In days before the internet and television, leisure time for the working man and woman was important. Most worked a five and a half or six day week, and many would go to church or chapel on a Sunday morning, and sometimes again in the evening. Although there seems little time left for leisure there were surprisingly many activities that they could participate in.
There were, of course, many public houses, even in the early days of the village. Charles Seely established a club that had billiard tables, a smoking room and a library. Seely also formed a local cricket club and supplied the land for a cricket ground.
PHOTO: Somercotes Cricket Club 2nd XI, 1931
There were many different football teams that were started over the years, including a Birchwood United team and Somercotes Athletic. Riddings Ironworks had a sports ground at Lower Somercotes, which comprised of a football pitch, bowling- green and associated facilities. Leabrooks Miners Welfare on Greenhill Lane also had a football pitch and bowling- green.
PHOTO: Birchwood United Football Team, date unkown
PHOTO: Somercotes & Leabrooks Cricket Club. 1936
As well as sports, there were gardening clubs, flower and vegetable shows, ladies groups and many other social activities. The recreation ground, located neatly between Somercotes and Leabrooks at one time also boasted tennis courts, a bowling-green and a miniature golf course. Sadly, the latter disappeared in the 1970s. In the 1940s Somercotes had three cinemas, although one became the site of the “Everlastic” factory behind Birchwood Lane in the following decade.
Time and changing habits took its toll on many of these leisure facilities. Somercotes no longer has a cricket ground (it was located where the NHS Supplies distribution centre is today), and the only football ground now is at the Somerlea Park Centre. Gone are the facilities at the Leabrooks Miners Welfare, which has been demolished. The Empire cinema has long since closed, and although the Premier cinema became a bingo hall, that too has now ceased trading. Even many of the public houses that were open in the mid-20th century have closed for good.
The parish is not alone in suffering this decline in the community, as nearly every village, town and city in the country will testify. However, the Parish Council and various other organisations have created new leisure facilities that have been built or adapted for the 21st century.
Below are some of the current leisure facilities in Somercotes:
Somercotes Village Hall:
The Village Hall was built around 1970 and was originally known as the St. Thomas Centre, as it was owned by the Church of St Thomas, and situated adjacent to the church.
In the 1990’s the hall was falling into disrepair and it was leased to Somercotes Parish Council in 1995, on a 35 year lease. In 1996-97 the council spent a considerable amount of money refurbishing the building, mainly inside, including the stage, flooring and kitchen facilities. At the time the building was renamed the Parish Hall and the council set up an office in the building. A licensed bar was installed in 2000.
PHOTO: Somercotes Village Hall, 2012
In 2012 it was recognised that the building needed to show more of a community ethos and it was renamed the Village Hall. Further refurbishment by the Parish Council was undertaken in a phased works programme to upgrade the building and its immediate environment.
The Village Hall now functions as a focus for groups who use its main hall, such as the Scouts and Guides movements, art classes and for various clinics. The building is also used as a venue for weddings, christenings, celebratory parties, children’s parties, wakes and other functions.
Somerlea Park Centre:
The Somerlea Park Centre is a modern eco-friendly community building that was funded through the Big Lottery Fund (BLF) (£420k); the Coalfields Regeneration Trust (CRT) (£250k) & the Derby & Derbyshire Enterprise Partnership (DDEP) (£220k). It opened in December 2008. The Centre has a multi-sports flood-lit area and a full size grass football pitch. The building is a local community venue that has a large function hall (like the Village Hall, ideal for weddings, parties and events). The centre also has a licensed bar, conference rooms, a small gym and a community police office. The building is on the Somercotes Recreation Ground with vehicle access via Sherwood Street, Leabrooks.
PHOTO: Somerlea Park Centre, 2012
The link below will take you directly to the Somerlea Park website: