Take a look below at that fine band of young men who were preparing to take on the world at this so-English game, it looks by the headgear as if there were only four ‘players’ amongst them. Anyway let me take you back to what, by all accounts, was a very fine summer at Melton Mowbray, that of 1855.
A ‘Levelling’ playing field …
“Shops will be closed …..”
But that is all by the by; as long ago as 1855, at a time when a young Queen Victoria was authorising Lord Palmerston to set up his new Tory Government and and an internecine war was raging in the far off Crimea, the good people of little Melton Mowbray were as one, welcoming another summer and learning of the imminent visit to the town by the all conquering, ‘All England’, cricket team. Much excitement and anticipation was abroad as the locals relished the prospect of some excellent sport, whilst entertaining visitors from far and wide, many of whom would be arriving on the recently arrived new railway. The finest of a selection of English and Welsh cricketers, these young men were obliged to test their skills on tours throughout the two countries. Test matches would not commence until 1877 and it was not until 1861 when a representative team first travelled abroad, surprisingly, on a tour of North America. Oddly it might seem today, but in order to create some sort of equality between the relative abilities of the sides visited, in a way, creating a levelling handicap for the ‘stars’, the All Englanders would pit their eleven men against a team of double that number. As the time grew nigh, good weather would have been prayed for.
All England cricket eleven of 1846 (Wikipedia)
ALL ENGLAND versus TWENTY-TWO OF MELTON MOWBRAY.
‘We were remarkably merry at Melton Mowbray last week, which was one of the gayest the good little town had seen for several years, and fairly fulfilled the saying that “it never rains but it pours,” pleasures being then indeed poured in abundance, and many made happy in partaking of them. The Grand All England Cricket Match was the great centre of attraction which served to gather several other good things around it, viz., a concert at the Corn Exchange, succeeded by a ball on the following evening, and Gimrett’s celebrated circus, etc. The cricket match commenced on Thursday morning and extended over three days during which 22 of Melton and the District tried their skill against eleven of England’s choicest cricketers, but sadly failed as will be seen by the score, though the play was pretty good and the game a most interesting one to the thousands who saw and admired it. The match was played in a well selected six acre close adjoining the Southern-lane [now Saxby Road], and surrounded by a calico enclosure. Spacious booths for refreshments, &c., were provided by Mr. Goodacre of the Crown Inn, Mr. Bolderson of the King’s head, Mr. Wells, White Lion, and Mr. Darman, Malt Shovel, beside a numerous array of stalls. Sixpence was charged for admission to the ground, and though the gate-keeper gave a good deal (£108.) for the “Spec,” it would probably pay its way and leave a pretty surplus, so great was the concourse of spectators. Friday was the finest, best and gayest day, and drew the greatest number of visitors, who thronged the place most pleasingly. The shops and offices were considerately closed at noon, and “all went forth a holidaying.” The bells too rang out merrily, and the Saxhorn Band daily enlivened the gay scene on the ground, upon which on Friday afternoon there could have scarcely been less that 4,000 persons present. Returns were printed on the spot at the fall of each wicket. All arrangements appeared exceedingly suitable and answered admirably well, and though they did not win, our cricket friends at Melton merit much praise for providing their fellow townsmen so great and gay a treat. The following is the score:-‘
All England Eleven
Melton Town Notes – 1855
THE EGERTON BREWERY. – Messrs.Barclay and Perkin’s Brewery is certainly not the least of London wonders – so largely do labour, skill and capital there unite in producing “stunning stout.” Vast, however, as is that establishment, it has its copyists in the country, though of course on a much smaller scale; and such is the Egerton Brewery here – a place which the proprietors (Messrs. Adcock) have made most remarkably complete for brewing this national beverage. Their extensive cellar is truly a sight worth seeing – a mine of liquid wealth – which, with its lengthy rows of porter casks and tall tuns, whose “holds” are counted by thousands of gallons, would assuredly surprise and please even a temperate Meltonian, let alone the longing delight it would also inspire in a thoroughly “thirsty soul.” The locality, too, has kept good pace with the very surprising improvements surrounding their bonny brewery, for beside its own pillared entrance, the neighbourhood now shows a row of Alma Cottages, with a Rutland Terrace, and Norman Street, Union-street, as evidence of the building energy of Messrs. Webster, Adcock and Evans. The war will furnish many titles, for beside the Alma one above, we also have Cardigan-terrace, or Mr Dickinson’s tasty improvements at Mount Pleasant; and perhaps ere long have Sweaborg-row and Inkerman-alley.
(Re-printed from Grantham Journal, August 1855)