Club History

Eastnor Cricket Club - Founded 1884

In the dip between Ledbury and the Malvern Hills lies Eastnor, with its ‘medieval’ castle begun in 1812 for the 1st Earl Somers, its church re-built by Sir Gilbert Scott in 1852, although some of the original 12th and 14th century structure remain and its famous obelisk, which can be seen on the skyline. The obelisk was erected to the memory of the Earl’s son who fell at Burgos just before Wellington succeeded in taking the Spanish Hill town.  In 1871, the ‘baronial’ village had a population of almost 400 inhabitants and 90% of the working population were employed in farming on the estate.

On the death of her father, Lady Henry Somerset, formerly Isabel Somers-Cocks, inherited the Estate in early 1883: and shortly after the lads in the village began to play cricket in the Park opposite the Old Post Office. In 1888, the game was played more keenly and the Eastnor Castle Cricket Club moved to its present day ground, the site of a cider orchard belonging to Gold Hill Farm. The first game played was on Saturday June 23rd against Welland, which Eastnor won, and throughout the season, other games were played against Leigh, Ledbury, Colwall, Malvern Wanderers and other Estates in the area like Whitbourne Hall, Stoke Edith, West Hill and Witley Court.  To be a member of the Club one had to reside in the Parish of Eastnor and pay the relevant subscription of 2s 6d, or if you were an ‘outsider’, you had to have been vetted and proposed for membership.

In 1890 wages in the village ranged from 5 shillings (25p) to 17 shillings (85p) per week and due to her ladyship “taking the pledge” the Somers Arms public house was closed.  In 1896 mains water was supplied to the village but the cricket ground was to use locally obtained water for nearly a further 90 years before the mains was finally installed.

In 1902, the thatched roof (now tiled) changing pavilion was erected and in 1908, a concrete practise wicket laid.

By 1903, matches had become all day affairs.  The players would leave the ground at about 8am in a 3 or 4 horse drawn Long Brake hired from the Feathers Hotel or the local Somers Arms.  On some long journeys, such as to Witley Court, the horses would be changed at Worcester.  Matches always began at 11am, to the local hostelry for lunch and either to the ground or local Manor for tea.  The return was always leisurely, calling in at many places on the way and getting back in the early hours of the next morning.

The population of the village remained stable around 400-500 inhabitants for nearly a further 30 years and the Cricket Club played between 16-18 games a year between the end of May and the end of August, mainly against other local teams.  In 1912, the original village hall was built.  The cricket continued until the outbreak of the 1st World War, the last match being played against Malvern College Servants on 5th September 1914.

Following the end of the war cricket restarted in 1919 on the 5th July with a game against old rivals Ledbury – a game which Ledbury won by 77 runs.  For several seasons after the ‘Great War’ cricket was played on one day per weekend, but there was usually a small break during harvest time, and mostly the same teams were played each season.  During the late 1930’s and early 1940’s the population of the village decreased significantly and more and more “outsiders” began playing cricket at Eastnor.  Limited cricket was played during the 2nd World War and with more interest being shown in the game, especially at village level, more and more matches were played and the cricket season extended at both spring and autumn dates.

In 1951, Club subscriptions were raised to 10 shillings (50p for younger readers) per annum and 1/3d for teas, and the annual turnover of the club would range between £100 and £200.  Headquarters at that time was the Village Hall, rebuilt since the original one had been destroyed by fire in 1939.  1954 saw the Committee toying with the idea of running a 2nd XI, but due to lack of club funds, equipment could not be purchased.  Subscriptions were increased to £1, with non Eastnor residents paying 25 shillings.  The first married versus singles match was played and a levy of 1/6d per person was charged to help toward travelling costs.

In 1960/61, the changing rooms (old pavilion) had major restructural work done to it when the 80-year-old thatched roof was taken off and the slate roof erected. 

In 1962, Headquarters moved to St. Mary’s Children’s Home (now Bircham Grange).  The married versus singles match died out in the late 1960’s due to only 2 or 3 married members still playing for the club.  1969 saw subscriptions increase to 30 shillings and teas to 3/6d, but in 1970, so many of the ‘older’ members retired and the Club took a quick downhill dive with only a handful of younger players left.  Only a few matches were played at the beginning of that season and a fresh start was made again in 1971 with Sunday matches only. 

In 1972, fund raising began to be the main focus for the club in its rebuilding process.  Headquarters were moved round various local hostelries.  In 1972, the local football club were given permission to use half the ground during the winter and cricket was again played on both weekend days.

1973 saw the first talks about building a new pavilion, and also the first benefit match for a Worcestershire player – Bob Carter; this was followed by Norman Gifford, Basil D’Oliveira, Alan Ormrod, Brian Brain and Bob Willis over the next ten years.  The club also became a member of the Worcester Cricket Association and held its first presentation dinner dance under the new club ‘management’ at the Plough Hotel, Ledbury.  Since then the dinner dance has been an annual event held at various locations including the Royal Oak, Feathers Hotel, Park Hotel Colwall, Colwall Village Hall and the Rugby Club.  Many of the trophies presented were donated by vice presidents

In 1974, the Club introduced its own 6-a-side knockout, following suit with many of the other local village clubs.  It also joined the Haig Village Knockout, later to become the Whitbread Village Knockout and now known as the National Village Knockout sponsored by the ‘Cricketer’ magazine. Initially the club had little success, however as the club grew in strength results improved, wins at regional final level and in later national rounds were achieved.  This included victories over previous winners of the competition, some of which were not without controversy, once resulting in the club being expelled from the competition, which was carried by the national press and television. A trip to Lords however still eludes the club.

In 1975, the club joined the newly formed Herefordshire Cricket Association and entered several players’ feats in the “Green Un Competition”.  A 2nd XI was formed and played about 8 games, mostly on Sundays.

1976 saw the Clubs first tour to the Isle of Wight and after several years of discussion and deliberation in 1978 join the Hereford and District Cricket League, with the 2nd XI joining in 1981.  Both teams having a great deal of early success.  From 1978, the Club started playing cricket from the end of April to the end of September, running two sides, entertaining touring sides and the occasional evening matches.

In 1982, two of the most important things started for the club.  Firstly, the long awaited new Pavilion was finally started and secondly a Colts side was formed to encourage local youngsters to take up cricket and provide players to ensure the future of the club.

In 1984, the ‘new’ Pavilion had been completed, with a bar added in 1999, and sadly, for those ‘older’ members the old ‘Tea Room’ was demolished in 1987.

In 1991 the 3rd XI was formed, playing matches at “home” in Ledbury and Woolhope, all sides continued to have great success in the Hereford and District League and similar in the Marches League before the 1st and 2nd XI’s joined the Worcester County League in 1999.

In 2003 the 3rd XI came home to their new pitch adjacent to the main ground, and in the same year the ‘Old Pavilion’ was completely refurbished to its former glory by Eastnor Castle Estate, and was used for umpires changing rooms.

In 2004 The Pavilion Terrace was built and dedicated to the memory of Chris Kidd.

The Colts teams have gone from strength to strength with teams in the Leadon Vale Youth League and Herefordshire Junior League at Under 11, 13 and 15 age groups.  Several colts being selected to represent the club at county level.   Much of this success is due to the dedication and commitment of the Youth Organisers with excellent support from the team managers, coaches and parents.

2008 was a year that saw the club achieve several major milestones, one being the 1st XI crowned champions of the Worcester County League Division 1, this saw the club being accepted into the dizzy heights of the Birmingham League Division 3, which also meant the 2nd XI joining too.

Also in 2008 the Club was awarded ECB Clubmark Accreditation, this accreditation will provide significant benefits for the club over the years to come and therefore maintaining this accreditation is of the utmost importance.

In 2009 we celebrated our 125th Year, a year that provided many challenges both on and off the field, the biggest without doubt being the loss of our long standing Secretary/Fixture Secretary John Taylor ‘JT’ or ‘Cuz’ as he was affectionately known to all of us, someone who it will be impossible to replace.

The promotion to the Birmingham League Division 3 also provided a significant challenge, on the field both the First and Second XI’s had to adjust to a consistently higher standard of cricket than most players had encountered before.

2009 also saw the erection of a new Score Box; this was dedicated to the memory of John Taylor.

In 2010 the 1st XI had an excellent year gaining promotion to Birmingham League Division 2, while the 2nd XI gained valuable experience against tough opposition.

2013 was a year of great significance for the club. It was decided that the time had come to move the club to a 'new' level in terms of the facilities that were available to players, members, spectators and the local community by going ahead with a new pavilion. January saw official planning permission received. This triggered a huge effort in planning, raising finance through grants, loans, donations and fund raising. A huge amount of thanks must go to all those involved in that tremendous effort.

One event in particular that contributed greatly to the pavilion fund raising effort and will live in the memories of all those involved, took place on Friday 2nd August 2013 when Eastnor CC took on the might of the Lashings World XI with their international line up of stars and WON.

By October all the hard work to raise the necessary funding, confirm pavilion design and identify who would carry out the project had paid off and the New Pavilion Project finally got underway, the demolition of the old pavilion and the construction of the new would last well into 2014.

2013 also saw the formation of a new 4th XI (Veterans team), which found its feet very quickly when it entered the Marches League Division 4 alongside our 3rd XI.

2014 started with the new pavilion project rapidly taking shape ready for the new season thanks to the tremendous effort of the building contractor, with the hand over to the club being completed in April. The Pavilion provides a fantastic facility that will benefit both the cricket club and local community for many years to come. The icing on the cake took place in September when the official opening of the pavilion was carried out by Simon Jones MBE - England Test Star and Ashes Winner.

Other notable events during 2014 included Eastnor hosting the Australian ACT & NSW teams in matches against Herefordshire Over 50's and an Eastnor Veterans XI.


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Jim Sandford


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