Refurbishment at The Rectory
After over 100 years of service the famous grandstand at The Rectory, home of Devonport Services RFC, is being taken down.
For 109 years the grandstand at The Rectory, home of Devonport Services RFC, has been a prominent feature of the Plymouth skyline but in 2004 it was sadly condemned as a fire hazard. The “Old Lady” has seated generations of supporters and witnessed matches against the USA, New Zealand, Argentina and Canada as well as club, Navy Cup and Inter-Service games. Having been delayed for several years, the demolition of the wooden structure has begun, funded by the MOD and driven by former club Chairman Commodore Peter Coulson RN.
Before the demolition could start, volunteer club members led by Kieran Leach removed everything from under the stand. Local contractors Totus and Brunel then began the hard work by removing the roof panels and dismantling the woodwork. Although the grandstand has been a longstanding part of The Rectory, time had not been kind to the Old Lady and the internal structure was found to be in poor condition.
With any project comes unforeseen problems and after the removal of a large part of the stand, the footpath adjacent to the pitch was found to be unstable and likely to fall into the car park. Site Manager Howard Dunn has worked closely with Totus and Brunel to solve these issues, and Brunel quickly produced an interlocking wall to hold up the failing footpath. The electrical supply to the club has been upgraded, the interior and exterior have been painted and the alarm system was upgraded free of charge by club member Joe Page. The Executive Committee have also taken the opportunity to upgrade the laundry facilities and the bar area with their own funds. Where the stand once stood, five steel containers now house a laundry facility, storerooms and other infrastructure essential for the day-to-day running of the club. Fortunately, there has been minimal disruption to rugby during the refurbishment, as this work has been carried out over the course of several national lockdowns.
The Royal Navy Rugby Union has always viewed The Rectory as a key part of Navy Rugby development and has supported Devonport Services RFC with their own improvements and development for many years. Although the Old Lady will be missed, this long-awaited project will hopefully carry the club and Navy Rugby towards a brighter future. Those who have played on the pitch will miss the shelter from the prevailing south-westerly wind and rain and will no doubt have to re-learn the vagaries of the flight of the ball around the pitch but ironically, the removal of the grandstand has also provided extra standing space and increased the spectator capacity at The Rectory.
Devonport Services RFC would like to thank all those who have enabled this project to go ahead with such success.
By line: Mike Yeats
Devonport Services RFC.
Images:© Devonport Services RFC