The vision of a dedicated museum for hockey came from Phil Appleyard OBE, the President of the Hockey Association from 1985 to 1995. After masterminding the successful Men’s Hockey World Cup at Willesden, London in 1986, Appleyard set his sights on a National Hockey Stadium which was built in Milton Keynes in 1995. He charged two hockey enthusiasts, Mike Smith and David Wareham, to make the museum a reality and with the help of the Centenary Club, the function room (renamed later as Phil Appleyard Suite) at the hockey stadium housed England Hockey Association memorabilia and archives in 14 display cabinets. Sadly Phil Appleyard died in August 1997 and when the Stadium closed in 2003 some of the archives were lost.
When England Hockey was formed in 2003 their Finance Director, Ian Wilson was given responsibility for saving the remaining records of England and Great Britain hockey. In May 2005 England Hockey entered into a partnership with The University of Bath for the professional storage and cataloguing of the All England Women's Hockey Association (AEWHA) paper archives that had been saved from the offices in Milton Keynes. In return for this service, the University would store the archives on loan for 20 years. Lizzie Richmond, the Archivist at the University, took the responsibility for the storage, cataloguing and research of paper based England Hockey archives.
To oversee and develop this initial work, the Archives Steering Group (ASG) was set up in July 2007 with founder members being Patrick Rowley (Chairman of Hockey Writers’ Club), Dil Bahra (Hon. Secretary Hockey Writers’ Club), Mike Smith and David Wareham with Ian Wilson taking the lead on behalf of England Hockey (EH). By August 2008 the ASG had become a formal sub-committee of England Hockey and initial meetings were held at Bisham Abbey and The University of Bath. In November 2010, Katie Dodd was invited to join the ASG. She had been responsible for setting up the heritage display at Women’s Champions Trophy in Nottingham in July 2010 and brought with her a wider knowledge of women’s hockey.
The aim at this point was to develop the partnership with the University of Bath but as the Library could only take two dimensional archive material (books, magazines, photographs) there was still the need to find premises for all the other historical objects and artefacts now being collected.
In 2011, following discussions between Mike Smith and Woking Borough Council, we were offered suitable empty premises near the town centre. In June, the Butts Road offices became the Museum’s first permanent home and the ASG members started to move in all the collected artefacts, objects from various lofts, garages and warehouse. By this time additional volunteers were already joining the team and work had started to sort the items already in store and those now arriving from around the country.
The ASG recognised the need to set the new organisation up as a Trust and this was achieved in the autumn of 2011 along with the adoption of the name, the National Hockey Museum (NHM). The first Trustees of the NHM were with Katie Dodd (Chair), Dil Bahra, Pat Rowley, Mike Smith, David Wareham and Ian Wilson. England Hockey were initial partners with the NHM and agreed to give an annual donation to help cover the running costs of the Butts Road premises. Katie Dodd and Ian Wilson were the two EH nominated Trustees.
Our first website was set up in November 2011 with Dil Bahra as the first webmaster and charitable status was achieved in the summer of 2012. In those early days, collections of artefacts and archives started to arrive as the hockey world began to hear about the Museum’s existence. Major collections arrived from the Neville Miroy and Mary Russell Vick estates and from the personal collections of people like Mike Smith and Patrick Rowley. The Museum also started to build an active and enthusiastic team of volunteers; David Sumpter, Rowena Shepherd, Judy Smith, Marcus Wardle and Joan Wall were among the first and the team has continued to grow ever since.
In 2014 the operating name of the museum was changed to The Hockey Museum with Mike Smith as its first curator. With the support of Woking Borough Council, the Museum also moved to newer and more suitable premises in Poole Road, just round the corner from the old site. These offices have now enabled the Museum to store its books and archive material in a more controlled environment. The splendid open plan office provides an excellent area for the volunteers to sort, catalogue and pack the growing number of collections that we receive. It also provides an excellent facility for students and other visitors to use the Museum as a resource for their studies.