Decline and Re-emergence
The early eighties proved to be a time of many changes on the Shaw Lane scene. The loss of the Yorkshire County games proved a catalyst for the demise of the cricketing side of the club.
Other sports recognised the potential of Shaw Lane and it was in this period that the squash club came to the fore and took over the running of the site. The tennis club, once thriving, lost members due to the parlous state of the tarmac courts and eventually folded, The courts were used as car park.
Two sections that were founded in the seventies also came to the fore and contributed greatly to the sporting and social aspect of the club. These were very successful in their own sporting fields, namely the Barnsley Ladies Hockey Club and the Barnsley Archery Club, who both provided international players.
Members of the club visiting Websters Brewery in Halifax in 1989. The photo shows a cross section of members, ranging from bowls through hockey to pool and squash.
Throughout the eighties the committee were in constant negotiation with the Shaw Lands Trust who were then owners of the free hold of the ground. Previously the lease had been granted at a peppercorn rent of round £70pa. Government legislation was introduced around this time which prevented such cosy arrangements and the financial future of the club was in constant doubt. Large rental payments stifled any attempts at growth and the club lurched from crisis to crisis.
It was against this backdrop of uncertainty and constant under-investment that the Shaw Lands Trust decided to put the freehold of the ground up for sale. The club was now at its lowest ebb, the hockey section having left the site, this, together with the state of cricket section who almost folded at this point, meant that the standard of sport had never been so poor at the club.
The asking price of £300,000 was beyond the means of the Barnsley C & AC, however the Barnsley RUFC had just sold their Stairfoot Ground to a supermarket and were looking for a new home. The deal was done and the new owners promised that sport would be the number one priority, despite rumours of selling the land for housing. The new landlords had to act quickly as the facilities were in a parlous state. The club were unable to afford money for security and no full time employees were left to enforce security. Drug taking and burnt out stolen cars were constant reminders that the ground was not fit for purpose as the 21st century approached.
The site was taken over in the nick of time by Barnsley RUFC in 1996, who purchased the free hold from the Shaw Lands Trust. Improvements to the site commenced immediately afterwards.
The picture shows the laying of the foundation stone of the new clubhouse in 2000 (pictured left to right, David West (BRUFC President) Lord Mason of Barnsley, Steve Redford (Contractor), Mick Marshall (BRUFC Secretary), Mick Dewsnap (General Manager))
Inrernational cricket made a comeback to the club in 2010 with Shaw Lane hosting a womens one day international match against New Zealand. County Bowls, Squash and Rugby Union matches are held at Shaw Lane regularly.
A visitor to Shaw Lane in 1995 would not recognise the place due to the progress that has been made since those dark days. Continued investment and progress made by all sections of the club reflect the certainty that an interested landlord brings.