Women’s Cricket in the past Part Two: Lowerhouse Ladies 1933-1934

Lowerhouse are fortunate to have a Committee minute book from 1934 – 1940. Sadly the first 20 pages are lost, so the minutes start on p. 21 May 29th 1934 and straight away on p. 22, June 6th 1934 there is a surprise,:

“Resolved that we send a ladies team to Burnley on Friday Evening the 15th”.

A few days later on p 24, June 19th

“Resolved that we try to arrange a match for our ladies v Burnley on Wednesday June 27th.” (It doesn’t seem to have been resolved to consult the ladies at all.)

Our ladies??? There was a Ladies team?? Who knew??

The match on 15th June 1934 was duly reported in the Burnley Express.  It was a friendly.  Lowerhouse batted first and scored 21 all out.  The Express reported: “For the home side Mrs. Kerr was in deadly form…taking 5 wickets for 3 runs, while Miss A.A. Walsh, a county player, had 3 for 12.”

Burnley scored 50 for 6 at stumps.  R. Close bowled very well (for Lowerhouse) taking 4 for 19, and promptly changed sides:  “This lady has decided to join the Burnley team”.

The Lowerhouse team was : Mrs. Garnett, E. Cook, M. Isherwood, J. Davis, R. Close,               M. Green, M. Feeney, G. Green, E. Giblin, I. Whittaker, M. Dixon. Some of the surnames are echoed in the men’s teams of that time – such as Close, Cook and Green, so we can perhaps assume they were siblings.

Sadly no photograph has turned up (yet) of the team, and no more match reports.  There is no further mention in the minutes of arranging more games.

The 1933 AGM report states that a Ladies’ section had been formed, and had played several matches with “a certain amount of success”, and, perhaps more importantly “besides increasing the lady membership by about 30, they bought their own cricket material, and paid their own travelling expenses, also handing the sum of £4 9s 0d to the Club for which the Committee were grateful.  We are looking forward to the ladies having a still more successful season in 1934”, and the balance sheet duly records that sum as “Profit on Lady Cricketers’ efforts.”

Burnley Express of 27th May 1933 reported,

“On Tuesday evening the village green presented an animated scene for the lady cricketers were on view.  The Lowerhouse ladies revealed good form in a dual sense, but they will be well advised not to commence match-playing against strong teams such as Littleborough and other ladies’ clubs until they have had at least one full season’s practice.”

However, they don’t seem to have made it past the summer of 1934 and quietly fade from the Club’s records with a zero in the 1934 Balance Sheet against Ladies Cricketers’ Efforts.

Why this happened can only be guesswork, but the local cotton industry was in recession, and these were probably working women from  modest financial circumstances.  For example one of the players listed was E Giblin, who must surely have been related to a family of Giblins, who in 1911 were living at 222 Lowerhouse Lane, comprising Denis, a coal miner, Mary Jane his wife, a weaver and their 8 children.

It may have just been too much cost, and effort to carry on playing, or to try to improve and play competitively.

The Club or indeed their own menfolk, may not have been sufficiently supportive,

Or, they might just have been in it for a laugh and they lost interest.

Did a woman in your family play cricket in the 1930s?  Do you have any documents or photos or memories to share?  If you do Lowerhouse CC would love to hear from you.


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