Chaddesden Cricket Club 1933-1990

A while ago a local gentleman was clearing out his garage when he unearthed a forgotten box of cricket memorabilia and contacted Andrew Bailey, former chairman of Chaddesden Historical Group, to see if he would be interested in taking care of the items. Andrew quickly agreed and was soon in possession of what turned out to be some fifty years' worth of documents, etc., relating to the now defunct Chaddesden Cricket Club [Note 1].  Andrew very kindly gave me access to this archive and the following article is largely based upon an analysis of the material.

The Derby Evening Telegraph of 20 April 2002 reported how the cricket club had disbanded only a week before the start of the season because of a lack of players. A further article on 24 May 2002 briefly commented on the history of the club, advising that it was 152 years old and thus founded in 1850. Although I cannot substantiate the supposed foundation date, the discovery of archives covering a fifty year period of the club's history represents a find of significant importance.

The earliest document in the archive is a membership card for Chaddesden Athletic Cricket Club covering the 1933 season (Fig. 1) which states that Charles Carlin (of Moor Grange, Morley Road) was the club president.


Fig 1: Chaddesden Cricket Club membership card 1933

One of the club's rules was that it should "consist of members who are parishioners of Chaddesden and others whom the Committee may elect." The club's ground was listed as "Bonnet's Farm", presumably a mis-spelling of Bonnett's Farm, since Abraham Bonnett was listed as one of the honorary members, but where exactly was the cricket pitch to be found? For a few years until 1933, Mr. Bonnett and his family had lived at Springfield Farm on Morley Road [Note 2] but in that year moved to Tiny Hall Farm on Chaddesden Lane (which became the Jubilee Club a few years later), with its fields extending out westwards over land that would soon be covered by the houses of Wilsthorpe Road, York Road and Reginald Road North. Since a cricket ground is known to have once been pitched in the vicinity of the modern York Road, I therefore assume that this was the time when part of one of the fields hereabouts became, albeit very briefly, the home of the cricket club.


In 1935 the club seems to have moved to Chaddesden Park when Mr. Ernest Terah Hooley [Note 3] gave them permission to use a pitch there free of charge. However, Chaddesden Parish Council acquired a lease on the whole park in 1936 so the club then had to negotiate with them to be allowed to use a portion of Chaddesden Park, eventually concluding a deal to rent an area of ground for use as a cricket pitch for the sum of £8 a year (Fig 2). From then on Chaddesden Park continued as the home of the cricket club until its demise in 2002.


Fig 2: Chaddesden Cricket Club – rent receipt, 1940


The next surviving membership card, that for 1938, shows the cricketing season running from May to September with a full fixtures list for both First and Second Elevens against teams such as Player's Athletic, County Offices, and Newstead Colliery. In March 1944 it was suggested at a general meeting that the word "Athletic" be dropped from the name of the club, however, it was decided to leave this until after the war, "owing to the numerous alterations it would cause." One year later the subject of a cricket pavilion featured twice in the minutes, it being agreed firstly that "The matter of a Pavilion be left to the discretion of the Management Committee", followed by the decision that "The President & Chairman attend a Parish Council meeting with regard to the erection of a Cricket Pavilion." The cricket club was obviously desperate for facilities, so while still exploring the possibility of having their own building they also approached the parish council to see if they could help. The latter authority wrote back on 17 April 1945 to explain that the use of the council's own (brick-built) pavilion could not be considered at the moment "as the question of compensation by the Military Authorities has not yet been settled."


The 1946 playing season got underway with the previously suggested name change taking effect, and so Chaddesden Athletic Cricket Club became simply Chaddesden Cricket Club. Furthermore, Chaddesden Parish Council was now prepared to let the cricketers use the park pavilion on Saturdays. The cost of a season's rent of the cricket pitch increased by 25% to £10 a year in 1948 and Edgar Llewellyn, Clerk to Chaddesden Parish Council, explained this was for "the use of pitch and the site of your own Association's Hut", so evidently by then the cricket club were anticipating the provision of a hut in the near future. Mr. Llewellyn added that it might be possible for club members to use the park pavilion for changing purposes, but this was not guaranteed since it was also frequently required for catering. The accounts for the year ended March 1948 give a useful insight into the club's running costs: the groundsman's wages for the year amounted to £15, provision of a concrete wicket and matting cost £22 5s 4d; a new hand roller £6 3s 7d; a canvas sight screen £9 16s 6d, and grass seed 14s; on top of all this there were general expenses such as postage £11 8s 6d, purchase of prizes £3 13s 6d, etc. These disbursements were met by income from subscriptions £32 9s 6d; match refreshments £24 19s 1d; sale of football tickets £12 3s 2d, etc.


The cricket club evidently felt their future prospects were now stable enough to enter into a long-term formal agreement with the parish council and in June 1948 began discussing the possibility of taking a lease of the ground. The parish council stated they were willing to grant a ten year lease of the cricket pitch together with "provisional use of the Sports Pavilion and the site for your own Hut", provided the cricket club paid the cost of preparing the lease and agreed to provide their own pavilion within the space of five years. After somewhat protracted negotiations, a ten year lease between the two parties was made on 2 June 1949. The land in question (Fig 3) was defined as two separate parcels containing approximately 7,500 square yards and 40 square yards respectively (the latter being the site of the proposed pavilion), and the rent was agreed at ten pounds a year, payable in equal half-yearly instalments on 1 January and 1 July each year.


Fig 3: Chaddesden Cricket Club – plan of ground and pavilion from 1949 lease


A pavilion of some sort was evidently acquired by the cricket club shortly afterwards, for the accounts of the year ended February 1950 make mention of alterations to the pavilion costing £50, and paint and washbowls for the same at £12 14s 6d, but there is no sign of any capital expenditure on the purchase or construction of a pavilion in this or preceding years' accounts ... did the club manage to acquire a second-hand building for nothing, I wonder? Unfortunately, now that the club had its own pavilion, it was not long before the problem of vandalism became apparent. In an effort to combat this, this parish council agreed to appoint certain members of the cricket club as park wardens, to act on behalf of the council and to report to them any irregularities they might observe ... just how effective this was is unclear.


From time to time the cricket club arranged collections at special charity matches for local groups and organisations, and in the summer of 1951 a match between Chaddesden and Mapperley Colliery to benefit the people living in the Almshouses in St. Mary's churchyard raised the sum of £6 15s 0d. The next year another collection brought in the further sum of £2 13s 6d, which the cricket club made up to £3 0s 0d so that each resident of the Almshouses could receive 10s. A photograph of team members dating from around this time is to be seen in Fig 4.


Fig 4: Chaddesden Cricket Club – team photo c 1950


The archive includes twenty scorebooks providing intermittent coverage for the years from 1956 to 1990 as well as duplicated copies of the batting and bowling statistics for a number of seasons. A glance at the statistics for the 1950 season records the bowling performance of a young Harold Rhodes in the First Eleven ... 12 overs, 1 maiden, 49 runs, 3 wickets, average 16.3. Rhodes would, of course, later go on to play for Derbyshire and England. Two years later, in the 1952 season, Chaddesden Cricket Club were joint winners of the Border League. Meanwhile, the facilities available at the club's pavilion continued to vex the committee and in September 1952 they were exploring the possibility of purchasing an old army hut from the military authorities so they could extend their building. The parish council had no objection to the proposed extension, provided it was sited on the south side of the existing structure. The club then seemed to drop the idea of an ex-army hut, preferring instead a new 20 ft x 12 ft building which would cost an estimated £53 to provide. This was expected to be in place by the end of July 1953, but in early March 1954 the minutes noted that it would finally be done within the next two weeks! By May that year the insurance cover had been increased, the pavilion being described as a timber building with a corrugated asbestos roof.


The club went on to have another success in 1955, when they won the Bayley Cup, and at a management committee meeting on 3 October, Mr. D. Hall successfully proposed that every member who played in the Cup should be given a trophy. One national event which had an unexpected and unwelcome effect on the cricket club was the Suez crisis, for this meant that supplies of petrol were rationed and the club's motor mower was quite a thirsty machine. At their meeting in March 1957 the committee members were therefore very thankful to hear from Mr. Hough that he had managed to secure an allowance of one and a half gallons of petrol coupons for the mower ... hopefully this lasted the club until May that year when the rationing was abolished. The First Eleven came runners-up in both the O.J. Jackson and Bayley Cup finals in the 1958 season (Fig 5) before winning the Bayley Cup in the 1961 season.


Fig 5: Chaddesden Cricket Club – 1958 Bayley Cup Runners Up Trophy (reverse)


When the club's ten year lease of the cricket ground expired in 1959, they opted for a five year continuation at an annual rent of £15, plus an additional annual charge of £10 to cover the cost of mowing the outfield. The new lease was broadly similar to its predecessor, except that the areas of land were now defined as 7,500 square yards (as previously) and 273 square yards (instead of 40 square yards) as the pavilion ground ... quite why such a precise figure was used is not clear. Maintaining a good playing pitch was always of paramount importance and by April 1963 the cricket club had arranged for South Derbyshire Water Board to install new piping and a water meter permitting the club to use up to 84,000 gallons of water in any six-month period.


Down the years the playing subscriptions charged by the club had been re-aligned on a (fairly) regular basis in line with general price increases. For example, and using the surviving membership cards as source material, the playing subscriptions in 1933 were 5s 0d per member; from at least 1938 until 1947 they were fixed at 7s 6d, rising to 10s 0d in 1948. In 1955 they had risen to 20s 0d, and five years later to 25s 0d, however, a major change was introduced at the AGM held on 15 November 1961 when it was agreed that from now on, annual subscriptions were to be charged at the rate of 5s 0d per person plus a levy of 1s 0d for every match played by a member. In due course, both these new subscriptions and match levies would vary as the club experimented with different rates during the difficult inflationary years of the 1970s, and by 1983 (the last year of a membership card in the archive) the playing subscription for an adult amounted to £8.00 per season plus a levy of £0.50 per match.


The club duly renewed its lease of the ground in 1964 for a further five years at the same rate of £15 per year, but by July 1967, when it was looking increasingly likely that Chaddesden Parish Council would be abolished under the forthcoming boundary revision, the council's clerk wrote to the club to see if they wanted to extend the lease. Well aware of the uncertainties if the parish of Chaddesden were to be subsumed within an enlarged Derby Borough, the club lost no time in agreeing a new ten year lease to run from 1 August 1967 at the same rent of £15 a year. That same month, Mr. J. E. Holt, the secretary of the cricket club, suggested to his fellow committee members that Tony Borrington should be made captain of the First Eleven for the Langley Mill match in recognition of his being appointed captain of the English grammar schools and this was swiftly agreed. A few years later Borrington was playing cricket for Derbyshire. Fig 6 is a colour photograph of the team, believed to date from around 1968.


Fig 6: Chaddesden Cricket Club – team photo c 1968


In 1972, four years after Derby Borough had taken over from the former Chaddesden Parish Council, the town clerk wrote to the club querying the validity of the lease, since he was of the opinion that a parish council was legally unable to let land for more than one year without the consent of the Secretary of State for the Environment, which consent he suggested had neither been sought nor given in this case! Various meetings with Borough officials then took place and eventually an amicable settlement seems to have been reached whereby the club would pay (initially) £60 a year to cover both ground rental and the periodic preparation of the cricket square and so, until its demise in 2002, the cricket club would continue to play its matches on Chaddesden Park (Fig 7).


Fig 7: Cricket match on Chaddesden Park, 1975


The club also agreed to the cricket square being moved eighteen yards "towards the two large trees" and the boundary outfield similarly moved to the proximity of the trees, which were such a feature of the ground [Note 4]. Some advantages accrued to the club now they had a large local authority as their landlord, for example, in May 1974 the committee thanked Mr. R. Robinson for the excellent work he did in getting the Borough Council's Parks Committee "to move the 'Chaddesden Mound'" ... quite exactly what this feature was is not specified in the minutes, but it had evidently proved a nuisance to the cricketers.


Aside from the usual run-of-the-mill matters such as the purchase of grass seed, mower repairs etc., all essential to the running of a cricket club, the minutes do occasionally recall more noteworthy items, such as the letter the secretary received from a gentleman in Adelaide requesting one of the club's caps ... a blue cap like the one pictured in Fig 8 with its distinctive gold emblem was duly dispatched to Australia.


Fig 8: Chaddesden Cricket Club cap


In June 1965 it was noted that someone was unfortunate enough to be hit by a cricket ball, and a similar incident is recorded in October 1971 ... in this latter case it was Mr. M. Cooper who was injured whilst playing for the club, so the committee decided to pay him £20.


One item discussed at a committee meeting held at the Jubilee Club on 6 November 1978 was to make a significant change in the geographical make up of the cricket club. The old Rule 2, which stated "The Club shall consist of Members who are parishioners of Chaddesden or others whom the Committee may elect" was deleted in its entirety, enabling anyone, no matter where they lived, to become a member of the club.


One month later, in December 1978, members were advised of another case of vandalism to the tea-room of their pavilion and volunteers came forward to assist with the repairs. More encouragingly though, the committee heard that Derby City Council, Derbyshire County Council and the Sports Council had all sent information regarding possible financial assistance towards the building of a brand new pavilion. A representative of the Regional Sports Council visited Chaddesden Park in March 1979 to examine the situation and at the next meeting in April, the committee heard there were now some grounds for optimism. Sure enough by that year's AGM in November 1979 it was stated that "the Committee had been working on a new pavilion project which was now a mere formality." One year later, at the club's AGM in November 1980, the secretary, Mr. J. E. Holt, said that special thanks were due to Mr. & Mrs. F. Oldershaw of Jasmine Cottage, Chaddesden Lane, for providing storage facilities and to Mr. J. Boddy of Morley Road for providing transport during the demolition of the old pavilion and the construction of its replacement. Mr. J. Insley, the club chairman, speaking at the AGM on 16 November 1981 urged members to take a look back in perspective. Just three years ago, he said, "the club was operating out of a shanty hut, with little prospect of anything different. But now because of a concentrated effort by the club's committee, the club now had one of the best pavilions in the league."


With a new and much envied pavilion, members of the cricket club were now hoping this marked the start of a new and successful era, but things did not always go according to plan. Whilst the November 1983 AGM heard that the First Eleven had achieved promotion, the Second Eleven were relegated. At the March 1985 AGM, it was noted that the Second Eleven had had a disappointing season and were sometimes struggling to field a full complement of players. The penultimate AGM minutes in this present archive, those for 10 March 1986, noted that long-standing secretary, Mr. J. E. (Ted) Holt, had decided to retire ... he expressed his thanks to all past and present club members for their help "especially the ladies who have helped over the years with the catering." The chairman at this meeting then went on to report that the financial situation "was such that the club was in serious danger of folding"; fortunately Chaddesden Cricket Club then still had some playing seasons in front of it, but fourteen years later, in 2002, it finally folded with some of the players moving away to bigger clubs with better facilities.


Copyright © Peter Cholerton, 2018


Note 1. The archive comprises some five minute books, thirty-two membership cards, balance sheets, AGM minutes, etc.


Note 2. Springfield Farm was the name given by Mr. A. Bonnett to what had, in fact, been my own family's smallholding on Morley Road for many years; the actual farmhouse being situated where no. 51 Morley Road stands today.


Note 3. Mr. Ernest Terah Hooley (1859 - 1947) was greatly involved in the sale and subsequent break-up of the Chaddesden Hall estate at the end of World War One.


Note 4. The two trees (a Horse Chestnut and a Small-leaved Lime) stand some fifteen yards apart.