All this was to change when, in 1969, permission was granted by Southend Council for a small extension to the Pavilion which was to include a licensed bar. This required a Special General Meeting to amend the Club Rules. For a sum just short of £1,000, raised mainly by Members’ loans, the extension was built and included a kitchen and a bar. The bar was small - about the size of a large cupboard and was referred to affectionately (or otherwise!) by those who can remember it, as the ‘Hole in the Wall’. But at least, it brought all the Club members together and the financial results put a smile on the face of the Treasurer, indeed, the Members’ loans had been repaid by 1971.
At the same time, the Council installed one shower in each dressing room, but for the next 7 years the Club had summer use only of the building and had to surrender winter occupancy to the hockey players and the footballers.
On the playing front, Ken Wallace joined the Club for the 1969 season and was a prolific run-scorer, forming with Jack Carr a formidable opening pair for the next 10 years. In 1971, Ken had the remarkable figures for the season of 1.207 runs in addition to 51 wickets and, in 1973, again exceeded 1,100 runs. Permission was given for Sunday matches to be played in Chalkwell Park every weekend, a second Sunday side being fielded as well as a fourth Saturday side. In the mid-1970s, the Club took over what had originally been the Southend Doctors CC, later Chalkwell Wednesday and ran a Wednesday side. Youth cricket became an important part of the Club’s activities and has increased over the years as schools’ cricket declined.
Also, at this time, moves were underway for further extensions to the pavilion and, after a number of delays an addition of new dressing rooms, shower area and score box was built at a cost of £6.500 in 1978. With the promise of a longer lease from the Council, the Club spent a further £7,000 in 1981 on improvements to the kitchen, bar area and ladies toilets. The final major improvements to date were undertaken in 1985/6 when £36,000 was spent on providing an upper storey to the dressing room end largely increasing the two dressing rooms with integral toilets and showers and including an Umpires Room and new score box. Much of the building work was undertaken in wintry conditions by a dedicated team of Club members.
Proposals for League cricket in Essex were being aired by 1970 - a league of sorts being operated in 1971 and, for 1972, nineteen Essex clubs were invited to form a new league. For this year, the final table was decided on an average basis, as it had not been possible to rearrange all the fixtures in time. Leigh finished 3rd in the inaugural season and repeated that success in the following year, the first proper league season.
The 2nd XI league started a year after the 1st XI and eventually, in 1979, the 3rd XIs formed a league. Not all the League clubs wished to participate and, for the first six years, the table was therefore decided on an average basis. The 4th XI league was formed for the commencement of the 1998 season with clubs divided geographically,
The 1st XI always held their own in a competitive league but sadly were relegated to Division 2 at the end of the 1998 season when the Premier League commenced and leagues of ten clubs were formed. With an Overseas player engaged and two new recruits for the 1999 season, promotion back to Division 1 was achieved by finishing runners-up.
The 2nd XI had a good year in 1991 finishing in 2nd place only three points behind the winners. In both the 1996 and 1997 seasons, the 2nd XI led for the early part, but then faded to finish in mid-table. Regrettably, they were relegated to Division 2 at the end of the 1998 season.
The 3rd Xl had good years in 1983 and 1984, when finishing 3rd and did even better in 1989 and 1990 when finishing in 2nd place. From then on, their form declined, culminating in relegation at the end of the 1996 season. However, two years of consolidation at the lower level culminated in being crowned Champions of Division 2 in the 1999 season.
Sadly, the commitment of Saturday League cricket led to a decline in the standard of Sunday cricket - a decline which is not specific to Leigh-on-Sea CC. A Sunday League was started in South East Essex in 1997 in an attempt to arrest this decline, but it is clear that the number of senior players who are prepared to play two matches at the weekend is much less than in the 1970s.
In 1980, the Club came to an arrangement with Leigh Ramblers Football Club which allowed the footballers use of the Pavilion during the winter months for their social events, a situation which benefited both Clubs, and the increased bar profits made possible the improvements to the premises. When, in 1993, the Leigh Ramblers pulled out at very short notice the Club was faced with possible financial difficulties which were avoided thanks to the generous sponsorship by a Club member, George Johnson (ETS Building Services), whose help in this manner continued for many years.
For Youth Cricket, the Club has been fortunate in having some dedicated Youth Managers and competitive cricket has been organised at Under 11, Under 13, Under 15 and Under 17 levels..
1996 saw the fruition of a joint project with our neighbours, Westcliff-on-Sea CC, for the conversion of an old tennis court in Chalkwell Park to provide three all-weather practice pitches. With financial help from the Lords Taverners, National Lottery and others, the new facility was officially opened by Sir Colin Cowdrey (now Lord Cowdrey) and provided a practice facility which had been sadly lacking at the ground for many years.
1999 saw the formation of an Essex Premier League with a change in the established format of recreational cricket. Leigh-on-Sea Cricket Club has not yet reached Premier League status but the future may well see another phase in the history of the Club.