Her Royal Highness the Princess Mary Viscountess Lascelles officially opened Niagara Recreation Ground and Pavilion on Thursday 23rd August, 1928. A fitting ceremony to mark over two years hard work and effort by the City of Sheffield Police Recreation Society to acquire the land, lay out the grounds and build the Pavilion.

 

An old photo of Niagara


The City of Sheffield Police Watch Committee purchased the land, a former Victorian tip, from the Duke of Norfolk, with a supplementary Exchequer Grant of £3,700. A National Police Fund Grant of £1,000 to the Recreation Society enabled the laying out of the grounds.

The National Police Fund was set up in 1926 in appreciation of the demands placed on Police Forces during the General Strike, the aim of the fund being ‘The general welfare and benefit of members of police forces of Great Britain by the provision of recreational and other facilities calculated to promote their efficiency, for educational grants for policemen and their dependants and for the support of charities for the benefit of such persons being necessitous’. The Fund is still in existence today and makes, on application, an annual grant to the South Yorkshire Police Sports & Social Club, additionally if it can be shown that the grant will be used on facilities benefiting retired members the amount is doubled. Our Club benefits from the increased sum.

In 1926 the Chief Constable of The City of Sheffield Police and President of the then Police Recreation Society was Capt. P. J. Sillitoe (later famous for his role in policing the Sheffield Gang Wars). The 673 members of the Recreation Society paid a weekly subscription of 2d (old pence) per week.

The pavilion at Niagara cost £2,530 to build. The money was borrowed from a bank by way of a long-term loan, but although full use of the grounds and pavilion were made to raise additional funds, by the early 1930’s all of the Societies subscriptions were being used to service the loan.

As the driving force behind the provision of the grounds and facilities for the welfare of his officers and their families the Chief Constable approached the Home Secretary of the day and it was agreed the loan would be settled by the Home Office and the building, in addition to the land, would pass to the ownership of the Watch Committee. To this day the grounds and buildings are owned and maintained by the Police Authority. The Sports & Social Club holding a long-term licence to share the premises.

Throughout the years good use has been made of the facilities which include, or have included, outdoor terraces, running & athletics track, large children’s play area (now police dog training centre) football, hockey, rugby & cricket pitches, bowling green, tennis courts and garden. In its day a popular addition was the indoor games room built close to the pavilion. As the sporting and recreational needs of the membership have changed so the pavilion and grounds have evolved.

Over the years Official Parades, Police Athletic Association Championships, Families Days, Sports Days, Competition Finals, Coaching Days and the Star Walk have all been staged at the ground, whilst the Pavilion has developed into a modern Conference & Leisure Centre with a licensed bar.

In the early days, following the Police Strikes of 1919, the emphasis was on sport & recreation and the facilities remained much the same until the late 1960’s when the Mounted & Dog Sections moved to Niagara. Housed in new stables and buildings on the site of the little used children’s play area, the horses & dogs quickly became a firm favourite with families visiting the grounds, enhancing the feeling of the police family. The Amalgamation with the Rotherham Borough Police in June, 1967 saw the formation of the Sheffield and Rotherham Constabulary and an enlarged Club Membership. Seven years later as the result of Local Government reorganisation the The South Yorkshire Police Sports & Social Club came into being, new opportunities opened up and the natural progression continued. (See Birth of the Registered Club.)