When the Committee and gentlemen supporters of Lowerhouse Cricket Club gathered in the Junction Hotel for their AGM on 12.12.1901, (no ladies of course), they were feeling content. 1901 had been a good year on and off the field, the First Eleven had done well, and whilst the Seconds had been unable to retain the Junior Cup they had won the previous season, the outlook was positive. The club had shown a very good trading profit of £125 and of necessity, substantial improvements had been made to the ground. The landlord (Dugdales, cotton manufacturers) had evicted them from a portion of the ground in preparation for a new road to Rosegrove, so they had been obliged to build a new, but much improved pavilion and to fence off the ground, with further measures planned for next season to improve customer comfort. The works had cost about £300, and they had obtained a loan of £250 from Dugdales, for whom many of them worked.
The club had taken the ground for the next seven years and it was suspected that the landlord intended to put a major road right across the turf at the end of that time, and the pavilion could be moved to a different part of the ground if that happened. In the event it was used for the next 60 years. (More on that here!)
However, before too long storm clouds, were gathering both literally and figuratively.
Although the First Eleven did reasonably well for a time, they finished the Club’s Jubilee season of 1912 bottom of the league, and after several years of pleading for people to pay their subs , (“it is very unpleasant to have to keep reminding defaulters” ), poor gates and with their prime fixtures falling foul of bad weather, the club faced ruin. In more than ten years, they had been unable to repay any of the loan, and were now struggling to even meet the interest payments. The Committee were understandably alarmed, as they were personally responsible for the debt.
It was decided to hold a Grand Bazaar to wipe out the debt, and to this end, a Committee of 50 plus was formed (including a 25 strong Ladies Committee), and 1913 was spent raising money to fund the Bazaar. The ladies excelled themselves with teas, Potato Pie Suppers, sales of work, whist drives etc. The men organised “Smokers” such as the concert held at the Tim Bobbin on 29.11.13 with entertainment provided, amongst others, by “the New York trio of ragtime singers”. Concerts of a more refined nature were also well supported, such as the one in February 1914 in the Lowerhouse Wesleyan School, when “Master Victor Wagster, the boy comic of Manchester, encored many times.”
The Bazaar was to take place over three days, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, 16, 17, 18 April, 1914, in Habergham Schools. We have a copy of the wonderful “Official Handbook they produced for the event, and are delighted that we were recently given another copy of this historic document. Not only does the brochure contain details of what was on offer at the bazaar, an invaluable early history of the club and names and photos of some of the organisers, it is full of adverts from local trades people, from a time when there seemed to be a shop on every corner. A scanned copy is being made available on the website for everyone to enjoy.
Of course, knowing as we do, that the world was about to change forever, it is also a poignant glimpse of a lost way of life.
Next: Three Bazaar Days, Success, Hopes and Fears (including some words of warning, and a hint of what was to come.)
We will be posting over the next 4 days on this subject.
By Anne Cochrane