The September meeting of the Stourbridge Historical Society took place on Thursday 20th at 7.30p.m. Our president Michael Blamire-Brown welcomed a new speaker, Anthony Collis, who gave a talk entitled Victorians Batting for, and against Stourbridge to 66 members and 7 visitors.
Anthony explained that cricket gradually developed and gained in popularity in the Victorian era and that Hagley not Stourbridge had the first cricket club in the area. The date of the founding of Stourbridge Cricket Club is not known for certain but it has become accepted from the information available that it was 1842. The first detailed record of a match was in 1847. The All England XI played Stourbridge. Amongst the team were Frances Rufford a brickmaker who lived locally at Prescot House and was MP for the city of Worcester. Also named was Reuben Roby the first Stourbridge player to play for England. Anthony showed an interesting photograph of the All England XI wearing top hats.
The Earl of Stamford and Warrington was an important name in the Victorian era and the history of Stourbridge cricket. He had inherited Enville Hall and Dunham Massey in Cheshire. He was also Lord of Amblecote and had an astonishing income of £90,000 per annum. It was thanks to his generosity that Stourbridge Cricket Club moved to their new ground opposite Amblecote Church in 1857. The Earl established a very fine wicket at Enville Hall which is still used by Enville Cricket Club.
In 1859 Stourbridge played Dudley. A Stourbridge player of note was Charles George Lyttelton. The Lyttelton name crops up again when the family XI turned out against Bromsgrove school. Their team comprised eleven sons and two uncles. A photograph of 1890 showed H Collis a Stourbridge team member who was responsible for suggesting the name of the War Memorial Ground for the Stourbridge Cricket Club by which it has been known since the 1920s.
There were other players from the early days of the Stourbridge club who were men of note in the Midlands. W G Webb son of the Edward Webb the founder of Webb’s seeds, now known as Webbs of Wychbold, was a keen sportsman who entered public life as MP for Kingswinford. Charles Holcroft became a Baronet and was a generous benefactor to Birmingham University. W J Turney the owner of the tannery works was an outstanding personality in the life of Stourbridge. Others were Hickman whose company made bricks, Cochrane 0f Cochrane’s Iron Works in Holly Hall, Dudley and Firmstone whose family were also iron masters.
Anthony concluded by recalling the many street names in our area that were named after men who had played for Stourbridge Cricket Club throughout the Victorian period. Cobham Road, Hickman Road, Evers Street, Foley Road, Holcroft Road, Lyttelton Road, Palfrey Road, Collis Street, Firmstone Street and Stamford Road are but a few.
Founded 1946, by Geoffrey Beard
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