Westgate Cricket Club pavilion goes up in flames. Picture: Paul Hill
by Julia Collins
This is the moment 75 years of cricket club history went up in flames in an arson attack.
Cricket enthusiasts have been left devastated after a fire broke out at Westgate-on-Sea Cricket Club's pavilion, leaving the clubhouse in ruins.
Firefighters battled the blaze at the club's Elm Grove grounds for three hours early on Saturday morning after being called out just after 1.30am.
Police are now investigating the cause of the blaze.
The fire came just hours after the first team claimed a victory to clinch promotion into the Kent League next season.
And they are not just counting the cost of rebuilding the venue, which they have used since it was built in the 1930s.
They are also distraught that dozens of historic mementoes have been lost.
Westgate Cricket Club pavilion was left in ruins. Picture: Simon Moores
Chairman Rafe Kelly said: "It's not just the building, it's the contents - there was an irreplaceable collection of pictures and other memorabilia.
"It's 75 years of history that's gone up in flames.
"We want to rebuild. We can't do anything until the insurance company gives us the go-ahead, but we hope to have it up and running again by the start of next season.
"Club members should have been rejoicing this weekend because the main team has been promoted into the Kent League after years of trying, but instead we're devastated."
"this isn't mogadishu, we should be able to live in peace without anti-social behaviour…” – cllr simon moores
Club member Paul Hill said: "The whole pavilion has been destroyed, the only thing that didn't go up in flames was a bench in front, dedicated to Derek Watford, a member who died a few years ago.
"I'm just glad it happened at the end of the season, rather than in the middle."
Westgate-on-Sea councillor Simon Moores said: "I’m very shocked about the arson at the pavilion.
"This isn't Mogadishu, we should be able to live in peace without anti-social behaviour.
"This is another incident to add to a catalogue of incidents in Westgate over the summer period."