Cricket in Ham

It is thought that cricket started on Ham Common in 1815 but it is 1841 before the first written record of a game between Twickenham and Ham (then called the Albion Club) appears.  In 1855 there is a  newspaper report of the club called Ham Common but usually known as Ham Albion up to 1868 when it changed to Ham Star.  This was shortlived and from 1869-1891 it was known as Ham or Ham Albion.  In 1891 it acquires present name of Ham and Petersham Cricket Club.

The Club met in various venues including the Crooked Billet, Ham Institute, Ham School and the Hand and Flower.  The groundsman, a paid position, from the turn of the century up to the war was Shadrach Hopkins.  He was helped by his nephew Victor who lived in Evelyn Rd.

Surrey Comet June 1901: “Yesterday during his dinner hour, Thomas Button aged 26 went to play cricket with some companions on the Common and during the game was struck behind the ear by the ball and instantly killed”

From 1918-39 the Club flourished and many players of national renown Hobbs, Sandham and Strudwick, the Bedser twins and Surridge played on the Common.  A notable local personality was Philip Carr (biscuit manufacturers) who lived at Montrose House and was active in the club from the 1920’s through to the 1960’s

Surrey Comet 1927:  Report “Old time cricket:  Married versus Single-  Tug of War in a pond”

Wilf Stevens, the well-known local builder, first played for the Club as a youngster in 1934 and continued to play up to the war.  He also played cricket for his regiment and football for Ham which was a good side in the Richmond League.  He recalls that on many occasions he helped to pull animals out of the pond.  At this time every householder was allowed to keep one animal (a horse or a cow) on the Common.  This feature continued up to the 1950’s

Meetings were held at the Ham Institute which was used regularly for changing.  Ham Garage was also used.  It was rented by Henry Adams who acted as Chauffeur for the Bowes-Lyon family.

The first matches after the war were played at the Cassell Hospital and in Richmond Park and they then returned to the Common.  In 1954 the ground was also used by St Andrews Boys Club but a plan for ground sharing with the British Legion Club met with protests.  This club folded in 1956.  In 1959 another club was started, an offshoot of the Ham Football Club, called Ham Cricket Club but this ceased to function in the1970’s.  Michel Parkinson played for the Club for a few years when he lived in Surbiton.  President of the Club from 1955-59 was Major McGrath, former Director of Wembley Stadium, who lived in the Manor House in Ham St.  An eccentric Polish lady also made her mark in the 1960’s.  an artist, she had bright red hair, was always dressed in the same colour form head to foot, and on many occasion in a season would walk right across the pitch during a game.  In 1961 a charity match was held to raise funds for new changing facilities and in 1967/8 the new pavilion was built next to the Hand and Flower.

“Labour Voice” February 1974:  “The crack of leather against willow has been heard on Ham Common for over 150 years and there is now a threat that cricket may not be played there any more.  Ham and Petersham Cricket Club are having difficulty with maintaining the cricket square on the Common.  Your councillors are pressing the Council’s Parks Department to help keep up the square.  If you feel that 150 years of cricket tradition should be kept up write to us.”

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