The Playing Field is in Upper Layham, immediately beside Brett Green. It can be accessed from Mill Lane and from Brett Green. It is run by a Management Committee (Chair - Michael Woods, 01473 823798).
At the far end of the field, beside the River Brett, there is a wild area hedged off from the playing field as a conservation area. It is accessible to walkers and controlled dogs but children are dissuaded from playing there.
Forty years ago the Playing Field was a pasture. It was part of the land associated with Layham Mill and there was no public access. In 1981 representation had been made to the Parish Council to seek a play area, as all the agricultural land was fenced off, and the only open space for children to play on was roadways or the greens in Brett Green. Under the chairmanships of Tom Partridge and Guy West, the PC made enquiries and obtained the agreement of the then owners of the land (Mr and Mrs Duffield) that when they sold Mill House and the land around, they would give first option to the village to purchase the pasture.
It was a happy coincidence for us that they were about to move away. An interest free loan for £12,000 was obtained from the National Playing Fields Association (now known as Fields in Trust) and the pasture was bought in September 1982. The loan was paid back over 10 years by a local charge being made on the Council Tax – thus the field was truly bought by the people. It was a courageous decision by the Parish Council. The field was put in Trust and a committee formed to manage it.
Over the following 40 years, bit by bit, what you see now has been built up. Local people paid for the trees that made up the willow plantation (a source of income ever since) and a grant was obtained to buy the first piece of play equipment. In the early years fund raising was frequent and varied. The 120 Club was launched and has been supported by local people ever since. Gates were put in, more apparatus purchased, a garage store built, a ride-on mower bought, a hard play area constructed and more trees planted. Several substantial grants paid for the more expensive projects. It should be remembered that all through the 40 years a small group of people has worked to maintain and develop the field – cutting grass, thickening hedges, planting the trees, developing the conservation area – in fact all but the biggest projects have been achieved by local voluntary labour.
We know how much the people of Layham value the field – whether children who love to play, dog owners, nature lovers, sports enthusiasts, fishermen or just people who like to walk in an open space. Please find ways to help your village maintain this very important place.