urnley Express and News July 25, 1962
A new home – but the old club spirit is still there
Lowerhouse C.C. Celebrate their 100 years with the opening of their new pavilion on Saturday. While it is a matter of regret that their playing record for this important season does not match their auspicious history, the fact remains it is their centenary year, and as such it marks a proud if critical time in a story of ten decades.
What can be gathered from a backward glance into the more remote days when the club was young and cricket was the principal sporting interest of those who founded and administered its activities?
Many of the old records were destroyed in the disastrous fire which swept the social club just after the last war. I was given a flame-singed page of an accounts book a day or two later, when the charred and sodden wtreckage seemed to typify the ruin of the hopes of those who had kept Lowerhouse in existence from 1939-45.
But another clubhouse rose on the ashes of the old and now a new pavilion has been built on the opposite side of the round to that in which many of the famous changed, talked, rejoiced or bemoaned their luck during the 60 years of its existence.
The Wheel of Fortune turns and the new structure must stand for the resurgence of hope and the renewal of a determination to maintain the ideals which inspired those who founded the club a century ago
Link with the past
The present secretary, Mr. Leslie Eastwood, has some old minute books and records dating back to 1870 and they confirm that the club was established in 1862.
Of course there is a wide margin of ways and means and costs of living between those days and now. In the ninth annual report the second largest item of expenditure was “new bats and balls, £7 2. 10d. Today a bat costs £6 4s. And a new ball £3. 5s! At that time playing members’ subscriptions brought in £18 6s; honorary members £10 19s. 6d.; match receipts were £5 17s 9d.; proceeds of concerts £10 0s 10d – which brings one to the conclusion that special efforts had to be organised, even in those days to raise necessary money.
And there is one other item on the income side – “Fines ….101/2d.” A search through the by-laws for that era reveals that there was a code of conduct which was strictly enforced. Some appear slightly incongruous in these so-called enlightened times – “Any member caught ill-treating the pony will be fined sixpence for each offence.”
And what about this one – “Any member playing either cricket or football in clogs will be fined twopence for each offence.
If you were found smoking or heard using indecent language during practice or in matches – a penny fine.
Enter the field otherwise than through the gateway – a penny fine.
Most serious offence was “wilfully striking another member on the field or in the pavilion,” and the penalty was a fine of one shilling. The fine had to be paid within 14 days, otherwise the offender would cease to be recognised as a member.
In 1873 the president was Mr. James Sutcliffe. Mr. John Ingham was vice-president, and other officials were : treasurer, William Smith; financial secretary, John Whittam; hon secretaries, John Heap and Thomas William Heap. There was a first and second eleven and a colts team; the senior side played 18, won eight, lost five and five were classified as “undecided”.
The aggregate performance since the establishment of the club was given as 91 won, 39 lost and 22 drawn. The bowlers’ analyses were inscribed under tabulated lists as “Name; balls; runs; wickets; wides; average runs per wicket.”
Athletic festivals were a popular annual event and the first took place in 1873 when the balance sheet included (in our eyes) some unusual items of expenditure.
A meerschaum pipe (cost 10s.), three metal teapots (12s), a copper kettle (8s. 4d.) Handicappers’ expenses amounted to 1s. 6d.; policemen’s wages, 6s; band expenses. £4; powder and caps, 4 1/2d. – and a policeman’s lunch 2s.! Incidentally the organisers made a profit of £11 16s. 9 1/2d.
Patrons at the 10th festival and gala included the Marquis of Hartington, M.P., Sir U.J.K. Shuttleworth, bart., Lt. Col. Dugdale, JP and A. Drew, Esq. The 84th (Padiham) L.R.V. Brass Band was in attendance and events included a 44 yards football race and a two mile bicycle event.
One prize list included: silver tea pot, a cane-handled bat; a copper kettle; a silver medal and a gold centred medal. Event? 220 yards hurdles (won by W. Redman), jump, run and stand; and a stone gathering contest (probably organised by the ground committee).
Of course the various rates of remuneration were vastly different from today, and although I could not find how much the professionals were paid in 1879, scorers’ and umpires’ fees were reduced from 2s. to 1s. first team; 1s 6d. to ninepence second eleven.
Evidently the club was having a bad time, for talent money was reduced from 10s. to 7s. 6d., the poor bowlers had a more strict margin of performance to maintain if they were to earn their 5s. talent, for instead of being rewarded for three wickets in seven balls, it was made more difficult, three in three! While prize money for the first eleven was £1, the 15s. prize for the second eleven was abolished!
These days there is frequent talk of the seasons commencing in May instead of April and finishing later. In 1880 the close was on October 2nd and a supper was arranged at the Junction Hotel on the 23rd.
A few years later this social event was raised to the dignity of a “knife and fork tea (if 30 names be got) followed by a smoking concert, the price of the tea not to exceed 1s 6d.! At the turn of the century the venue was the Lane Ends Hotel, “the meal to be on the table at 5-30, price of same not to be more than 1s 6d and should less than 20 names be given, the supper shall fall through”.
Caps and jackets were provided for the teams (rather a pity that the colours are not mentioned), but they had to “return them in good condition after using them.” Occasional committee meetings took place in public houses and when it happened, the officials were allowed fourpence each.
Those were the days of two professionals and they had various duties to perform – including the taking out of wickets for practice purposes.
Date to remember
An important meeting took place in 1901 and the minute book records that a resolution proposed by J.H. Hartley and seconded by J.R. Wilkinson stated that the “best thanks of the members of Lowerhouse C.C. be given to J.T. Dugdale and A. Dugdale for the way in which they met a deputation with regard to alteration to the ground, also for the promise to lend £250 for such alterations.”
Thanks were also expressed to Mr. A. Ford for a gift to the club on behalf of Sir U. J. K. Shuttleworth of forms which came out of Cheapside School.
Lowerhouse always has been noted for the voluntary work of its members which sometimes was appreciated in a tangible way, and in 1904 a testimonial was arranged for Robert Grimshaw in recognition of services rendered as chairman for over 30 years.
Mr. J.R. Wilkinson took over as secretary in 1883 from W. Wilkinson and the last entry is dated 1905. Descendants of those whose deliberations are painstakingly inscribed in long-hand in the brown and battered book still serve or are associated with Lowerhouse C.C., and Saturday’s ceremony is another milestone in the club’s history.
As the new pavilion is opened, the League officials and the Lowerhouse people will look across the ground to the old one which stands like a symbol a part of the past, which has nurtured the club servants of the present.
Their forefathers could not foresee what Lowerhouse would be like 100 years from their day. Probably they dreamt of a club which would be a power in its own particular sphere – at least a respected sronghold of the game they loved. If the records were kept in a different manner and if strange interpretations were place on the basic points of cricket law, at least it was cricket, and they could be content that their descendants held its ideals in the same respect and affection.
Those who bear the mantle of succession with feelings that today it can be a somewhat un-easy yoke, can take heart from the struggle which undoubtedly occurred in the past. Some day there may be a bi-centenary and the happenings of today may be viewed with the critical gaze of those yet unborn. It is a difficult stewardship – but it is a shining heritage for those who follow the tradition. D.S. (Don Smith)