A part-completed cricket ground in the Shawlands area of Barnsley played host to a fixture between Barnsley’s Clarence Cricket Club and the Holbeck Club. This was the beginning of the longest lasting sporting institution in town.
Prior to the venture at Shaw Lane, there were three principal cricket clubs in the town; the aforementioned Clarence Club, the Locke Club and the Barebones Club. Soon after Shaw Lane’s creation, Barebones disbanded with Locke inheriting their players, before Locke and Clarence merged to form Barnsley Cricket Club in 1864.
A great stir was caused in the town when an All-England XI visited Barnsley on four occasions (1860, 1861 and twice in 1862), bringing with them legendary players. W. G. Grace was even rumoured to have played at Shaw Lane.
The ground was described as “a sloping meadow” prior to 1870; In 1878 the Barnsley Cricket Club and Athletic Association began to extend and level the existing field. Full levelling was completed in 1894, leaving it roughly the shape it is today.
Financial issues would become a regular occurrence for the cricket club during the early years of the 20th Century. In 1904, the Barnsley Cricket Club and Athletic Association Ltd was made into a limited compant in order to stabilise the monetary situation, and in the short term this was successful. However after two key athletics meetings were curtailed due to bad weather in 1909 and 1910, a “Great Bazaar” was held at the public hall in order to raise funds for the club, taking place in 1911.
To celebrate its centenary in 1964, the club unveiled an extension to its clubhouse. Yorkshire County Cricket Club played four Benson and Hedges One Day Cup matches and many 2nd XI county cricket matches were played during the 1960’s and 70’s, along with county bowls matches.
The famous squash courts opened on 19th May 1972. An archery section was also established during the 1970’s. The sixth sport to make it into Shaw Lane was ladies hockey.
In 1996, the site was taken over by Barnsley RUFC, who remain freeholder to this day.
Formed as an Under 11’s side in 1991, Shaw Lane Aquaforce Football Club joined forces with struggling Worsbrough Common in 2010 and became known as Aquaforce Barnsley before being renamed Shaw Lane Aquaforce. The club has been very successful in its life to date, achieving the remarkable feat of back-to-back promotions in 2012-13 and 2013-14.