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Tyne and Wear HER(16863): Whitley Bay, Rockcliffe Rugby Football Club - Details

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N Tyneside

Whitley Bay, Rockcliffe Rugby Football Club

Whitley Bay



Sports Ground

Rugby Football Ground




Rockcliffe Rugby Football Club was officially formed in 1887, but an earlier club had the same name. Its first ground was a field on Grafton Road in Whitley Bay above Table Rocks swimming pool. It had an ornate oriental-style pavilion, a refreshment kiosk from the North East Coast Exhibition at Tynemouth in 1882. The rugby team included several Cullercoats fishermen. They won the Northumberland Senior Cup in 1890. In 1892 Ernest 'Little Billee' Taylor became the first of eight Rockcliffe players to be capped. He was appointed England Captain in 1894. In 1901 housing developments forced the club to move a mile or so north. In 1905 they had to move again to make way for a funfair (later Spanish City). In 1907 the rugby club laid out a ground on a field north east of Hill Heads brickworks. By 1909 the club became Rockcliff (dropped the second 'e'). A grandstand was put up in 1922 on the south side of the pitch. It cost £700 and held 600 spectators. It opened for the Northumberland County Rugby Union trial in October 1922. On 20 April 1929 dirt track racing was introduced in an adjacent field. It was organised by Tyneside Speedways Ltd of Cross Street, Newcastle. A 400 yard dirt track was laid out. 4000 people watched over 30 races. Harry Whitfield of Middlesbrough won the Whitley Golden Helmet. 12 speedway meetings were staged at Hillheads, the last was on 26 June 1929. The club closed during World War Two. The 1922 stand and pavilion were demolished in the 1950s. In 1964 the current clubhouse opened. The site of the speedway track is now a second rugby pitch. In 1984-5 Rockcliff was able to buy the ground and its two pitches. Their strip is red and yellow.




Lynn Pearson, 2010, Played in Tyne and Wear - Charting the heritage of people at play, p 62-63, 64

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