Old Ilkeston Logo

The Cricket Ground and chapel

After Warner’s Yard then ….

The Chapel.

The old cricket ground Chapel… and the gates leading into the cricket ground.
The old chapel stood at the top of the yard and a large gate for horse traffic and a smaller gate for the use of pedestrians divided Warner’s yard from the cricket ground.

In a letter to the Advertiser of March 1930, Adeline recalled events in this part of town.

The Old Chapel — now I believe a joiner’s shop — was called in those days ‘The Cricket Ground Chapel’.
I was a scholar there.
On Whit-Sunday, we scholars from chapel, after morning school, would go through the gate leading from Warner’s Yard on to the path and walk in procession round the cricket ground, then back to the chapel and down Warner’s Yard into South Street, on to South Street Chapel.
In the afternoon most of the schools assembled in the various chapels, then processions were formed and all marched on to the old ground when addresses were given by different preachers and laymen.
The singing was a great feature, and needless to say, it was not only for the children but for everyone concerned a great day.

In September 1884 several houses, some building land, a saw-yard and timber yard in this area of Burgin’s Yard and South Street were offered for sale.
Also included was “a freehold building, formerly a chapel, now used as a joiner’s workshop by William Warner, plus copyhold land adjoining, used as a stone yard”.

Let us pause here to consider the Cricket Ground, the area around it and the activities upon it.

The Cricket Ground.

The first cricket ground for Ilkeston was a field near to Lawn Cottage down Pimlico donated by the Duke of Rutland but a few years later a ground to the south of the church was made available – the Old Cricket Ground.

“Though rather small, it was centrally and pleasantly situated, and could afford as good a wicket as need be desired”.

In a letter to the Advertiser, dated March 28th 1930, Adeline described the Old Cricket Ground, an open space, extending from St. Mary’s churchyard to the Anchor Inn, with a walkway around it.

The side leading from the Market Place to Market Street (that is, the west side) had low wooden palings dividing the walk from the grass. A gate and costs were at the end against the Churchyard, also again at the entrance to Market Street. It was a favourite place for children as a playground, and many a pleasant and happy hour we youngsters spent in it. Now it is a busy centre with factories, schools, houses, etc. in it. 
When the cricket teams were having matches we could look through or over the palings and everyone was free to walk about and see the play.

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 then continued along side this noted hostelry (in the garden of which flourished some famous poplars, as it does to this day. In the bottom corner of the ground, close by the path side, were two small hawthorn bushes into which youngsters would climb 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’. (Sheddie Kyme)

John Cartwright, who arrived in Ilkeston from Eastwood in 1841, recalled his early years in the town in a letter to the Pioneer in 1891.
“I remember the old mulberry tree by Ilkeston Church, and whose branches hung over the wall by the walk round the Rutland Cricket Ground. (From the Ground were pretty views of ) Cossall and its church, the woods Trowell way, Strelley and Kimberley, and Newthorpe wind mills, and the village of Awsworth; the panorama also embracing Eastwood and Greasley churches. The noble row of poplars on one side and St. Mary’s church on the opposite side….rendered Ilkeston Cricket Ground one of the prettiest in England….. How often those poplars partially sheltered we youngsters from the rays of the mid-summer sun when lounging on the turf after a game of ‘bat and ball’ in order to watch Paxton and Morris and Leivers, or the Attenboroughs and the Potters…practice the art they so much loved.
“On that same ground what fun did we have in the winter time, snowball matches between the scholars of Milner’s and Cragg’s schools, and also enjoyable football games before ‘Leagues’ and ‘professionalism’ were dreamed of.
“…on its beautiful turf I have witnessed many of England’s finest cricketers display their best form – George Parr, Joe Guy, William Clarke, (James) Grundy, Julius Caesar, (John) Wisden, Mynn, and Fuller Pilch amongst them”.

In August 1882 Edwin Trueman noted that the mulberry tree in the garden of Ilkeston Vicarage was believed to have been brought from Spain over 300 years before.
“Part of the tree was recently cut away, and has been made into a piece of furniture. The wood was quite solid, and has polished beautifully”.
(NG)

Cricket Clubs and cricket.

And what about the cricket?
An extract from a letter dated September 4th 1838 from Thomas Potter a member of the Ilkeston Rutland Cricket Club’s Committee;
“With a view of preserving order, and protecting the players from improper interruption, I have taken the liberty of stating to the Club, in order that it may be publicly made known, that the cricket ground would, I believe, be in the hands of the committee, who would be authorised to discharge all intruders, and others who do not conform to the proper rules and regulations of the club; and that the committee would expect the members of the club individually to exert themselves to prevent disorderly conduct, swearing and other indecent language, on the ground, so that neither Churchmen nor Dissenters should have occasion to complain thereof”.
“There was a period when the Ilkeston Rutland Club was able to place in the field a team which could command the respect of every opponent, and the long record of the victories won for the town a pre-eminence seldom achieved by any team drawing its members from so limited an area.
“Indeed, for several years, it was with the utmost difficulty that any club could be found to accept a challenge from our own, so certain were they that the result was a foregone conclusion”. (Trueman 3)

Sheddie Kyme recalled the halcyon days of Ilkeston’s premier sport of the first half of the nineteenth century.
“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 this town, at considerable expense, the ground in Pimlico Lane, but the turf never equalled the old one, and so 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”.(IP 1908)

Other, lesser distinguished cricketers also practiced their ‘skills’ on the Ground and sometimes got into trouble for doing so.

In May 1863 old lacemaker William Goddard, the keeper of the Cricket Ground, charged young ironstone-getter William Henson with playing cricket there without permission.
The latter was with a few mates and refused to leave the ground when old William ordered him to do so. In his own mind young William had a reasonable justification for playing there for free.
About two years earlier he had paid one year’s rent of 15s 6d for access to the ground, but then had left the town for some while, thus not getting his money’s worth.
Now he was back in town and making up for the lost time. Or so he argued.
Unfortunately for him the magistrates did not see his actions in the same way — paying a rent two years before did not entitle William to play on the ground now.
He was fined 14s with costs but refused to pay. Thus his game of cricket led to a fortnight’s residence in jail.


By 1866 the Ilkeston Pioneer sensed the ‘changing of the guard’ …

‘The “First Eleven” of Ilkeston of late years have not maintained their wonted fame as cricketers. For a long time they were the “champions” of the clubs of Derbyshire — never fearing, and seldom receiving a defeat. During the last 25 years Old King Time has drawn deep his lines in many of the well-known faces of the club, and the silvery fringe of age fittingly ornaments the heads of others whose earliest years were spent in the light-heeled mirth of “cricket”. We are not surprised to hear, therefore, that the First Eleven of the Rutland club are about to retire with their honours, to balance their accounts, and make fitting bequests to other and younger men who are emulous of the fame of the Ilkeston cricketers.
‘In chattering o’er the fund of local cricket lore, and the contests of the Rutland with All-England and distant clubs, quoting this rare “catch” and that bold “run”, the names of Samuel and Phillip Potter, Whitehouse, William and Thomas Attenborough, Paxton, Flint, Gregory, Horsley, Trueman, Ross, and others will long be foremost in the recollections of the thousands who have proudly witnessed their exploits in the field.
‘It is some gratification to know that they are succeeded by others well able to sustain the honour of Ilkeston cricketers. As an instance of this we were pleased to see, in a game played at Durham last week*, our townsman, William Rice (at present out as a professional) had obtained a most distinguished position. The match was between the married and single, played on the City ground. Rice scored 38 runs, obtaining the leger, and distancing all his mates and opponents by about 20 runs. In the first innings, as a bowler, he took four wickets, and in the second six wickets of the singles.  A week or two ago we had the pleasure to record a like success on the part of Horsley; and we are sure that the friends of Ilkeston will be glad to hear such good accounts of their native townsmen in professional engagements’. (IP May 1866)

*The Durham match mentioned above took place on Whit Monday, a general holiday, and was the opening match of the season for Durham City Cricket club, a match between their married and single members. William Rice was then a professional cricketer engaged by the club and played on the ‘married’ side — although he was not married !! And his contribution was deemed to have been the determining factor in which side won this match —  in his only innings he scored more than the combined total of all the batsmen of the ‘singles’ in their first innings. The latter lost the match by an innings and 3 runs. In the evening after the match the club members and friends enjoyed a good dinner at the Dun Cow Inn, where William was presented with the match ball.
In September 1866 William completed his contract with the Durham Cricket Club and was presented with a silver watch and chain, as thanks for his valued services.


In May 1869 the Cricket Ground was placed under the control of the Rutland Club by the Duke of Rutland.

In order to finance the upkeep of the ground, before playing there every person was to pay the sum of two shillings and sixpence ‘for the season’.

Then in 1871 the Cricket Ground was enclosed by a seven-foot high wooden fence so that a small charge for admission could be made when a match was played.
This provoked many complaints such as that from letter-writer ‘Ilkestonian’ who lamented the loss to the town caused by such an unsightly barrier.
He argued that previously from the Ground he was able to see St. Mary’s church on its northern side, the new burial ground on its eastern slope, the Vicarage and Dalby House.
And then, gazing out over the vales of the Erewash and the hills of Nottinghamshire, he could view the churches of Cotmanhay, Cossall, Trowell, Strelley, Eastwood, Greasley, Stapleford, Sandiacre and Bramcote!!
He must have been a passenger with Professor Emanuel Jackson! (see below)
“I recollect that ground before it was fenced round , when it had the appearance of a village green, the only thing lacking to make it complete being the Maypole”. (Sheddie Kyme)

But there were ways to circumvent the fence’s obstruction, as evidenced by the same writer, who ‘had a distinct recollection of witnessing a good portion of one of these games through a hole in the boards, from which a knot had very conveniently been knocked out’.

Parades, fetes and galas.

Apart from its obvious use, the Cricket Ground was an important meeting place.

For example, on a Tuesday in July 1853, the Jubilee of the Sunday School Union, then 50 years old, was celebrated in Ilkeston.
Taking advantage of favourable summer weather, thousands of people descended on the town, by train, boat and road, from Marlpool, Kimberley, Long Eaton, Stapleford, Stanton, Loscoe, Riddings, Langley, Moorgreen, to join with the people of Ilkeston in celebration at the Cricket Ground.
“Many a young heart beat high with hope, and many an aged spirit became young with the freshness of by-gone days”. (IP)
For this special occasion a platform had been built next to the church wall, stalls were selling food, music was played by an orchestra composed of over 100 musicians on wind and string instruments, hymns were sung, buns were served and picnics eaten, and the scene was awash with school groups ‘of clean, orderly, and respectable children’ parading banners.
Shops had closed and floral wreaths were hung across East Street, at the top of Bath Street, and at the entrance to the Cricket Ground, as a welcoming arch for the visitors.
The only disappointment appears to have occurred when there was an unsuccessful attempt to send up a balloon.
It was estimated that between 10,000 and 12,000 people attended this event, including four to six thousand children.
“Although not one policeman was there, and only a few constables and friends to assist, all were peaceable and obeyed every regulation to preserve good order, which says volumes in favour of Sunday schools, when we consider that twelve thousand people were assembled within the sound of that soul-thrilling harmony”. (NR)

Ten years later the old Cricket Ground was home to another gathering.
The occasion was to mark the marriage of Edward, Prince of Wales, to Princess Alexandra of Denmark, March 10th 1863.
In the morning free bread and beef were distributed to the parish poor on that site, while in the afternoon a large congregation of children from all schools in the area plus members of Oddfellows’ lodges gathered in the same place.
Ilkeston Brass Band played, the National Anthem was sung, a procession formed and set off, two by two, filling Bath Street and backed up into the Market Place and South Street, before visiting the other main streets of the town, while the bells of St. Mary’s rang out. Flags and decorations were everywhere.
Back at school the children were treated to buns and wine, or tea and plum cake.

Two years later – August 1865 — and the Cricket Ground and adjacent Market Place area were hosting the annual Floral Fete, organised by Ilkeston and Shipley Floral and Horticultural Society, formed in the mid-1830’s.
In the town, tradesmen closed their shops at one o’clock, the Union Jack on the church tower was flying and the crowd was building up.
And what a line-up was on offer for the people!
Of course there were four spacious marquees, attracting exhibitors from several miles around to display the shrubs, flowers, plants, produce and fruit.
But all manner of entertainment was also provided to keep the crowds interested and amused.
Music was provided by the prize-winning Nottingham Sax-Tuba Band, the Nottingham Band of Hope Drum and Fife Band, Mr. Simpson’s first-class Quadrille Band, and naturally the renowned Ilkeston Brass Band.
Also appearing were the celebrated troupe of Maryland Minstrels all the way from Baltimore and performing their refined ‘Negro Melodies‘, Irish comic singer Paddy Flynn, sisters Laura and Rosina singing their amusing character duets, Little Tom alias the Great Little Wonder, singing ‘Pat the Dandy Ho !’ and other Irish comic airs, the juvenile Celebrated Ballet Troupe with its Drawing-room entertainment, and Her Shentina, the renowned Gorilla!
The ever-popular Midland Aeronaut Professor Emanuel Jackson of Derby was also booked, and undeterred by the boisterous wind and a downfall of rain, made an ascent in his splendid balloon, ‘The British Queen’, at about six o’clock in the evening — eventually disappearing in the direction of Bulwell.
As if that were not enough, Professor Hotine was there to perform amazing feats of strength…. pronounced by the Press to be the cleverest Weight Performer in the World…..as well as wonderful sword feats, including Omar Pacha’s feat of cutting an apple placed in the inside of a handkerchief without injuring the handkerchief.
There were also areas for lovers of the ‘Terpsichorean Art’, Aunt Sallies, rifle galleries, merry-go-rounds, show caravans and other stalls.
Refreshments were under the ‘efficient management’ of Joseph Aldred of the Old Harrow Inn, William Jones of the Brunswick Hotel and confectioner Charles Chadwick who supplied ‘the cup that cheers but does not inebriate‘.
And all for an admission price of sixpence.
Although this was in August, the weather was dismal and damp — yet this did not deter hundreds of visitors from descending upon the town. The Midland Railway had laid on a special train from Sheffield, and for that day had offered reduced fares on journeys from Mansfield, Nottingham, Derby and a few other stations.
The culmination of the event was to have been a grand display of fireworks by Professor Chadwick but the inclement weather meant that he could not let off his elaborate fixed pieces — the audience had to be content with a lot of rockets and shells.

And two years later … the same event….. Kite1

(With a sincere apology … to Messrs. Lennon and McCartney — what do you mean ‘contrived’?!)

Professor Jackson and his ‘British Queen’ were a regular attraction at such events.
At the same annual show in 1863, after taking almost seven hours to inflate his balloon, he quickly made “one of the most beautiful ascents ever witnessed”.
“I took more than ordinary care in the preparation for this ascent on account of the late accident at Basford. I found the gas to be of good quality. During the ascent I despatched from the car six air balloons, so as to form a train; this I accomplished very well. I found the air very cold, so that I required my cloak. When the gas had expanded sufficiently to fill the balloon, I tried, by breathing some of it for a short time, if it would in any way affect me. I found no inconvenience.
“When I had been in the air forty minutes I came near Newstead Abbey …I attempted a descent in front, but could not succeed on account of some trees; this cost me two bags of ballast. I then tried a second time, two fields to the left of the Abbey, when I was successful. Some male servants from the Abbey, with others, came to my assistance. I was somewhat disappointed that the servants were the only occupiers. They kindly conveyed me to the Newstead station, when I took train to Nottingham, and from there to Ilkeston, where I arrived that night, highly pleased with my success”. (DM September 1863)

At that time the Abbey was the family home of William Frederick Webb, Africa explorer, big-game hunter and friend of Dr. David Livingstone.
David Livingstone died in May 1873 and to honour the memory of that explorer, Professor Jackson was now floating around in the ‘Livingstone’ balloon. He brought it to the Ilkeston and Shipley Floral and Horticultural Society’s Grand Fete in August of that year, but less than a week later disaster struck!!
Whilst moored at Nottingham ‘Livingstone’ broke free and embarked upon an unpiloted exploratory trip to Horncastle, about 60 miles away, where it came down safely. Almost at once it was ambushed by a wild tribe of Irish reapers who began to tear at it and trample upon it in a very savage fashion. A local farmer tried to barter with them, offering quantities of beer, to secure ‘Livingstone’s’ freedom, but by then the balloon was in a ‘deplorable condition’ with large sections being taken by the Irish raiders.
However the balloon was rescued, resuscitated, repaired and rose once more… in fact several times more !!

Dr. Livingstone featured in Ilkeston life less than two years later when Mr. Hall visited the British School in Bath Street to present his evening lecture on the Scottish Missionary’s travels – “illustrated by a large number of views in the form of a diorama” — to a “respectable and highly attentive audience”.
It appears the lecturer spoke with some authority as he had been present at the funeral of Livingstone at Westminster Abbey (April 1874) and was acquainted with a number of the Doctor’s personal friends.
“We must say that we have never heard a more instructive lecture than this one in the space of an hour”. (IP)

In December 1872 Ilkeston Farmers’ Club held their annual cattle and poultry show at the Cricket Ground, “notwithstanding the fact that scarcely a dairy in the district has not been visited with the foot-and-mouth disease”.
This show was first held in 1827 at Mr. Cocker’s property at Ilkeston Manor House.

A new ‘Cricket Ground’.

In April 1876 the Nottinghamshire Guardian reported that the old Cricket Ground area was now assuming the appearance of a wilderness. The new National Schools had been built and the hoarding which had surrounded the old ground had been taken down. Turf was now being removed and transported to the new levelled cricket ground in Pimlico, a gift from the Duke of Rutland and at a cost of over £800.
The annual exhibition of the Ilkeston and Shipley Floral and Horticultural Society then moved to the new Pimlico cricket ground. On the two days of the August Gala of 1876 the Pioneer estimated an attendance of 10,000 visitors.

At that time ‘Tatler’, in his Pioneer gossip column, reflected upon the good fortune of Ilkeston in having the Duke of Rutland for Lord of the Manor and in benefiting so much from His Grace’s generosity.
“To our children (the new Recreation Ground) will be especially welcome as a delightful playground, and as a means of rescuing hundreds from the dirt-pie and gutter form of amusement … the town must benefit from possessing what I propose should be called the Rutland Recreation Ground”.
The Committee of that Society had charge of the ground until, in the summer of 1877, it was opened to the general public.
One of the Society’s first decisions was to limit the annual floral and horticultural exhibition to one day from two.

In April 1878 Sanger’s Circus had booked a pitch for its pavilion at the Old Cricket Ground, followed on August Bank Holiday by Keith’s Circus.

And finally – almost — back to  Professor Jackson who in late August 1881 was out of luck once more when he was booked to appear at the annual Ilkeston Gala and Athletic Sports held at the new Recreation Ground in Pimlico.
He was the main attraction, due to make his ascent at six o’clock in the evening, and many people made their way to the ground solely to catch a view of the event.
Ilkeston… we have a problem!! Unfortunately the Prof  had prematurely opened a valve in his balloon and allowed a large quantity of gas to escape. It was impossible now to reflate the balloon before the designated time of his ascent and the aeronaut decided to abort his mission.
This did not go down well with the assembled crowd, many of whose members became agitated and enraged, ‘and a tremendous rush was made for the prostrate monster which was seized and trampled underfoot’ amid much hooting and yelling. The intentions of the crowd were clear but — in true Western style — the policemen present formed a defensive circle around  Mr. Jackson and his balloon. At one time aeronaut and balloon — now both severely deflated — were on the floor covered by the protective shield of Ilkeston’s brave constabulary while the surrounding mob attempted to smother the former in the ‘capacious folds’ of his flaccid partner.
Only with great difficulty did the police manage to restrain the onlookers from tearing the balloon to pieces as well as its illustrious owner.
Amidst a “surging crowd of angry and excited roughs” the Professor and balloon were dragged towards the ticket office by the attendant police, who were forced to stop frequently to repel the mob’s ringleaders. Eventually the sanctuary of the office was reached and a carriage called to transport the aeronaut to a more secure location.
Needless to state — but I’ll state it anyway — Professor Jackson was not impressed by his treatment at the hands of the irate Ilkeston mob, made up mainly of colliers. Never in his aeronautical experience had he encountered such treatment or hostility, and only the timely intervention of the law had rescued his balloon to fly once more.
However the Professor did have ‘form; this was not the first time that he had disappointed an Ilkeston crowd and this might have accounted for the ‘outbreak of popular vindictiveness’ on this occasion.
More sedate events at this Gala included handicap flat and hurdle races, a sack race, a running high jump and long jump, throwing the cricket ball, a one-mile bicycle race, and donkey and pony races.


Reminiscing in 1901, Alderman Sudbury remarked that the old Cricket Ground used to be where his own factory now stood. The building of this factory, belonging to Messrs. Charles and Francis Sudbury, glove and hosiery manufacturers, was begun about September 1880 and undertaken by William Warner.

In August 1881, while the factory was under construction, William was warned that a gang of lads was attempting to pull down the scaffolding erected around the building works.
He left his nearby home – and his dinner – to rush to the Cricket Ground where he discovered that the lads had grabbed a pully rope in an effort to dislodge the scaffolding. A pole had been broken and the scaffold loosened.
This was not the first time that such juveniles had given him trouble there and delayed his work.
Talking to them had proved futile —  they needed to be taught a stern lesson, preferably by the law — and so he took them to court.
But the lads had hired ‘a brief’ who skilfully tried to show that the builder was at fault!!  
William had been negligent in not erecting a fence around the partially complete building as the law required. The boys had just come out of school and merely pulled on the rope as a prank, with no malicious intent.
The magistrates pondered – and pondered – but could not agree on whether the actions of the lads were ‘malicious’ as defined by the law. So they could not convict.
One of the gang of lads was future Mayor of Ilkeston 12-year-old Horace Moss, son of South Street pawnbroker John and Mary (nee Scattergood).


 Town amusements.

Amusements were very few. There would be a party or two at friends’ houses at Christmas time, and perhaps a concert in the Cricket Ground chapel…. but it rested on the mother to keep her children interested and entertained during the long dark winter evenings.

Born in 1864, writing in 1933 about life in the 1870’s, Richard Benjamin Hithersay agreed with this short assessment.
The monotony in the town would be broken by the annual Flower Show, the ‘Wakes’ and the ‘Statutes’, outings associated with religious bodies and an occasional concert in the Town Hall, though the ‘busy and often rowdy’ Market at the end of the week offered a welcome change to many.
Those who wanted music-halls, theatres, or ‘life’, as it is generally understood, had to go to Nottingham or Derby to gratify their aspirations. Cheap railway return tickets on the market days of these respective places enabled them to do so at small cost for transport, and the exodus from Ilkeston on these occasions was always very big’.

Amusement centres of occasional attraction included the Old Harrow Inn yard, Woodroffe’s Croft, the ‘Junction’ and the Cricket Ground.


Close by, Burgin’s Yard and Row.                                                                                                      Grand Tour