Counties - Media Guide to the Grounds (2013)

Kent (Canterbury, Beckenham, Tunbridge Wells) by Mark Pennell


Email Mark on:


The leafy vistas at St Lawrence, Kent's headquarters since the 1840s, are about to change now that the club's members have voted for a £10m redevelopment plan that includes a 130-bed hotel and leisure complex near the Old Dover Road entrance albeit like the development at Chelmsford this has suffered from the economic downturn in spec development of this sort.


For the 2010 season at least, it will be business as usual for punters and visiting journalists taking their final, dewy-eyed look at the top championship ground for 2003 and 2004 before the major changes truly impact.


Building work is still to commence, but the club are seeking an agreement with developers to ensure little or no impact on match days as so-called 'noisy work' will not take place during hours of play, so cricket-watching should remain relatively tranquil i.e. the work will be carried out under a Section 61 notice.


The teething troubles with their Wi-Fi system (a major headache for all in 2007) have been resolved and that the in-house television coverage of the action out in the middle will continue, but sadly it seems, without video replays. That may yet change if Kent can find the manpower to operate the camera and video recorder all day.


Historically, press have parked their vehicles in the Bat and Ball field which is still the case as building development of a housing estate on that piece of land has still be be commenced. 



Sign-posted from the city centre ring road (A290 Rheims Way) take the Old Dover Road or the New Dover Road (A2040) for a mile and turn right off either one to find the St Lawrence main drive. The ground is 1.5 miles from Canterbury West Station and £4 by taxi (depending on congestion) and one mile from Canterbury East and £2.50 by cab. Drivers will be shown to a modest press car park in the bat and ball field (to the right of the main drive) near the cherry trees in the top corner.


Ground Facilities

Press and radio boxes and media liaison The press box is likely to remain in The Annexe for the 2008 and 2009 seasons, after which we will be moved into the new-look Frank Woolley stand (which will, at least, give us a position almost behind the arm).


The box is accessed via the first set of metal steps leading to the rear of The Annexe top floor (The first major building on the left-hand side of the main drive). The radio box is found at the top of the second set of metal steps leading to the top floor of the pavilion (The second white building to the left off the main drive). Both boxes are situated in wooden stands, so smoking is strictly forbidden in both areas, and there is no telephone line for hire in either box. Please introduce yourself to Kent Messenger's Mark Pennell to receive your lunch voucher, which journalists can redeemed for complementary hot food or sandwiches and a drink in the Cornwallis Room, situated on the first floor of the Colin Cowdrey stand.


Cricket Writers' in the press box will also be treated to a free, mid-morning drink (a tradition instigated by E W Swanton). Complementary tea and coffee is available all day as is a fridge, kindly stocked by club sponsors Shepherd Neame with beer and lagers. Under the redevelopment plan the club will be getting a new office complex, but for now it remains at the top of the main drive. For one-off media passes contact membership secretary Jackie Symes on 01227 456886. The clubs Chief executive will field most other media issues (on the same number). His personal assistant Carolyn Dunn will assist in his absence, or for marketing, general ground or parking matters, contact Jon Fordham.



Accommodation and Restaurants

If you are staying in the city overnight then I would recommend the Ebury Hotel on New Dover Road, a five-minute walk from the press box, which has a reasonable restaurant and is the pick of a generally modest bunch. Others I have stayed at The County, The Chaucer and The Abbots Barton, but gave mixed reviews. Details follow: Ebury Hotel, 65-67, New Dover Road, Canterbury, CT1 3DX. Phone: 01227 768433, Fax: 01227 459187. Abbots Barton Hotel (Best Western chain). 36, New Dover Road, Canterbury, Kent, CT1 3DU. Phone: 01227 760341. Falstaff Hotel. St. Dunstans Street, Canterbury, CT2 8AF. Phone: 01227 462138, Fax: 01227 463525. Holiday Inn Express, Canterbury. 2, Upper Harbledown, Canterbury, CT2 9HX. Phone: 01227 865000, Fax: 01227 865100. The Bat and Ball (01227 766015), the recognised watering hole for umpires, journalists and occasionally the players, is no more than a stagger from main gates. Licensee Tony Saxby has four rooms available for those with modest budgets and willing to take turns for a communal bathroom. Prices start from £20 per night including breakfast. The Bat also serves very affordable 'chips with everything' food generally in huge portions, but for more refined cuisine I can recommend the following: Restaurants: Café des Amis (Ace Mexican food) 93-95 St Dunstans Street. Phone: 01227 464390. Kudos 52 (The best Chinese in town, but pricey) 52 Dover Street. Phone: 01227 764062. The Shed Cantina (Tex-Mex and all-sorts) 61 Dover Street. Phone: 01227 450288. Bistro Viet Nam (excellent food and occasional comedy nights) Crab & Winkle Seafood Restaurant in Whitstable Harbour (excellent seafood) Phone: 01227 779377, Dunkerleys (finest seafood and fish on the Kent coast in Deal) on the seafront. Phone: 01304 375016, Skippers, High Street, Bridge (expensive but huge portions) 10 mins ground. Phone: 01227 830788 and finally if you like fish the Whitstable Oyster Fishery Company again in Whitstable is worth a visit. Phone: 01227 276856.



Tunbridge Wells

The delightful ground is tucked away on the side of a hill half a mile south of the Town centre. Usually sign-posted for cricket week, follow signs for the Hastings Road (A26) and/or The Pantiles then, at mini round about, take Frant Road (A267) then first left into Warwick Road (With Thorins wine bar on the corner). Go up the hill for a mile and half and left into Warwick Place for the main gates. Press car parking is restricted behind the sightscreens, so it is recommended to get there early. Tunbridge Wells' station is a mile away and a stiff up-hill walk, a taxi will only set you back £2.50.


Ground Facilities
Press box - The newly re-furbished main pavilion has lost its spiral staircase, but access to the box is via two flights of stairs at the back of the main building. A steward may ask to see your accreditation at this point. The bijou box seats eight at a squeeze, so again, best get there early to secure a seat with an unrestricted view. There are no telephone lines available and radio broadcasters have to sit outside at ground level to the side of the sightscreens, which is far from ideal in poor weather. The match office (01892 614900) is in the first floor of the pavilion adjacent to the players' dining area, which writers also use for their complimentary lunch once the players have vacated.


Accommodation and Restaurants
Thirst things first - the nearest place for a gargle is Thorins Wine Bar and restaurant. Out of the gates and turn right down the hill, Thorins is on the corner and serves a top pint of Harveys and excellent food. If you turn left out of the gates to the T-junction at the top of the hill and left again, you'll come across the Spread Eagle 500 yards on the right-hand side. Decent pub grub, London Pride and IPA. Hotel details as follows: The Swan Hotel, 58 The Pantiles, Tunbridge Wells, TN2 5TD. Phone: 01892 541450. Royal Wells Inn, Mount Ephraim, Tunbridge Wells, TN4 8BE. Phone: 01892 511188, Fax: 01892 511908. Ramada Jarvis Tunbridge Wells, 8 Tonbridge Road, Pembury, Tunbridge Wells, TN2 4QL. Phone: 01892 823567, Fax: 01892 823931. Spa Hotel, Mount Ephraim, Tunbridge Wells, TN4 8XJ. Phone: 01892 520331, Fax: 01892 510575. Restaurants: Thorins Wine Bar (French and English cuisine), Warwick Road. Phone: 01892 531480. Bottle House Phone: 01892 870306 and Signor Franco Phone: 01892 549199 are both good too.



The New County Ground in Worsley Bridge Road is, as the name suggests, the latest addition to Kent's out-ground roster. Formerly the Lloyds TSB Sports and Social Club Ground, it was bought by Bromley Property Developers Leander, from whom Kent rent the facilities on a 10-year, roll-over lease. The county resumed playing at Beckenham in 2003 following a 49-year break from their previous championship matches there, a rain-ruined draw against Gloucestershire.


From Bromley take A2015 Beckenham Hill Road, turn right into Braeside, left into Overbrae then right into Worsley Bridge Road. Press parking is adjacent to the players' car park. The ground is ¾ mile from New Beckenham station from Charing Cross or a mile and half from Beckenham junction for trains to Victoria. Buses LRT 351, 252 and 356 pass the ground.


Ground Facilities
The new pavilion and match office (020 8650 8655) is functional, but too small to incorporate press facilities, which are marquee-based almost behind the arm to the left of the pavilion. No telephone points are available, but the club, try to ensure a mains electricity supply.


Accommodation and Restaurants
There are no pubs within walking distance of the ground worth paying a visit, but central Beckenham has a lively O'Neill's bar at 9, High Street (020 8663 10010) which is virtually opposite Beckenham Station. Just a few yards away is Rob Key's favourite watering hole Patrick's Bar at 5, High Street (020 8658 8336) and both places serve decent food. Beckenham has no major hotels to speak of, so teams and journalist usually stay at one of two hotels in Bromley. Hotels: Bromley Court Hotel, Coniston Road, Bromley, BR1 4JD. Phone: 020 8461 8600. Bickley Manor Hotel, Thornet Wood Road, Bromley, BR1 2LW. Phone: 020 8467 3851.