Originally formed as Bensham RFC in 1873. The early years have been summarised by Brian Durham….
THE BUILDING OF A CLUB…..
Bensham RFC was formed in 1873 but disbanded in 1876 and then became part of North Durham, which had been formed in 1875.
May 27th 1907 saw the formation of the new Bensham RFC. which shared a ground with Esconians RFC at High Teams. The cost of renting the ground was £8.15.00 per year.
In 1921 it was proposed that the name be changed to Gateshead Fell Rugby Football Club and that the team would play at a ground adjacent to Low Fell railway station. This ground would be accessible by either train or tram.
In 1922 “The Fell” secured a lease from Lord Northbourne on an excellent ground situated south of Gateshead Fell Cricket Club. In 1925 shares would be sold to raise funds to buy the ground for £5000.
In the late twenties, athletic meetings, tennis matches and cycling events took place on the pitches! A wooden stand was built in 1926.
The mid thirties saw the club running 6 sides and artificial lights for training were introduced. A pitch-and-put golf course was also introduced around this time.
In 1938 the ground was officially opened as Hedley Lawson Park to perpetuate the memory of Hedley Lawson who had done so much work for the club.
In 1946, North Durham and the Fell turned out a combined XV as North Durham’s field had been used by the army during the war.
The mid fifties to the mid sixties saw the building of new dressing rooms (now the lounge) at a cost of £1,750 and later the bar and hall at a cost of £5,500. Almost the Clubhouse of today.
The ground was levelled in 1960, to provide the two level pitches we see today. This meant that matches had to be played on pitches at the southern end of the Team Valley, where De La Rue factory now stands.
Later in the 1960s a new stand with dressing rooms beneath was built on the western edge of the ground, after the old wooden, building in south eastern corner of the ground, was burned down.
Once these new dressing rooms under the stand were completed and occupied, the Clubhouse was modified to provide a lounge bar and extended cellar.
Later still, the lounge was extended, committee room and office added and new toilets for ladies and gents.
The most recent changes to enhance the club were a gymnasium, added to the southern end of the stand, which was eventually modified to provide a dressing room, smaller gym and a match officials room.
During the very early years Bensham RFC was one of the seven clubs that founded the Durham County Rugby Football Union (DCRFU) on 10 October 1876.
The other clubs were
- Durham University
This page is under construction and will be updated from time to time.