The History of Pelican Park Sports Ground

In 1925 a Hull-based cement manufacturing company called Earle’s Cement purchased the recreation ground known as Pelican Park. It was originally 15-acres in size including cricket pitch, tennis courts and football pitches. There was an area for allotments which was used by employees and their families to produce home grown vegetables and fruit (which is now housing – Cherry Lane).

In 1927 a new pavilion was opened providing changing rooms / toilets with showers, storage rooms, kitchen area and community room for all members of the company to use. In the 1950’s, a covered veranda was also built, providing a shelter for cricket on match days.

Earle’s Cement

For 157 years the firm of G&T Earle was in existence in Hull. It served as a significant employer, providing work for several hundred people and by the end of the 19th century it had become one of the premier cement manufacturers in the country.

Although it amalgamated in 1912 with other cement companies to form the British Portland Cement Manufacturers Ltd., it retained its identity through the marketing of its Pelican Brand Cement up until 1966 – when it subsequently became the Blue Circle Group.

In 1921 Earle’s Cement founded their Welfare Department, with Ronald C. Burton appointed as the Welfare Supervisor. He was born in Cherry Burton, which is near to the City of Hull. He was a keen cricket enthusiast and he managed the department until his retirement in 1959.

The department was a novel idea in the industry and one of the early achievements was the promotion of closer contact between work and office staff members. This was primarily on the sports field in cricket, football, tennis, bowls etc. and it was reinforced by social functions, dances and amateur dramatics. Earle’s Cement also held a family fun day each year, which they opened up to the local community.

In 1930 a new organisation by the name of the Hull Works’ Sports Association was formed. This involved teams from various companies in around the City of Hull competing against each other at cricket, tennis and bowls.

The first President of the Association was George Earle of Earle’s Cement. This was the start of which, over the years has fostered many sporting activities that still take part today. George Earle Sr. moved to Hull from York at around the end of the 18th century, setting up a business as a stone mason and architect in Osborne Street.

The Earle Family

The Old Pavilion in the 1930s

One of his sons, John, entered into a partnership with his father when he came of age. In 1809 his two older brothers founded the Firm George & Thomas Earle Russia Merchants, selling various Russian-imported goods. They then established a Cement Company in 1821, just west of Neptune Street.

By 1866 the pressure of expanding the business required premises far greater than the 3 acres at Earle Street. It was decided to sell the site and develop a new workplace on a 10-acre site in the Wilmington area of East Hull. This was the production site until it closed down in 1970. The administration offices, laboratories and engineering departments continued working there until 1975 when a new office block was opened in Portland Street near to the city centre.

On 1st November 1985 an announcement was made that Blue Circle in Portland Street, would close, thus ending the association with Hull of G&T Earle and it successors after 157 years. The land was eventually sold to Hull City Council (for a £1) who continued to maintain the site to the best of their ability until August 2015, when Pelican Park Community Trust gained a 25-year lease for 12.9 acres of green space.