This letter from Adeline Wells appeared in the Correspondence column (page 3) of the Ilkeston Advertiser, Friday, March 28th 1930.
Its content centres on the Wesleyan Chapels in Ilkeston, funerals and the Stanton Road Cemetery.
(A few changes have been made in order to correct typographical errors)
*In the Ilkeston Pioneer, November 20th 1908, Sheddie Kyme wrote an article on Famous Cricketers – one of a series of his “Reminiscences of Ilkeston”. The following extracts add detail to Adeline’s letter.
It is not pleasant to reflect that years ago, Ilkeston had a cricket team, which on more than one occasion tried conclusions with the All England eleven, and then draw a comparison of the merits of present-day players. But it is hardly to be expected that a man can become an accomplished batsman or bowler unless he has a good piece of turf on which to practice. And this, Ilkestonians have been denied ever since the old ground was utilised for building purposes. It was very generous on the part of the Duke of Rutland to give to the town, at considerable expense, the ground in Pimlico Lane, but the turf never equalled the old one, and as far as I can remember, it seemed as though a further expenditure of money was necessary to make it fit for good cricket.
It is very questionable, indeed, whether Ilkeston will ever again boast of a cricket ground to equal the old one – so conveniently situated as it was – for a nicer piece of turf could not be desired. I recollect that ground before it was fenced around, when it had the appearance of a village green, the only thing lacking to make it complete being the Maypole. There was a path down the wall side of Mr. Isaac Warner’s premises, which curved to the left by a cluster of trees, beneath the shade of which stood what was known as the parish pump, and let into that part of Market Street, by the Anchor Inn, the landlord of which was a Mr. Goddard. The path continued along side this then noted hostelry (in the garden of which flourished some famous poplars), as it does today. In the bottom corner of the ground, close by this path side, were two small hawthorn bushes, into which youngsters would hide in their play. Alongside the churchyard wall was a slightly raised bank of turf, and here spectators would lounge leisurely while intently watching the progress of a match. Another point from which spectators witnessed the games was a balcony on the ground side of the Anchor Inn, and anyone examining that building today may observe the point from which the balcony was in later years built up.
**Of the cricketers, Sheddie Kyme writes at some length, only part of which is reproduced here.
I remember several of these old players, including Paxton, who has been described as a very fast and deadly bowler in his day, and I have good reason for recollecting the day of his funeral. Ugh! How it rained! It fairly ran out of the top of your boots, and with it came the lightning and thunder. It was this which impressed this day so forcibly upon my mind. Coming to a later period, I recollect such players as James Walker, A. Brand, G. Swanwick, W. Flint, J. Mather, J. Tilson (Bellows), and Allen Dodd. I could not write much concerning the merits of these players, but Allen Dodd always impressed me as having a very graceful style of using the willow. When the new ground in Pimlico Lane was opened, the Rutland Club made some little attempt at revival, but their efforts were not so successful as could have been desired, owing to the reasons I have previously stated…
The life of the Rutland Club at this period, seemed to centre in the Tilsons, and it was not until James, the youngest member, I believe, of that well-known family, was suddenly cut down – so sudden, in fact, that many could scarcely realise that his familiar figure would never again be seen on the field of play – that the downward tendency of the Club became more and more apparent. But the root of the mischief, I always believe, lay in the fact that the new ground was not fit for cricket, and this was more especially noticeable after a period of drought.
The Tilson family was well known for their abilities on the cricket field. John, Joseph, William and James, all being capable players, and if my memory does not fail me, I believe William once scored 30 for the colts against the county eleven. When in good health James was full of life and frolic, and the other members of the family felt his loss very keenly. Amid many manifestations of regret, his remains were interred in the Stanton Road cemetery, and anyone visiting his grave there may see a monument emblematic of the sport he loved so well – bat, ball, wicket and mittens.