A brief history of Newlands Park - Home of Cheltenham Rugby Club
Newlands Park is owned by Cheltenham Rugby Club (Cheltenham Tigers) who have been serving Cheltenham and the local community for 125 years. The Club is rich in heritage and their HQ, now Newlands Park, situated on the outskirts of the town, near Southam/Bishop’s Cleeve, and close to Cheltenham Racecourse.
During September 2014, the Club surrendered its thirty-five Lease on the Prince of Wales Stadium to Cheltenham Borough Council (two years before the expiry date), so that the Council could include the venue, as part of the newly formed Community Trust, with other iconic buildings in the Town.
In the knowledge, that there was no guarantee that the Club could continue to play rugby at the Prince of Wales Stadium, after 2016, the Club entered in to negotiations with Smiths Industries PLC, who owned the freehold of the ground known as ‘Smiths’ and was mainly used by employees. The 19 acre site and clubhouse, built around 1950, had become unsustainable, with only two regular sports teams actively using the venue.
The Club had the good fortune to be offered a three year Lease on the ground in November 2004, with the option to obtain the freehold, within this period.
A Business/Feasibility Plan was prepared and following three years of profitability, the Club was able to raise the funds to purchase the freehold in August 2007. This was first time that the Club had owned its own ground and guaranteed that sport would be played on the venue for ‘ever’.
Below is a list of notable achievements from the past 6 Years.
Buckingham Palace Garden PartyJune 1, 2009
Buckingham Palace Garden Party – David Evans, Club Administrator, invited to a Buckingham Palace Garden Party, in recognition for the Club’s involvement in the Community
Geothermal Heat PumpApril 1, 2010
Geothermal Ground Source Heat Pump installed at Newlands Park as part of an Environmental Plan objective, to reduce energy costs, at a cost of £78K.
RFU RecognitionApril 1, 2010
Club receives the Rugby Football Union, President, Recognition Award, for ‘Community Links’ and runner-up award for Fundraising and More Referees
Queens Award for Voluntary ServiceJune 25, 2010
The Club receives the coveted ‘Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service’ (only the second rugby club), equivalent to an MBE for volunteer groups. Steve Ratcliffe, Club Chairman, invited to Buckingham Palace Garden Party, in recognition of Queen’s Award
Woodlands TrustNovember 1, 2011
Woodlands Trust present 420 saplings to the Club for planting, as part of the Queen’s Jubilee project. Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire, Dame Janet Trotter, planted a ‘royal’ sapling, An objective of the Club to reduce carbon emissions.
Olympic TorchMay 1, 2012
Steve Ratcliffe, Newlands Park Chairman, carries the Olympic Torch through Swindon and receives Torch from Didier Drogba. Later to appear on local television.
World Cup TenderJune 1, 2013
The Rugby Club submit Tender Bid, in partnership with Cheltenham Borough Council, to England 2015, for Cheltenham to be a World Cup Team Base Venue. August 2014 – confirmed bid was successful.
125 Year AnniversaryJanuary 1, 2014
The Rugby Club’s 125th Anniversary celebrations commence with launch party at Newlands Park. This event was followed by eight formal events.
WW1 Heros honouredSeptember 1, 2014
Club honours fallen heroes from World War 1 – Air Vice Marshall Tony Mason unveiled a montage of photos, medals and memorabilia, in remembrance of the eight Club players, who lost their lives during WW1. A formal Dinner followed.
New Zealand RFUNovember 1, 2014
Memories of an iconic match revived. 6 Dec 1905. Cheltenham 0 – NZ 18 pts. Ian MacRae, President of New Zealand, Rugby Football Union, formally opened the ‘President’s Lounge/All Black Museum
William Web Ellis Trophy comes to NewlandsSeptember 11, 2015
Not only did we welcome the physical trophy to Newlands Park, we also opened our arms to the Tongan National rugby team. A truly memorable day for many – a once in a lifetime experience.
Rugby Club of the YearDecember 1, 2015
Cheltenham Rugby Club were voted ‘Rugby Club of the Year 2015’ by Club Mirror Magazine at a gala dinner in Manchester, attended by more than 600 guests.
Unsung Hero AwardJanuary 15, 2016
The Club President, David Townsend attended an awards evening in the Dorchester Hotel in central London where he was presented with an award for Unsung Hero which was presented by World Player of the Year Dan Carter and Wales and Lions great Jamie Roberts.
Wooden Spoon PartnershipApril 1, 2016
Cheltenham Rugby Club are a Wooden Spoon Partner club and were presented with a Wooden Spoon Plaque by Tim Heal to mark our membership of this great rugby charity
Planning approval for MUGAJune 3, 2016
An ambitious plan for the development of a MUGA (Multi Use Games Area) receives planning approval for the borough council.