Columbia Avenue, KT4

Place Name

The Columbia Graphophone Company set up its sports and recreation ground for employees at Manor Park in 1929. The company had bought the main part of the park in two sections, just over seven acres, from the developer Sidney Parkes and the slightly larger north-eastern part from the trustees of a Kingston-based charity founded under the will of William Nicholl in 1726. The company had been founded in 1917 as an offshoot of the American Columbia Phonograph Company, producing the musical cylinders that were a popular entertainment of the time. But the growth of radio left the parent company struggling and in 1922 it sold off its British arm in a management buy-out. The facilities apparently included three football pitches, separate ladies’ and men’s cricket pitches, tennis courts, a bowling green, a polo ground, a putting green, a sand pit and a pavilion. The grounds were opened in June 1929 by Louis Sterling, Columbia’s managing director, with more than 4,000 people attending. A cricket match was held after the formal ceremony and an “old English fair” was set up. In the evening a concert was given in a marquee, and the pavilion used for dancing. The grounds changed hands again in April 1933, this time the reopening of the ground to the public by the Chairman of The Maldens and Coombe Urban District Council. It was known locally as Columbia Recreation Ground.

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