Barnes Cricket Club, the early years….
In the 1880’s a cricket club was formed and played on our present ground, on the Lowther Estate at Barnes. This Club’s activities ceased on the outbreak of war in 1914.
These early years were documented by our Life President, E.G.Turner in March 1969 for the club’s fiftieth anniversary.
After the war, the members of the Mortlake Cricket and Hockey Clubs found that their ground (now the Watney’s ground at Mortlake) had been turned over to allotments, and in searching for another venue, it became apparent that the old Barnes C.C. was unlikely to re-form. Eventually they obtained a one-year lease on the present ground. The old cricket and hockey pavilion, in use until 1962, came from the Mortlake Club, literally wheeled down, the road on a barrow. So in 1919 the Barnes Cricket Club in its present form came into being. At the same time the initial moves to form the Barnes Sports Club were under way. The first general meeting of the Cricket Club, held at the Coach and Horses in Barnes on May 9th, 1919, was the occasion on which it was decided to proceed with the formation of the Barnes Sports Club. This was made possible by financial assistance from the Barnes Local Defence Volunteers and by the granting of a lease on advantageous terms by the owners of the Lowther Estate.
Meantime the Barnes Cricket Club had held its first Committee meeting, on Wednesday, April 30th, 1919 and the very first minute stated that “the team for the match against Ashford on Sat. May 3rd was selected.” It seems however that this match never took place, (possibly because it rained!), but it is known that the first match was played on Sat. May 17th, against the 20th City of London Volunteer Regiment at St. Quentin Park. Barnes won, thanks to Bill Bailey who made 65 not out and took 7 for 14. An impressive start for someone who was to be one of the foremost personalities in the Club for many years to come. The following Saturday, May 24th saw the first match on the home ground when Barnes beat East Sheen by 75 runs, and the 2nd XI also started with a win against the same club by a similar margin. These matches were followed by a win against Marlborough (1870), and on Whit Monday East Sheen were again beaten, this time by an innings. The Club Captain was Percy Gray, and apart from Bill Bailey, those who played in the team included Captain F. H. Summers, who was to become the first President of Barnes Sports Club, Harry Blackburn, George Lee-Uff, Tommy Dods, Reg and Ivor Hughes and H. W. J. Fisher. Don and Jim Gray played for the Club in 1919 but not in the 1st XI, and they would seem to be, the only surviving Founder Members. The records also show that we played. Ashford 2nd XI on Sept. 20th, 1919.
The start of the 1920 season revealed a marked improvement in the condition of the ground, and by this time the Barnes Sports Club had become properly estab-lished. The opening match in that year was on May 1st against Crofton Park.
The Club is in possession of the minute books of all committee and general meetings since 1919, and like many old documents these provide some most interesting and amusing reading. To give but two examples, there is reference to a Mr. Turner (no relation to the present Hon. Secretary) putting his animals to graze on the ground, it being suggested that “in return he would wish to become a sub-scriber.” Another records that the Committee agree that a notice be displayed requesting Members “to discard their waistcoats, stiff collars and braces when playing at the Nets.”
The first Tour took place in 1923, in Sussex, with Captain F. H. Summers as manager. It is said that he considered it his duty to provide eleven fit men for “the use of the captain.” His two sons, Len and G. H. (Bub) had by this time joined the Club. Their performances with bat and ball dominated the next few years and they both earned representative honours. Len returned to Barnes in 1946 and more or less bowled one end for seven years.
The Club was indeed fortunate that men of the calibre of Percy Gray, Bill Bailey, Sam Walpole, Harry Butler and Captain Summers were available to prepare the base from which the Club has consolidated and expanded over the years. They were clearly men who could see the need for a club, they had the wisdom to determine the form that it should take and further they got it going. A remarkable feature of Barnes Cricket has been the record of the three families whose names have become almost srynonimous with Barnes. Percy Gray was Chairman until 1945 although apparently not officially elected to the office until 1923 and Bill Bailey was captain for 25 years. There has been a Bailey among the playing members for every year, a Gray for all but the last few, and since 1930 of the three Walpole brothers, Harry, Dick and Sidney, at least one could usually be found in the 1st XI.
The Tours in Sussex continued until 1932 when a move was made to South Devon. The war years apart, the Tour continued every year until 1965 when reluctantly and to the disappointment of our many friend’s ,in Devon it had to be discontinued. The manager in the immediate post-war years was Doc. Jeffs, whose memory is perpetuated by the award of a Scholarship to promising young players coming to the Club.
The Club is proud of a great tradition of voluntary service, particularly with the serving of teas. Whilst the present regime will rightly consider their facilities far from ideal, in the early days water had to be fetched from Burree’s farm (now the site of the recreation ground), and boiled over a primus stove.
In 1962 the new pavilion on the ground was completed and provided much needed improved dressing room and washing facilities, and must have been a material factor in the improved playing standards of the Club in recent years. 1963 saw the first visit by M.C.C. and in 1968 and 1969 the Club was greatly honoured by the invitations to stage the match between the Club Cricket Conference and the Royal Navy.
EGT advised that the information contained in this narrative has been derived from the old minute books of the Club, the files of the Barnes, and Mortlake Herald, and the history of the Barnes Sports Club, written by the late Mr. W. H. Bailey. He was also indebted to Messrs. P. C. and D. J. 0. Gray for their assistance.
Graham ended on the note….
” it is hoped that in reading these paragraphs, the present members will learn something of the beginnings of the Club, and the story of the years since.”
Hopefully with help from our older members, there will be more to come!