Despite the existence of a Charlton Football Club playing rugby in the 1860s, Charlton Park dates officially from 1893. We are unable to trace the link between the two clubs, although the former disappeared in the year we began. Known until 1920 as the Old Charltonians – the boys of one of the schools formed to train pupils for the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich – we changed our name in order to identify with the home ground donated to us by the Maryon-Wilson family. This association continues through the club badge, which incorporates the family crest. In the early years, we played in the Fairfield in Charlton village and were based in The Swan public house. We reached the final of the Kent Cup three times between 1906 and 1912.
We ran five sides throughout the twenties and provided several players to the county, but when the park was sold to Greenwich we lost our ground. The club was kept afloat by a few dedicated officers, but during the Second World War, the pavilion was hit by a bomb and prefabs were built on the pitches. The final nail was hammered into the coffin by the bureaucracy of the council.
Throughout the fifties and sixties, we struggled to raise more than one team. We played at Kidbrooke and in Beckenham before we finally gained pitches at Hornfair in Shooters Hill Road, where we changed in the draughty Lido and used many of the hostelries of southeast London.
We had almost settled into The Crown in Blackheath when it burned down. We ended up at The Plume Of Feathers in Greenwich. An influx of players at the beginning of the seventies put the club back on the map, and in 1974 we moved to Pippenhall, building the clubhouse two years later and securing the freehold.
In the first year of the leagues, we won Kent League Division One, and consolidated our position in London South East Three before winning it in 1991-92. In 1993, the club celebrated its centenary, reaching the Kent Cup Final for the first time since 1912, drawing 10-10 with Old Colfeians but losing the title on the count back of tries. In 1996, we gained promotion from London Division One to National Division Four South. This was just as the rest of the clubs turned professional. We were relegated at the end of the season and tumbled down the leagues.
In August 1999 we moved to Broad Walk, where we own the freehold. We hosted London Broncos RLFC for three years, using the majority of their rent on upgrading the pitch drainage systems. We have also developed our facilities and our community links. The club is used by local schools most days of the week and we run junior teams from under 14 level upwards, in addition to 4/5 senior and a vets. We now boast two floodlit pitches, thanks to a very generous grant from the RFU.