Londesborough Park Cricket Club was founded by the park owner, the Duke of Devonshire, and the estate was inherited by Lord Londesborough in 1860.
It was he who placed the ground in its current beautiful setting next to Park Farm. The cricket club was not a village club as the team consisted chiefly of gentlemen farmers and professional men from a wide area. The only residents of the village who played were workmen employed by the Londesboroughs because of their prowess at cricket. Over the early years they readily invested in a professional cricket coach/players to ensure success for those privileged few who enjoyed country-house style cricket- always by invitation only of course!!. One of those early professionals was Alan Siddall born at Barmby Moor who played at Londesborough Park from1885 when not giving practice to the then Yorkshire Captain Lord Hawkes. The story goes that all rounder Siddall claimed half a crown a time from the Lord if he bowled him out when taking batting practice with just one stump. Alan also plied his trade extensively with Yorkshire Gentlemen, North & East Riding of Yorkshire X1 and more local teams including Pocklington, Beverley, Market Weighton, Wilberfoss and Warter. The Londesborough club have in their possession a ball dating from 1871 used in a fixture which included the professional Sidall playing for a Farmers X1 v The Gentlemen X1 at Everingham Park. Along with the historic ball they also hold scorebooks and fixture cards dating back to the 1890s. A Market Weighton C.C. fixture card of 1883 shows the Club Secretary acting also as the local vicar. An interesting job share of the time!
The clubs claim to fame extends to Royalty including King Edward 7th Prince of Wales who made 4 royal visits to the village as invited guests of the 1st & 2nd Earls of Londesborough between 1871 & 1905. On the visit in 1902 by his son George 5th invited over 700 guests along to lunch in a huge marquee placed on the cricket ground – sadly leaving little space for a game that day!
The second Lord Londesborough was the second largest landowner in the East Riding after Sir Tatton Sykes and was a close friend of the Prince of Wales. He was a patron of the Yorkshire County Cricket Club, sponsoring a couple of matches against Middlesex in 1874 and was one of the prime movers behind the Scarborough Cricket Festival. He went on to become President of the MCC, but he did not forget his roots and tried to keep in touch with matters at the Londesborough Park Cricket Club. In fact many of the seasons highlights were the cricket weeks held modelled on the Scarborough Cricket Club grander affairs with Londesborough hosting teams from far and wide including Lancashire Pirates, Hull Coal Exporters & Yorkshire Amateurs. More local fixtures around 1880s were played in the York area with Sand Hutton, Castle Howard, Selby Londesborough, Pocklington Grammer School and York. In the north & east of the county this shows fixtures with teams from Beverley, Bridlington, Driffield ,Malton,including some interesting teams from the Hull area named South Myton, Askwiths, Pilgrims, & Hull Albert United as well as Hull CC.
Plenty of historic reference is made to cricket at Londesborough which confidently holds claim to have the longest history of continuous use of a cricket ground in East Yorkshire and maybe further afield?
Often described as East Yorkshires greatest sportsman Frank Mitchell born in 1872 at Low Grange Farm Shiptonthorpe near Market Weighton played cricket as a youth at Londesborough Park. Before playing for Yorkshires winning side in the county championship – he also captained England’s Rugby team at the age of just 23! His next success was then opening the batting for England against South Africa and then ironically after fighting in the boer war he captained the South African
Cricket team in the 1904 & 1912 tours back in England. Londesborough Park were pleased with his performance for them in the final of the North & East Riding of Yorkshire Challenge Cup (played at Bootham Cresent) when he top scored with 94 out of the team total of over 200 played over 2 weekends. Who suggested that formula in recent years?
In 1905 further sporting developments took place in the Park with the creation of the testing nine-hole golf course. Situated at the bottom of the first hill on leaving the village the famous golfer at the time Harry Vardon, played in the magical setting of the rolling parklands, sadly the evidence of all this was lost some 10 yrs ago when the decaying clubhouse was finally knocked down.
The Golf Club sadly struggled to gain sufficient members after World War 2 and although golf may not have lasted the course, cricket certainly has. What pleasures could the golf course have given today – consider just 9 holes before or after the cricket match….. great therapy!
Countless visitors from far & wide enjoyed the Park setting for friendly fixtures until competitive league fixtures took over with the formation of the East Riding Pennant Alliance in 1956.
Just before the move to league cricket off-spinner & local farmer Billy Featherby, who played twice for Yorkshire, was still plying his trade well into his sixties at the Park. He was born at Goodmanham Lodge, near Market Weighton, and made his county debut against Derbyshire at Sheffield.
The all male cricket dinners held in the Londesborough Arms Hotel at Market Weighton around the 1960s were very well remembered as the host speakers during that decade were players from Yorkshires then most successful team. Most famous being of course Fred Trueman who stories were legendary –with no press allowed!!
Londesborough Park won theEast Riding Pennant Alliance League Title twice and, as a founder member team, strengthened the club with a second XI joining into the newly-formed East Riding Federation- a league tittle they won in 1985.
` Success in the existing East Riding Sunday Cricket League came in the same year which coincided with a busy period of numerous competitive local evening cup competitions. Again success was regular, but at that time the Park would enter up to 14 competitions per season. That would always include the Club’s own competition, the Dr. Ashwin Trophy. Originally set up by the club’s current estate owner’s father about 50 years ago to allow local village teams the opportunity of playing cricket at the beautiful ground. To ensure people from all the surrounding community can still enjoy this fantastic facility the club has recently arranged a 6 a side competition for “non cricketers” which really creates great fun.
Touring was also enjoyed by the club as early as 1952 when players took their wives with them to the Lake District – where even an otter took overnight accommodation! In the 70s & 80s and without female support the park tourists enjoyed countless challenges in Derbyshire,Lincolnshire, Gloucestershire, Lancashire & Hertfordshire where the competition were always keen to beat the Yorkies.
One of the Parks own umpires was sadly treated to a dip in the local river after decisions went badly for the tourists – needles to say the umpire retired after this traumatic event. Such stories abound as the tours continued up to the turn of the century when work and firm female influences took control!
The Club’s application, in the 1980s, to join the York and District Senior League was, sadly rejected owing to the primitive state of the old pavilion or was it the wood side privy, or the infestations in the changing rooms which the league frowned upon.? Not forgetting previous times when buckets of water had to be carried over from nearby Park Farm to fill the tea kettles. This set-back provided the Club with the daunting challenge to move forward or suffer an even greater fate of folding up. Thankfully they chose the former and after some fantastic hard work and support from vice-presidents, local sponsors, fundraising events and playing members real progress was made. Along with grants from the National Lottery, local authority, Yorkshire Cricket Board and Foundation for Sport & the Arts this finally created the grand new pavilion which was opened in 1998.
The exterior design of the pavilion planned by a past chairman includes a traditional veranda which matched the previously mentioned golf clubhouse. These new facilities provided a real springboard to rekindle the Club’s thriving youth policy and the Park now sees it as their greatest asset. With now 5 junior teams competing in the York Junior League plus numerous East Riding area representative junior games which the club are proud to host, it keeps the ground staff busy with up to 100 fixtures each season. On Friday evenings throughout the season up to 80 juniors from 6 year old upwards enjoy practise sessions and fun supported by the clubs 10 qualified coaches making full use of outdoor 2 bay all weather practice nets with a bowling machine.
With both senior teams now well established in the York Senior League the club remains committed to supporting cricket in the community, improving links with the local schools and enjoying matches on their fine ground, all of this thanks to their landlord who has set a peppercorn rent at five pence per year!
2011 proved to be the most successful season for our talented junior players with 16 boys representing the club at district level and 3 at county level.
The club regularly distributes hundreds of promotional leaflets keeping the local population well informed of the clubs events and opportunities (& even vacancies for volunteer help).
In 2008 the club moved even further forward with improving its facilities at the pavilion when an extension was added providing additional changing rooms for players and umpires, plus an equipment store and a score box complementing the new remote digital scoreboard. Modern technology really has arrived at our rural home! The funding for the extension came from 2 distinct sources –firstly the English Cricket Board and then from the local R.B. Massey Charitable Trust Fund.
The clubs end of season annual dinner, and Hog Roast are all key fundraising events now enjoyed using the new pavilion. Over the last 16 years has seen a well attended Golf Day sadly not hosted at Londesborough but well supported by local “occasional golfers” & those more talented, raising vital funds to maintain the new faclilities. Over the festive period of Christmas the clubs accounts enjoy a further boost with a Bag Pack session at the local supermarket followed by a Xmas Draw, between them bringing in around £2,000. Thanks to our current club president & landlord Anthony Ashwin, the now tarmac drive from the village to the cricket ground takes you through the rolling parkland for a mile which up and till the turn of the century was a quite rough chalk track, punctuated by 3 gates been required to open en route. Plenty of exhaust systems were regular casualties previous to the refurbishment – so no claims now please. Have you noticed the ice house on your way to the ground??. Many visiting teams only confirmed they were on the right road by way of spotting the donkey in the field. Sadly the donkey has now passed on to pastures new.
The club was proud to be rewarded by fellow league teams giving them top marks to the remote country ground club which resulted in Londesborough Park coming number 1 in the challenging league York Senior League Merit Table of 2010.
For the past 40 yrs as Club secretary and his wife as club treasurer the pair have seen remarkable progress at the club and this has to be put down to many past families and playing members being very proud & respectful of the history of their club in such a unique setting in the Yorkshire Wolds.
The support from the local farming community associated with the club cannot be overemphasised and has been a constant and vital feature in its history & development and that is even more evident thankfully today.
Currently we see varied groups of volunteers making up numerous teams within the club, like the past players and helpers- now a ground staff team- often described as “the last of the summer wine crew”. Then there is the vital tea ladies group, ten qualified coaches supporting the 5 junior teams, umpires and scorers, a vibrant management team, a healthy members committee & a busy fundraising squad.
Additionally our generous local club sponsors & vice presidents all coming together to ensure the existing membership and supporters enjoy the fantastic facilities at a
wonderful club. For more club information take a look at our website lpcc.org.uk
Local cricket certainly has many sporting and financial challenges ahead and it is imperative that a club has an equal amount of talent both on and off the field in order to survive. Long may those current qualities evident at Londesborough Park cricket club continue.
Very much a unique venue, and a club to be proud of at which to play the game & it should certainly ensure a quality legacy will be left for cricketing generations to come.
See our History and Memorabilia section of the Photogallery for lots of old photos of the club