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Hermit Road

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Title: Hermit Road  
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Subject: Boleyn Ground, Browning Road, Memorial Grounds, Sports venues in London, East London derby
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Hermit Road

Hermit Road was the first home stadium of London football club Thames Ironworks, the team that would become West Ham United, and was located in Canning Town. Thames had taken over the tenancy of the ground in the summer of 1895 from Old Castle Swifts F.C., who were the first professional football club in Essex. The Hermit Road ground had been described as a 'cinder' heap' and 'barren waste'. It was surrounded by a moat and had canvas sheeting for fencing.

Thames Ironworks played their first ever fixture of the 1895-96 season against Royal Ordnance reserves on 7 September 1895, the game ending 0-0. In Thames' first competitive game, they took on Chatham in a preliminary qualifying round of the FA Cup . The match had to be played at Chatham's ground in Kent as they had rated the Irons' Hermit Road Ground as unsuitable.

16 March 1896 saw an experimental 'floodlit friendly' in Thames' first encounter with Woolwich Arsenal, in an epic encounter that they lost 3-5. These early attempts at floodlighting were set up using Thames Iron Works engineers and equipment, and caused an amount of notoriety. They were also used for "The Irons" next game, in their first ever meeting with West Bromwich Albion, which they lost 2-4.

In their first ever fixture in the London League on 19 September 1896, Thames Ironworks beat the Vampires 3-0. Thames Ironworks next game at Hermit Road would also be their last. It came on 8 October, when they beat 1st Scots Guards 1-0. Later that month they were handed an eviction notice from Hermit Road by their landlords. The club had violated their tenancy agreement by charging admission fees and building a perimeter fence and pavilion. Thames Ironworks had to play their next four fixtures at the grounds of their opponents, until a new home could be found. The first of these games was against eventual champions 3rd Grenadier Guards F.C. on 22 October 1896, which The Irons lost 1-4. At the turn of 1897, Thames' chairman Arnold Hills had managed to lease a temporary piece of land for the team, located in Browning Road, East Ham.

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