A letter from the YMCA to the Mitcham & Tooting Mercury in 1919 sets out their plan for Park Place.
THE MITCHAM PARK PLACE SCHEME.
To the Editor of “ The Mercury.”
The following is a rough outline of the scheme which we hope to carry out at Park Place.
Park Place and grounds is a very large house, standing in about eleven acres of ground. There are two large meadows, a tennis court, lawns, part of which will be used as a bowling green, a large garden and orchard. In the main part of the building there are five rooms upstairs, which we hope to run as a hostel for about ten men and there is also a large room which will be used as a games room. Downstairs we have arranged for a restaurant, ’billiard room and a music room and library, and a private room for the exclusive and permanent use of the secretary of the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers. To satisfy the one need of a large hall for concerts, lectures and other activities, we hope to transfer the hut in the hospital to these grounds as soon as it is not required at the hospital.
We are planning to carry out a very extensive social and sports programme, and we hope to form cricket, football, tennis, bowling, quoits and boxing clubs, to hold frequent sports meetings and to arrange billiard tournaments and to organise whist drives. We expect to be able to carry out an educational programme by arranging lectures and classes and study circles and by running a library. On Saturday afternoons and evenings in the summer, we shall try to arrange al fresco teas and concerts on the lawn, and on Sunday afternoons it is my hope that, in co-operation with the religious denominations in Mitcham, we shall be able to arrange for some sort of united religious service.
As the Mitcham Golf Course is so near we may find it possible to form a golf club. In addition to those activities, which we can arrange for ourselves, I am sure it will be possible for us to secure well-known concert parties, lecturers and demonstrations in all kinds of sport by well-known amateurs and professionals.
There will be an advisory committee formed from the members of the club and then I hope that we shall be able to form a ladies’ auxiliary committee. Mrs. Cato Worsfold, whose splendid work in connection with the hospital hut, is well known, has kindly consented to be president of this committee, and Miss Holden will be the secretary. This committee will be responsible for recruiting and organising ladies’ voluntary assistance. While on this question, I would like to throw out a strong appeal to the gentlemen of the district to associate themselves with the club and to assist us in every possible way to form the various sports clubs.
Such is the bare outline of the different activities, which we hope to carry out here. A thousand other things suggest themselves. My own feeling is that here we have a magnificent opportunity to build up a strong social and sports club, which will be the very centre of social activities in Mitcham, and in regard to sport, an organisation which can become a real power house in the realm of amateur athletics. Now, this can only lie done by utilising every ounce of local support. We must all pull the same way with the same ideals. There is no resident in Mitcham who cannot contribute in service and subscription (I put service first).
Now a word as to membership. All men over the age of sixteen years will be admitted to the buildings and grounds free. Perhaps, I may put in a word here on the position of the Mitcham branch of the Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers Federation. For the permanent and exclusive use as an office and committee room of the federation, one of the rooms downstairs has been set aside. For the ordinary activities of the scheme, members of the Federation will become members of the Red Triangle Club. The federation will be allowed the exclusive use, not more than twice a week, of one or more of the large rooms for the purposes of general meetings, Federation whist drives, small concerts, etc. The whole catering arrangements will always be in the hands of the Y.M.C.A.
Every man wishing to use the club will be given a membership ticket which will entitle him to one month’s free membership. At the expiration of this period this card may be renewed to extend over a period not exceeding twelve months. My idea is that if it proves financially possible to do so, we should endeavour to put these clubs on the same basis as the Y.M.C.A. huts. They should be open to all men at all times free of charge. Later on it may be necessary — indeed the numbers themselves may require it — for us to charge a small membership fee. The different sports clubs will, of course, have their own membership fees. This will be fixed by the members of the clubs themselves. The only regulations enforced in regard to the formation of these clubs will be those applying to the particular kind of sport and a very strict rule prohibiting any form of gambling.
Now, a word as to the admission of ladies. We would like very much to carry out a joint work for both sexes, but unfortunately our space will not permit this at the moment. I think that we can and should arrange for the ladies to join our sports clubs, especially the tennis club, and that the members of the club should be encouraged to bring their wives and lady friends to the concerts, whist drives, and the Saturday afternoon al fresco concerts and teas.
Men and women have grown to love healthy club life and if every spare shilling and every spare hour were spent in the establishment of these clubs, I am convinced that a great many of our social problems would disappear. Men and women to-day are waiting for the opportunity to serve their fellows as much as to be served.
As to the opening. The formal opening has been arranged to take place on Saturday, the 10th May. at 5.15 p.m. Dr. T. Cato Worsfold, M.P., has kindly consented to occupy the chair on this occasion. Sir Arthur K. Yapp, K.B.E., will speak on the after-war programme of the Y.M.C.A. It is hoped to secure the presence of a well known personage. On the 10th May the house and grounds will be thrown open to the public from 2.30 p.m., and teas will be served in the grounds from 3.30 p.m. at popular prices. As this will be the occasion of the formal entry of the Mitcham Branch of the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers, a demonstration will be made by ex-service men before the opening ceremony. The Secretary and members of the local branch are busy arranging a procession which will march round Mitcham headed by bands. The Y.M.C.A. extends to everyone a hearty invitation to attend this important function.
I am, yours sincerely,
Thos. B. Scotcher.
Source: Mitcham & Tooring Mercury, 2nd May, 1919 page 5