History

Early attempts to form a Club in Stroud In 1871 and again in 1872 appear to have been unsatisfactory, but in October 1873 a Stroud Rugby Football Club was launched "under very favourable auspices". Stroud first played in a field adjoining Stratford Court, by courtesy of a local gentleman J. Watts Hellewell, who was also the Club's President and appear to have used this ground until 1876/77 when the unfortunate death of H. C. Holloway during a match led to a request to the Club to find another home.

They moved across the road to a pitch at Farmhill where they stayed until the 1884/85 season, then going on to Fromehall the current site. The conditions were somewhat primitive on the ground at first, the teams having to change at The Ship Inn at Wallbridge. During this period of time, the Club took a leading part with Clifton in forming the County Union in October 1878. Until 1932 the ground was rented from Stroud Football and Athletic Ground Limited of which one John Rowell was a director - he was Managing Clerk to the Stroud Solicitors 'Little & Bloxam' whose Senior Partner was the Club's President W. R. Bloxam.

In 1931 Mr. Rowell had control of the freehold by virtue of a mortgage. Feeling unable to continue the situation created, presumably by a moribund company and a mortgage in arrears, he informed the Club that if it did not purchase the Park, he would have to put it on the market. The matter must have gone further than this for there was a public outcry at the likelihood of rugby football losing what was probably the only possible playing field at that time. Club officials appealed privately to some loyal supporters and were able to raise over £1000.

Of this £500 came by way of a loan from Mr. G. A. Mathews who later made it an outright gift, £500 on mortgage from a Mr. C. Ashman Carter and gifts from Mr. Frederick Steel and others. The balance of the £1,750. needed was obtained on loan from the Bank. The mortgage to Mr. Carter was repaid in 1937 but the Bank loan lingered on until the Supporters' Club was able to provide the funds to clear it soon after the war. By selling to the Club, John Rowell sacrificed some profit and it should be recorded that his family was equally forbearing in giving up their right to an option on a resale of part of the land.

By 1950 it was clear something had to be done about providing changing rooms and better stand facilities at Fromehall Park. For many years players had to change at The Bell Hotel in Wallbridge and make their way in their kit to the ground which was about half a mile away. It was a time of continued austerity as far as building was concerned and the first step was to level and reposition the playing pitch. Some 1,500 tons of soil were removed during which time the weather was rather unkind and the ground took time to settle down. There was an enormous amount of voluntary help given by members and friends with outstanding contributions made by those concerned. Concurrently with the work on the playing field, plans were entered for approval and a building licence to re-erect the old Main Stand and to build on the Dudbridge side what is now the lower deck of the Club Rooms and Dressing accommodation. The Ministry of Works gave a flat refusal in February 1950 but by June the Club had secured the backing of the Rugby Football Union and, in particular, Sir Wavell Wakefield, the ex-Captain of England and MP for Swindon. He lobbied and secured a sympathetic response from within the House and the application was re-submitted for approval. This work was completed for the 1951/52 season with a lot of "do-it-yourself" assistance and Bank Overdraft.

The second stage of the Clubhouse building was completed in the Summer of 1963 with the help of a £4,000 loan from West Country Breweries. Sir Wavell Wakefield opened the first stage of the Clubhouse which, since 1963, has made it possible to entertain many famous figures from the world of rugby. To name but a few - Cliff Morgan, Mickey Steele-Bodger, Sandy Sanders, Albert Agar (all Chairmen of the England Selectors) and local Gloucester and England stars such as Tommy Voyce, Mike Burton and Mike Teague as well as the great Carwyn James of British Lions' fame all came through the doors of Stroud Rugby Club.

During the 50s and 60s regular fixtures were established with the now Premiership Clubs Gloucester, Bristol and Bath and pre the advent of leagues and professionalism sides such as Leicester, Llanelli, Rosslyn Park, Nuneaton, Rugby, Wasps, Exeter, Plymouth, Birmingham Stourbridge and Esher all appeared on Stroud's list of opponents.

County games were played at Fromehall Park and during the 80s BUSA Colleges' Final between the University of Cardiff and Brunel College London was held mid-week generating a crowd of around 3,000 spectators.

In the mid 70s a Stroud 7s Competition was won by a team from the mighty Cardiff club which was comprised of a number of Welsh Internationals and captained by the brother of the great Welsh International Bleddyn Williams.

During the 70s, 80s and 90s County players emerged from the playing complement of the club to represent Gloucestershire, Cornwall, Durham, Surrey and Dorset and Wilts. International caps have been won by ex-Stroud players - for Scotland in 1874 by H. H. Hamilton and for England in 1894 by Charles Hooper, 1938 by Graham Parker, 1950 by John V. Smith, 1951 by Charles Peter Woodruffe, 2006 by Tim Payne and 2007 by Nick Abendenon.

In 1956/57 Stroud became the first senior club in Gloucestershire to form a Colts XV and subsequently there has been massive growth in the Junior Rugby Section to create age group teams from 7 up to 19 years with a current complement of over 250 players, all of whom are in action most Sunday mornings.

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