How Corbridge Cricket Club rose again – from the ground up
Sitting on a flood plain, Corbridge CC in Northumberland had been used to natural disasters.
The club had survived floods before but their defences were no match for Storm Desmond, which destroyed their clubhouse in December 2015.
“There was no way of stopping Desmond,” laments Michael Robinson, honorary secretary of Corbridge CC. “With a month and half’s rain, the river rose 24 feet in 20 hours and was the highest it’s ever been recorded in Corbridge.”
The water reached the crossbars of the rugby posts at the nextdoor club. The cricket club’s entire facility was under six feet of water and had to be knocked down.
Emergency grants from ECB and Sport England helped the club function the following summer but the bigger challenge was rebuilding the clubhouse. “The river authority said that the rules and regulations of building close to flood defences had changed over the years,” explains Robinson.
“If we wanted a building on the ground on the same footprint then it would have to be six or seven metres from the wall. The old clubhouse was only two metres from the wall and we couldn’t lose that amount of ground. Also, the cost of protecting a building on the ground from floods was going to be absolutely monstrous.
“What they did say though, was if we built up then we would likely get our permission. The idea being that if it gets flooded then the water goes underneath and doesn’t put any pressure on the flood wall. So that’s what we did – we proposed to build a new clubhouse just over five feet off the ground.”
Including fixtures and fitting, the costs were around £370,000, of which the ECB contributed £228,000. The rest came from Northumberland County Council, insurance, club fundraising, private donations and other charitable trusts.Designed by a local architect, the new clubhouse is simple but extremely practical.
“It’s a rectangular box that is raised off the ground,” says Robinson. “It’s on a concrete base so that if the floods did exceed previous levels then the structure would be sound and the only affected areas would be things like carpets.”
The clubhouse has a low gradient disabled access ramp and rainwater harvesting with a large tank used to water the square. “It’s aesthetically pleasing and an enjoyable place to be,” he says. “An unintended consequence of us being raised up is that it’s a great place to view the cricket.”
“Everybody loves the clubhouse and we’ve reconnected with the local community in a massive way thanks to it,” says Robinson. The building is in demand – not just for club members and cricket folk but from local businesses and individuals hosting events, parties and dinners.
“Before the flood our club was only open on matchdays and we might take £3,500 behind the bar annually,” says Robinson.
“Recently we’ve been turning over £20,000 per annum.”
When ECB launched its All Stars Cricket programme in 2017 for five to eight year olds, Corbridge hosted around 70 children at the club, a number that has risen close to a hundred in subsequent years.
The club is a hive of activity. Home games for men’s and women’s sides at weekends, training nights during the week and there’s the quoits, which has taken off in a big way at Corbridge. “The quoits team train midweek, so that’s about 20 people down on a Wednesday night,” says Robinson. “In the peak of the season there are not many days when there is not something happening.”
He concludes: “Sometimes you can be unlucky, like with Storm Desmond, but then sometimes things turn out for the better, particularly if you are prepared to react positively and put in the hard work.”