Town Cricket Club – a brief history of time well spent.
first recorded cricket in Wivenhoe was on Wednesday, 3rd July
1765, during the first great blooming of cricket, and before the MCC took
control. There is no record of where this, or subsequent games were
played, although around the time of the club’s formation – circa 1840
– it is known that the game was played on the heath & fields near
club’s first regular pitch was in the grounds of Wivenhoe Hall, on a
field called, I recall, ten acres, between the Avenue and the woods.
There’s a picture of a scoreboard nailed to a tree behind a group of
players from the turn of the last century. The nail is rumoured to still
be in the tree, in a garden in Parkwood Avenue. When the estate was broken
up for building in the mid-twenties, the club was exiled to the marshes by
the Brightlingsea line until Mr Loveless, of the hall fame, sold his land
for mineral extraction.
a sportsman, he offered what is now the Rectory Road ground &
allotments to the cricket & football clubs for £500. The cricketers,
deeply annoyed by mosquito bites, noise and from the trains, and wet feet,
took up the offer and by 1930 had built a small pavilion and started the
square we know and love today, and where Denis Compton is claimed to have
played in his pre-war youth. The football club did not come up with their
share, so the club persuaded an elderly lady to cover the balance and took
out a mortgage to repay her. When another world war came, Mr Loveless
hurriedly fenced off the ground and put sheep on to stop the pitch being
cultivated for food, while the rest of the land became the allotments.
pavilion built in 1930 still exists – it is the section with the main
doors, going back to the pillars, and from the kitchen door to the change
of ceiling level. After the war, two changing rooms were added, extending
the building to the moveable door. The second set of double doors used to
be the changing room access. The toilets were in a block outside. The
tractor shed was a real old shed in the same corner, and the eastern
boundary was a line of elms along a ditch that bowed in towards the square
from the existing corners.
the 1960’s, the club ran one or two teams, depending on depth, playing
only on Saturdays, and the first team - except for the fast bowlers -
were, as befits a village with pretensions, professionals - doctors,
teachers, etc., few of whom actually lived in the town. (Compare with
today - all city commuters, except the fast bowlers, of course).
club had begun to grow a little. A bar and kitchen were added to the back
– the bay nearest the bar, and the Sunday XI was born to keep the Colts
interested, and the Wednesday night games against village pubs & clubs
were established. However, the club delayed entering league cricket, as
shortsightedness proved by almost immediate success in the Greene King
league (now Lancaster Garages).
in the early 80’s, the club blossomed. For a few, unusual, years, the
great majority of players actually lived in Wivenhoe. The 2nd
XI joined the ‘Garages league, we had to form a 3rd XI, and
within a few years, all three teams had moved up to the Two Counties. The
Social XI took over the evening matches and the Ladies XI became founder
members of one of the first ladies leagues in the country. From one Colts
XI – U17’s, we now have three, plus the Kwik Kricketers.
pavilion doubled in size again, with new changing rooms, indoor toilets, a
new kitchen & bar, and then a new toilet block at the back. The
tractor sheds were replaced - using one of the pre-fabs from beside the
gates, which then blew down in the gale of ’87, and was rebuilt. And,
after forty or more years, the old grey tractor was put out to grass.