top of page

Cricket Ground / Three Hills Sports Park

Prior to the cricket ground being flattened & built, the area appears to have bene relatively open & flat anyway, so an ideal location for a cricket ground. The earliest evidence I have of any sporting use on the current cricket ground site, is baseball! From the excellent Folkestone Baseball Chronicles: "21st August 1915, this was a practice before a match... The main diamond was further back (behind the photographer) on the Cricket ground proper - with home plate nestled under the old pavilion*. The game was between the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles and Eaton's Motor Machine Gun Battery (Eaton's featured a number of British born players who'd mostly been sent to Canada as British Home Children - one of the players, though he didn't play that day, was actually Folkestone born, Stanley Maxted who went on to have a famous career in broadcasting)."

* the pavilion wasn't built until 1925.

1915 Folkestone Baseball Chronicle.jpg

They go on to say: " The Cricket Ground was the premier location for the top billing games but a lot of baseball was played (over 250 games in June 1918 alone)".

As mentioned in the 1900-1930 section of this website, the cricket club moved from the current football ground site to the next door current cricket ground site in 1925.

The pavilion, built at a cost of £1000  (over £60000 modern equivalent), the cash being advanced by Lord Radnor, was designed by architect Reginald Pope who acted in an honorary capacity. The seating was, and still is, steeply terraced and commands an uninterrupted view beyond the play to the North Downs.

The pictures below show the pavilion and terraces being built in 1925, and the scoreboard in 1926.

1925 KPA Pavillion.jpg
Kent Photo Archive.jpg

Picture credit: Shepway District Council / KentPhotoArchive

1925 KPA Terraces.jpg
Kent Photo Archive.jpg

Picture credit: Shepway District Council / KentPhotoArchive

1926 KPA scoreboard.jpg
Kent Photo Archive.jpg

Picture credit: Shepway District Council / KentPhotoArchive

Upkeep of the new pitch appeared paramount. Information from Paul Skelton via Bob Hollingsbee collection  indicated the following (including the grainy newspaper cutting photo): "Paul Greenstreet, of Hawkinge, thought readers might be interested to read of great annual cricket festivals held at the Cheriton Road sports ground in bygone years. “My grandfather, Eustace Pickard, a broad Yorkshireman, was head groundsman for Folkestone Corporation in the late 20s, through the 30s, up to, and just after the Second World war,” Paul told me. He lived in a pretty tied cottage, within the confines of the sports ground, which became the home of Paul’s mother, now in her early 90s. Eustace was not only responsible for the upkeep of the pitches and surrounds but for raising all the bedding plants for the parks and the town’s floral displays."

1930s cricket ground.jpg

The "pretty tied cottage" mentioned above is likely to be the Lodge, as shown in 1926:-

1926 KPA the Lodge.jpg
Kent Photo Archive.jpg

Picture credit: Shepway District Council / KentPhotoArchive

The location of this Lodge appears to be in the current back garden of number 13 Cornwallis Avenue & Morrison's car park! See the location of the Lodge on the right hand side of the 1946 aerial view, & compare to a similar view from 2021 (the line of the wall on the east side of the cricket ground at the top of the picture is a good reference line):-

1946 BFA the Lodge .jpg

Picture credit: Britain From Above (Historic England)

2021 Google Maps the Lodge location.jpg

{Picture credit: Google Maps

In 1926 Kent met the M.C.C. and this was the earliest first-class fixture in which the county team appeared, followed in 1928 when Kent played Worcester in the first game of the cricket week. Although played only intermittently since 1928 the Folkestone cricket week became an annual event since 1961.

The ground appeared popular with visiting sides. Below is a still from a video from Herne Hill Cricket Kent Tour, June 1932. There are plenty of views of the ground in the vide, from 40 seconds through to 2 minutes 52 seconds. The still is taken at 1 minute into the video and clearly shows the roofed terracing in the distance, with the pavilion peeking into the left hand side of the photograph. These practice nets are up against the wall of the back gardens of houses on Cornwallis Avenue. Click on the picture to be taken to the full video:-

1932 Herne Hill CC video.jpg

Very little appeared to change since the original buildings being built in the late 1920s. The photo above from 1946 shows the eastern terrace roof with damage. Highly likely that this from an explosive bomb that hit the cricket ground during the second world war. Similar damage occurred to the football ground and the Harvey Grammar school. See the applicable pages of this website for details. My grandfather stationed as a lookout on the cricket pavilion roof was pretty lucky on thsi occasion. Just as well there was a first aid patrol stationed here.

The photo below is probably from the 1950s or 1960's, and shows very little change from the 1920's:-

1965 cricket ground.jpg

Picture credit: The Cricketer International

Like other sports facilities in the Cheriton Road complex, the cricket ground had other uses.

As a child I remember taking part in primary school sports days there in the 1970's.. 

The Cheriton cricket ground was one of the main venues for the Folkestone Folklore Festive which ran every other year from 1961 till well into the 1980s. Below is an oil painting of one such event in and a typical newspaper cutting, both from 1961.

1961 Folkestone Folklore Festival1 (Patr
1961 Folkestone Folklore Festival 2 (Pat
Golf club 'bunkers'

Picture credit: Patricia Rivers

Picture credit: Patricia Rivers

Further to the alternative uses, here is the programme for the Silver Jubilee 1977 Junior Championship held by the Hockey Association on the Cheriton Road cricket pitch. It also has a photo in it that shows the layout of the pitches  It is highly likely that the pitches photo is from the 1960s or even earlier, as the Martin Walter factory roof can be seen in the bottom left of the photograph. Also there appears to be nothing in the distance, where the Park Farm part of Folkestone is now located, and much of that area was built in the 1970s. Highly likely that the 'craters' are bunkers from the Folkestone Golf Club that closed down in 1965. However, it's still a fantastic photo, showing lots of detail of the Cheriton Road sports complex.

1977 cric ground hockey prog Folkestoneh

Picture credit: Folkestonehistory Kent

1977 cric ground hockey photo Folkestone

As mentioned before, there was very little change over the years. The photo below was provided to me by Kent's Sporting Memories and they believed the photo to be from the 1960's, which seems reasonable (black & white photo; maybe the fashions of the spectators). However at the left of the photo the supermarket in the background, identified by its triangular roof gables, was built in 1989. The pavilion though was timeless.

1989 Kents Sporting Memories.jpg

Picture credit: Kent's Sporting Memories

Kent Cricket Club continued to play an annual match at Folkestone until 1991. The last first-class game hosted there was when Kent beat Cambridge University in July 1995.

About this time the roofing on the terraces either side of the pavilion were removed as a safety measure.

The venue was home to a number of sports clubs (Folkestone cricket Club, Folkestone Optimists Hockey Club) and in 2007, the facilities were in a very poor condition and not fit for purpose.

Three Hills Sports Park opened in Cheriton Road, Folkestone, after a £6.8 million investment by Roger De Haan Charitable Trust.

Roger encouraged clubs to develop ambitious plans to expand the range of amenities at the site and funded the design and build of a magnificent new building. Guy Hollaway is the architect responsible for the building. Guy is from Herne Bay, and started his career in Hythe at Cheney and Thorpe architects. Other local Folkestone work by his company Guy Hollaway Architects include Urban Skate Park, Rocksalt restaurant and The Smokehouse, Fountain Square, The Workshop offices in Tontine Street, Folkestone Primary Academy, etc. 

Folkestone and Hythe District Council has provided a long lease, which safeguards provision of the new facilities for 125 years, while a new independent trust has been established to manage and maintain the pitches and buildings to the highest standard

During construction the site was visited by archaeologists due to past Stone Age findings. This meant it was necessary for extra care to be taken when undertaking groundworks: In 2011 an evaluation of nine trenches on land at Folkestone Cricket Club, Cheriton Road by Archeology South East produced features of late Iron Age to early Roman and pottery sherds from the Neolithic, Bronze age, Medieval and Post-medieval periods

The project involved a range of synthetic sports surfaces to cover a variety of sports. These were provided by McArdle Sport Tec 

2007 McArdle-Sport-Tec-3-Hills-Sports-Ce

Picture credit: McArdle Sport Tec

However glorious the 1925 pavilion may have been, it's time had come. In 2012 the cricket club and hockey club said goodbye to it and it was demolished. A commemorative programme was produced which included some excellent historical information and photographs.

2012 Pavilion 1 Kents Sporting Memories.
2012 Pavilion 3 Kents Sporting Memories.
2012 Pavilion 2 Kents Sporting Memories.
2012 Pavilion 4 Kents Sporting Memories.

Picture credit: Kent's Sporting Memories

This was the condition of the pavilion at the time of demolition in 2012. as a sporting stadia historian this breaks my heart, but I suppose you can't stop progress.

2012 Pavilion 1 IanDJohnstone.jpg

Picture credit: Legends Of Folkestone

2012 Pavilion 2 IanDJohnstone.jpg

Picture credit: Ian D Johnstone

In 2019 baseball returned to the cricket ground after 100 years! As the excellent Folkestone Baseball Chronicle recounts: "I organized the first ballgame to be played in Folkestone in 100 years – the Buccaneers Baseball Travel Team (representing England) played the Canuk Warriors (the Canadian Armed Forces in the UK) for whom I was an honorary roster member. Just days before the first London series, and with free advertising only by virtue of word of mouth, social media and radio interviews – we pulled in over 200 spectators."

2019 Folkestone Baseball Chronicle.jpg

In 2019 planning was approved for an athletics track at the bottom of the site, effectively on what remained of the Polo Ground. This is covered in the Polo Ground part of the website.

bottom of page