Carnegie UK Trust Campaign's To Find UK's Lost Playing Fields
11th May 2015
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In 1927 the Carnegie UK Trust allocated £200,000 – the equivalent of around £10 million today – to support the creation, protection and improvement of playing fields across the UK.  This is one of the largest funding programmes in the Trust’s 100-year history.  

Through an innovative partnership with the National Playing Fields Association (NPFA), local authorities and local community groups, these grants enabled the development of more than 900 playing field sites between 1927 and 1935.  The playing fields covered approximately 8,000 acres of land and helped to establish 1,000 football pitches, 1,000 tennis courts, 600 cricket pitches and 100 hockey pitches.

One of the conditions of the Trust’s grants was that the funded sites were to be retained as playing fields in perpetuity.  There is no up-to-date record of the precise locations of the Carnegie playing field sites; their current usage; or of the legal protections now attached to them.

In 2014 the Trust embarked on a 21st century partnership with Fields in Trust (the present-day operating name of the NPFA) to develop a new pilot project which would examine how the original Carnegie playing field sites can be located and protected.

Despite the process that was in place in the 1920s and 1930s for allocating grants to support the creation of playing fields, there was no single, comprehensive record kept of the exact location and legal status of these playing field sites.  It is therefore not known how the Carnegie playing fields are being used today; or whether the legal protections associated with the playing fields have been modernised and strengthened to ensure the sites continue to be used for recreation purposes, as stipulated in the original grant agreements.

Playing fields in the UK remain under threat with the number of planning applications to develop on playing field sites doubling between 1999 and 2009.  Recognising both this issue and the significance of the original Carnegie grant programme in this context – if all 900 sites established through the original CUKT grants were to be identified and supported this would increase the number of sites working with Fields in Trust by nearly a third – the Carnegie UK Trust and Fields in Trust established a new partnership project in 2014 to reconnect with original Carnegie playing fields programme.

The pilot project has reconnected the Trust with one its most significant historic grant programmes.  It has begun the process of finding the Carnegie playing fields and taking steps to ensure these are protected in perpetuity as the original grants had intended.  The project has provided a much richer, more detailed understanding of the original Carnegie playing fields grants programme from the 1920s and 1930s.

Individuals, landowners and voluntary organisations are all encouraged to submit information on a potential Carnegie Playing Field.  All you need to do is fill out an on-line form before 31 August 2015.  Once you submit your information, Fields in Trust will verify the playing field as an original Carnegie Playing Field and also verify if the site is legally protected as a public outdoor recreational space in perpetuity.  If the site is not protected then Fields in Trust can offer this protection and would be happy to work with the landowner to achieve it.

If your playing field is verified as a Carnegie Playing Field and the site is - or can be - legally protected as a public outdoor space, then Fields in Trust will get in touch with you for more information and to give you the opportunity to complete a short application form for one of the £5,000 improvement grants.  Voluntary groups will be able to make a grant application for a verified Carnegie Field as long as they have a letter of support from the landowner.

Improvement grants will be awarded at the end of September 2015. 

For more information and detail about Carnegie Fields visit the website at:

Save Our Playing Fields For Future Generations!

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Sarah E

Member since: 10th July 2012

I'm Sarah and I live just outside Barnstaple near Umberleigh.
I love sport especially rugby, cricket and golf and want to hear your thoughts on the site and add events and blogs on subjects that interest...

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