The Playing Field at Shadwell, on the outskirts of Uley, was bought by public subscription after the end of the Second World War, with money raised through the Uley and Owlpen Welcome Home Fund, launched in 1945. The aim was to establish a memorial to the thirteen members of the community who had lost their lives in the conflict; but the project was delayed for nearly fifteen years by legal arguments, difficulties over access and changes of policy.
At last, in March 1959, a deal was completed, and a fine, six-acre field was purchased for £1,000, providing plenty of space for separate cricket and football pitches, and a car-park. The first pavilion was built in 1960-61, partly with volunteer labour, and did good service for nearly fifty years. By 1999, however, it was becoming decrepit, and lacked modern facilities. The drive to replace it was begun by Wayne Fisher, a skilled stonemason whose family have lived in Uley for many years. Together with a friend, Jeremy Williams, he ran a weekly village lottery, and over ten years, showing remarkable stamina, he raised £50,000.
Fund-raising was then taken over by a small committee. Estimates showed that over £200,000 would be needed, and this formidable total was reached through generous contributions from local individuals and firms, among them Renishaw, and major grants from the Gloucestershire Environmental Trust, Sport England, Places People Play (as part of the Olympic legacy) and the Football Association. The old pavilion was demolished in November 2011, and the new one, built on the same site by a local firm, Mike Pain’s Elmtree Construction, was formally opened in May 2015 by one of Uley’s most distinguished citizens, the choreographer Gillian Lynne.
The field and pavilion belong, ultimately, to the Charity Commissioners; but the Uley Playing Field Trust, set up in 1959, is administered by a local committee. In planning a high-quality building, the committee’s aim was to create a facility that would appeal to a broad section of the village community, and this appears to be succeeding, The main users of the ground are still the Uley Cricket and Association Football Clubs, but the new pavilion, with its spacious club room, modern kitchen and state-of-the-art showers, is attracting a wide variety of customers. It has proved particularly popular for children’s parties, as in fine weather participants can let off surplus energy on the field. The building is also sought-after for weddings, but the committee limits these to one a year, to minimise the annoyance caused by noise to people living nearby. Other users include fitness groups, singing groups, bridge players and yoga classes. Corporate business meetings have been held in the Club Room. The car-park – extended at the time of re-building – is used by members of the Angling Club, who fish in the lake at Stoutshill.
Income for the maintenance of the pavilion and ground derives from the fees paid by users, principally the cricket and football clubs. Other important sources of funds are the annual dog show, events such as the Uley Hooley barn dance, the Uley 100 Club (a village lottery with a monthly draw), and the generous grants given by the Uley Community Shop. The principal costs are insurance, electricity and gas, and grass-cutting every one or two weeks (dependent on the weather) in spring, summer and autumn. In the football season the ground is maintained by a dedicated amateur groundsman, Dave Hill, who rolls and marks out the pitch before each match.
Public access to the field is free at all times, 365 days a year. Dog-walkers are welcome – provided they clear up behind them! In 2012 the field was registered as one of the Queen Elizabeth Fields in Trust, which guarantees that it will never be built on, but will be used for public recreation in perpetuity.
Bookings can be made by contacting Jonathan Dembrey on 07801 217230.