphrey Park Community Association and this should provide means for close cooperation of all organisations in the district.
The society wishes the community association the utmost success in this new venture.
Unfortunately, Mr Clegg, president of Humphrey Park Community Association, was in poor health when he officially opened the bowling green. He died later the same evening, aged 79. His death came "as a great shock to all members of the association". A cup, known as Clegg's Cup, is competed for each year in June in his memory.
The Humphrey Park & District Bowling Club was formed in 1950 and it is believed that they took over the running of the bowling green at this time.
The Ladies Bowling Club was formed in 1951.
Over the years, many community groups benefited from a wide range of activities held at the community centre, including social evenings of dancing, whist drives and musicals, and even a children’s cine club (set up in 1952). Playgroups and youth clubs were also held at the centre, whilst a Townswomen’s Guild met at the Centre on a monthly basis. Later, other groups included yoga, local aquarists, keep fit and arthritis care groups could also be found running here.
Children's Christmas Party 1949
The Residents' Society formed The Old Folks Club about 1949.
Later believed to be known as "The Over 60's Club".
The Humphrey Park Entertainers formed about 1948.
Rehearsing at St Clement’s Branch Church, and holding performances at The Centre, George St Hall, and the Civic Theatre Stretford.
In 1959, discussions began between Humphrey Park District Community Association and Urban District Council of Urmston regarding the building of a new community centre. Over the next few years a least two different layouts were considered and estimates in the region of £7,000 to £8,250 were obtained. The original community centre was demolished and rebuilt in 1962. It opened on 5th January 1963.
Community Centre Plans 1962
Urmston County Express and News-Telegraph, Thursday January 10, 1963:
Humphrey Park Centre Opened.
"Normal service resumed" was the message broadcast by officials of Humphrey Park Community Association this week following the opening of their rebuilt £7000 headquarters in Humphrey Lane by the Chairman of Urmston Council, Councillor Mrs. R. V. Royle-Higginson, on Saturday (5th January 1963). For after months of waiting for their old headquarters to be demolished and rebuilt on palatial lines, the 400 members have been without facilities. Now every section and organisation that use the community centre are making plans to extend their activities and to utilise the new building to its best advantage.
On Saturday, when the Chairman of the Council conducted the opening ceremony, she told the packed hall that she could remember when during her visits to the centre there had been buckets spaced about the hall to catch the drips from the ceiling, when it was raining.
In the new building which replaces a ramshackled hut, there will be a large hall that can be split into two sections by a partition. There is also a smaller room which can be used for committee meetings, a spacious kitchen, and plenty of storage space.
At the top of pages 2 and 4 of the paper in which this article appeared, the date was mistakenly printed as January 10, 1962. Over the years that followed, this has led some people to believe that the centre was opened a year earlier, which of course was not the case.
The article above provides a good indication as to why the original community centre was demolished. It is also well known that many ground level air raid shelters were built using a soft lime mortar due to a lack of cement at the time. Perhaps this reduced the possible lifespan of the original building and explains why it could not have been renovated.
In 1967, a small extension was built onto the store room next to the kitchen and this became the annexe.
The Community Centre in 1974
A full rewire was carried out in 2011, which involved the installation of more efficient lighting and the replacement of overhead bar heating with more efficient warm air heaters. This was followed by alterations to ensure DDA compliance.
During the years that followed, the location became somewhat neglected due to a lack of funding: the car park area became increasingly uneven and dangerous; perimeter fencing, which had been removed, was not replaced; part of the wooden structure of the building started to rot away as a consequence of water ingress caused by raising the level of the car park in 2011 as part of the DDA works; the aging shutters at the main entrance became increasingly problematic; guttering was leaking and allowing rainwater to pour out at various locations. However, despite this, the centre had also been enjoying something of a renaissance, once again becoming a very well used local facility, with a greatly increased membership, thanks to the renewed efforts of Humphrey Park Community Association. As a consequence, the association worked closely with Trafford Council in order to complete work which was envisaged would help to ensure the long term future of the building and improve its general appearance, security and functionality. In February 2019, the following work began:
Extensive structural work to the building, which involved replacing the entire south facing wall.
Resurfacing and remarking the car park.
The planting of a new wildlife hedge around the perimeter of the grounds.
The removal of two large London Plane trees, which unfortunately had reached the end of their life, and the planting of three new trees more suited to the urban environment.
The installation of a new porch and doors at the main entrance.
One-piece aluminium guttering around the entire building.
Work was completed in April 2019, the total budget for which came to around £90,500, with Humphrey Park Community Association contributing around £40,000 to Trafford Council's investment of £50,500.