The Recreation Ground, or 'Rec' is one of the most idyllic rugby grounds in the country. It nestles next to the River Avon, under the shadow of both the Bath Abbey and Great Pulteney Street, a Georgian masterpiece.
Steeped in history the City of Bath was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1987 and the surrounding areas have been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The ground lies at the heart of the city, within easy reach of pubs, restaurants and shops, all of which are crammed full of rugby fans before the game.
In the early part of the 1890s, the land on which the Recreation Ground now lies on, and the North Parade land were part of the Bathwick Estate, which was owned by the Forester family.
In 1894, a lease was granted by Captain GW Forester to the Directors of The Bath and County Recreation Ground Company Limited. This lease allowed work to be carried out on the land which would make it suitable for cricket matches, lawn tennis and archery tournaments, football matches and all other outdoor sports.
The first Bath Rugby match was played on the ground in 1894. Three years later, the ground hosted its maiden first-class cricket match, with Somerset County Cricket Club hosting the Gentlemen of Philadelphia as part of the Bath Cricket Festival.
A new lease was granted to Bath F.C. in 1927, allowing them the use of the land on the west side of ground, along with a Grand Stand, a New (North) Stand and a Pavilion, for a term of 25 years. Over the years this lease was further extended with the most recent extension being in 1995 when Bath F.C. were granted a further 75 year lease.
In 1933 the Grand Stand was replaced with a new West Stand. This West Stand was significantly damaged during the Second World War. Rebuilding of the stand, at a cost in excess of £12,000 was met by the War Damage Commission in 1953–54. The 'Club Room' building was erected in 1954, to the west of the North Stand, and during the same year a lease was granted to allow a tennis club to use the north east corner of the ground.
To date, about a quarter of the Rec is leased to Bath Rugby during the rugby union season as a sports ground capable of holding 12,200 people. During the summer the rugby ground's temporary East Stand is removed to make way for cricket on a larger pitch. This cricket pitch is used for local contests and by the Somerset County Cricket Club for one match a year. Parts of the eastern area of the Rec are used by Bath Hockey Club, Bath Croquet Club, Bath Drama Club and some tennis courts. Pitches are available for amateur sports such as football, volleyball and lacrosse. There is a cricket pavilion at the William Street entrance to the ground and the council run Sports and Leisure Centre is located on the southern edge of the Rec by North Parade.