Twerton Park is a splendid example of what might be described as a ‘traditional’ football ground, nestling in quite a residential area on the southern border of the historic City of Bath.
The ground is in fact the third home of Bath City. The first was was at the Belvoir Ground in nearby East Twerton which sufficed in the early days of the club. After the Great War however, a tenancy of £100 per annum was negotiated with the Bath Horse Show Committee which saw the club move to the Lambridge Ground at the opposite end of the city. Frustratingly, the club had to fit fixtures in around regular horse shows, which involved digging a huge hole in the pitch to accommodate a water jump! The ground did however, possess far better facilities than the Belvoir, including a wooden stand that extended virtually the length of one touchline.
In 1931 a lucrative FA Cup run enabled City to secure Twerton Park for the princely sum of £2,000, and were granted a mortgage by the Football Association.. The only problem was that the new ground stood on the edge of the steep Innox Park and a 45 degree slope. Although there is remains a slope to the pitch today, it is worth bearing in mind that it took almost three years to move 15,000 tons of soil and several trees to create a playing surface and perimeter banking!
The main stand was the first structure to be built, and set the club back a further £2,000. The stand was severely damaged following a major fire in 1991 but rose literally, Phoenix-like from the ashes to once again dominate the near touchline. The roof and sides are clearly not original, but she retains her character neverthess and even the seven supporting pillars can’t really detract from a fine view of the pitch below.
The tenancy of Bristol Rovers in the 1980s/90s saw the building of a Family Stand at the far end of the near touchline which, for me at least, sits a little uneasily with the rest of the ground.
Shortly after the building of the new stand in the early 1930s, a further stand was erected opposite, on the ‘Popular’ side of the pitch. This was badly damaged by bombing during WW2, which also saw part of the banking commandered for allotments towards the war effort.
Floodlights arrived at the ground during the 1950s, and the banking was replaced by terracing. The Popular side was also covered with an impressive pitched roof and lives up to its name today as the favoured vantage point for many home supporters. Despite having its capacity reduced by the development of housing behind it remains pretty capacious, with a single row of crush barriers a third of the way up from the perimeter fence, and a tea bar within.
The far end of the ground (The Bristol End) consists of steep open terracing. There are crush barriers but moving around this area is not for the faint hearted, and care is advised when it is wet. Whenever segregation is required (and frankly that isn’t too often nowadays), this end is reserved for visiting supporters.
The near end (The Bath End) has much shallower terracing which, it has too be said, is looking a little the worse for wear and crumbling in places.
Financial worries have long been a spectre hovering in the background as far as the club is concerned, and such a large ground requires considerable upkeep. With Bath failing to make the cut for the new Conference South in 2004 it could be that the ground suffers as a result. Nevertheless Twerton Park should still register on the ‘must see’ list of any serious Non League Grounds enthusiast.
Take the A46 into Bath City centre and follow along Pulteney Road. Turn right into Claverton Street and along Lower Bristol Road (A46). Go left under the railway into Twerton High Street, and the ground is on the left.
Bath Spa (1.5 miles)