1867: Great day of sporting competition at Ockenden Park


Sussex Agricultural Express - Saturday 05 October 1867

About a fortnight since somebody suggested that Cuckfield should have a day for athletic sports, and the suggestion was hardly made before it was taken up and carried out so successfully that on Thursday last the prize meeting took place, and an excellent day’s sport was enjoyed by all who had the good fortune to be present. As usual, W. W. Burrell, Esquire., took an active part in the affair.


A committee was formed, consisting of all the most influential inhabitants and tradespeople, Mr Burrell being the chairman and by their exertion a sum of about £43 was collected for distribution in prizes. The Ockenden Park cricket ground was placed at their disposal, and Mr Bennett, Gardner to Mr W. W. Burrell, made thereon as good a course as could be found in any ground in the country.


Sir Walter Wyndham Burrell c1870 - colourised (photograph courtesy of Cuckfield Museum)

There was every appliance for high jumping, hurdle racing, and the other items comprised in athletic sports. Robert Loder, Esquire., acted as starter and Judge and admirably performed his duties, while J. Price, Esq., was a most accurate timekeeper, and the Squire of Ockenden assisted everybody who wanted assistance.


The competition commenced at 11 o'clock with a 2 mile walking race, which was won without much difficulty by Bennett in 19 minutes; pretty good time for walking on turf.


Throwing the cricket ball was not up to the mark, for 91 yards was the longest distance thrown. The hundred yards flat race caused an exciting finish with E. Loder and Hounsell, the time, 10 1/2 seconds, being very good.


Mr Loder was not very well, and scratched his name for the quarter mile race, but he succeeded in winning the long jump, with 16'1", and also the high jump, clearing 5 feet; Turner coming second at 4'9", and Mitchell and Bates dividing third prize at 4'7", which height they failed to exceed, after several attempts.


The mile flat race did not present any feature of interest. Bennett won at last by a distance, his superior staying power being apparent over his opponents.

Time, five minutes. 20 seconds.


The quarter mile flat race seemed a "moral" for Hounsell. He led all the way and won as he liked by 50 lengths.


Brown second, and J. W. King a bad third. The lads under 14, for a quarter mile race, as usual, made the pace too hot at starting, but the race was cleverly won by Hollis, in one minute 20 seconds.


In the mile flat race Hounsell led for the first lap, followed by Cooke, but both were in turn passed in the second lap by W. Bailey, Smith lying close up. His forward position, however, was changed in the third lap, where Hounsell again came to the front, maintained his lead and won “any how" by 50 yards, Bailey and Smith being second and third, at long intervals. The time was the best of the day, five minutes.


Hounsell ran in good form, and was evidently better in condition than many of his opponents. In the hurdle race the competition was good, the first three finishing closely together. Gillespie took first prize; Mitchell second, and A. Dumsday third. The half mile flat race for boys under 16 brought nine to the post, among them being one who is quite a giant among his fellows. However he was never in the hunt, and gave in before half the race was run.


The winner turned up in Tyler, a well built little fellow who ran gamely throughout.


In the hurdle race Hounsell added another prize to his list, Dumsday being this time second. The other items do not call for comment. There was a consolation prize, but the great fun of this afternoon took place in the donkey racing, each donkey not ridden by his owner, and the last one to win.


Appended is a return of the prize. We must not forget that Mr Tester, of the Rose and Crown Inn, Cuckfield, supplied capital refreshments, in a capacious marquee on the ground, at moderate charges.


In the course of the afternoon gratuity was presented to Mr Bennett, for the travel and time he had expended in preparing the ground.


Mr R Loder presented the amount, and while thanking him for his exertions, took occasion to thank Mr W.W. Burrell for the use of the ground, and his kindness in organising the days sports.


Mr W. W. Burrell very briefly expressed the pleasure it gave him to see the success which had attended the meeting, and thanked Mr Loder and Mr Price for the valuable assistance they had rendered.


He hoped that as the sports had been once said on foot they would continue to be held every year for a long time to come. Three hearty cheers were then given for each of the above named gentlemen. During the day Mr Burrell’s private band played some choice selections of music.


Mr Ambrose Dumsday was a presiding honorary secretary and did good service to the committee.



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