Cricket has been a favourite summer pastime in Derbyshire for several hundred years, and there is an early record of a match held at Brampton Moor, near Chesterfield, on 8 September 1757 between teams from Wirksworth and Sheffield. The Wirksworth men were ultimately adjudged to be victorious despite accusations of unfair dismissal from some members of the Sheffield contingent.
By the early 19th century cricket matches began to take on a more formal appearance with teams representing different parts of Derbyshire, and now Chaddesden began to play a significant part in the subsequent development of the county game. In May 1836 the Derby Mercury newspaper was able to report that the new South Derbyshire Cricket Club, which had already enrolled “above seventy Noblemen and Gentlemen” as members, would in future be playing on a regular basis at Chaddesden. Here, in the parkland surrounding Chaddesden Hall, Henry Sacheverel Wilmot (later the 4th Baronet) had created an excellent ground “where the Club meet for play every Thursday during the season.” Less than a decade later the South Derbyshire Cricket Club had outgrown the Chaddesden ground and moved to a new site on the Holmes at Derby, where the Town Council had spent a considerable sum of money in setting out the new facility.
A move back to Chaddesden was considered in 1861 when it was announced that much of the Holmes would be taken up by the development of a new cattle-market, but eventually the South Derbyshire Cricket Club relocated to the Racecourse Ground on Nottingham Road, which proved to be the long-term home of the game in Derby. With an increasing interest in cricket, the idea of forming a proper county team was discussed at a meeting held in Derby on 4 November 1870. Two of the main proponents were local men - Rev. F. W. Northey, the Vicar of Chaddesden, and Colonel Henry Wilmot (later the 5th Baronet) of Chaddesden Hall. Unfortunately Col. Wilmot was unable to attend the meeting as he was away from home. The motion proposing the creation of the Derbyshire County Cricket Club was duly carried and the individual annual subscription finally agreed at 10s 6d. In the 1871 season Col. Wilmot’s own brother, Rev. Arthur Alfred Wilmot, who had been born at Chaddesden in 1845, turned out to play for the new county club, and a memorial to this cricketing cleric (the Rector of Morley with Smalley) can still be seen in the south aisle of St. Mary’s Church.
The old entrance to the county cricket ground at the corner of Nottingham Road and Stores Road.
The badge above the doors is now set in the wall at the new entrance. [CHG Collection]
The creation of a county cricket club inspired the villagers of Chaddesden to set out a pitch for their own use. Located on the east side of Morley Road, their rented cricket field was later divided into separate lots which were sold off at a price of 5d per square yard when the Wilmot estate was broken up during the First World War. The village cricket pitch was then moved firstly to a field near the modern Appleton Close off Maine Drive, then to another site close to what is now York Road, finally ending up back in Chaddesden Park, the scene of so much cricketing activity in the first half of the 19th century.
Cricket score for 28 May 1870
Copyright © Peter Cholerton, 2016
First published in Chaddesden Magazine Sept-Oct 2016
To continue the story see Chaddesden Cricket Club 1933-1990 by the same author.