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Celebrating Sixty Years at Bickleigh Down

3 weeks ago By Richard Belli

The clubhouse was officially opened in September 1958

“This will prove a great fillip for and will be a major addition to rugby in the district.” Herb Stanbury, ex-England international forward

This month marks a significant anniversary for Argaum in moving to its current home in time for the opening of the 1958-59 season. The club had been nomadic for its first 70 years playing at Plympton and Estover until an opportunity came about when the Hitchins family purchased land on the outskirts of Plymouth in the mid 1950s. Land was made available for the building of a clubhouse and pitches and in 1956-57 planning permission was obtained from the Plympton Planning Authority, submissions being made by long-standing club member Reg Gurling.

A loan was obtained from the RFU and a building fund established which was generously contributed to by former players. The current members chipped in with the building work throughout the summer of 1957 ably lead by Tom Hitchins, Norman White, Colin Whiting and two matelots in charge of the concrete mixer; Leading Seaman Lofty Burston and his assistant Petty Officer (scrum half) Dodger Long. A foundation stone, donated by former player Bill Westlake was laid in June 1957 in a ceremony attended by Lord Mayor and former Argaum player Leslie Paul.

Work continued throughout the following season with Sundays being earmarked for working parties and the clubhouse was officially opened for use on September 3rd 1958. The ceremony was attended by former England international forward and Devon RFU president Herb Stanbury who declared "This will prove a great fillip for and will be a major addition to, rugby in the district." Mr G.S. Thompson, chairman of Plympton Rural District Council, broke the club's flag above Bickleigh Down for the first time whilst congratulations were also added by Plymouth City Mayor G.J. Wingett. The club, as now being on the border of the two local authorities.

The new facility had 3 changing rooms, an extensive clubroom with bar facilities, a referee's room, a plunge bath with showers, a kitchen and cloakrooms. At the time of opening only one pitch had been brought into use at the playing fields and this was reserved for the recently formed colts XV on the account of them not having transport. The senior teams continued to play at Plymbridge and travel back to the clubhouse after matches. It was to be another couple of seasons before all four pitches were available at Bickleigh Down. Further extensions to the clubhouse were added in time for the clubs 75th anniversary a couple of years later.

Updated 23:33 - 27 Sep 2018 by Richard Belli

Where next?

Argaum Agree Lovell Rugby Deal Plymouth Argaum have become an associate partner of Lovell Rugby

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