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History of Weston-super-Mare C.C from 1914 - 1921

 

1914 was not so successful a year though Taylor scored 605 runs and took 45 wickets. 


A. J. Barkla, an important name in Weston cricket, played his first game for the 1st XI, and so did Jim Bridges who was to have a wonderfully successful county career before becoming a club regular. The Weston County Festival started in this year and was played at Clarence Park where thumping defeats were suffered at the hands of Yorkshire and Essex. The wickets did not play well (for Somerset anyway) and heavy rains prior to the Festival cannot have helped cricket preparation. Weston Club officials were responsible for the organisation of the Festival.

Why weren’t the matches played at Charlton Road as had been hoped? The basic reasons for the choice of Clarence Park as the venue were its nearness to the centre and any stake the local council may have had in this. More importantly as Charlton Road isn’t much further out than Clarence Park, the size of the ground, the amount of space for the crowd and for access to and from the beach must have weighed heavily in the Park’s favour. Weston players Harry Saunders and Jim Bridges played in the inaugural match against Yorkshire – a game in which Bridges took 9 wickets but was rather overshadowed by Alonzo Drake taking all 10 wickets in Somerset’s second innings.


Very little cricket was played in Weston during the war years of 1914 - 1918. Scanning the newspapers of the period is a saddening experience. There were many local casualties. Fortunately the club itself lost few members in the war, one being Harold Hippisley.


In 1919 and 1920 were successful on the field. Weston had a very strong team and home games were watched by large crowds. The team photograph ( top of this page) of 1919 exemplifies this. John Daniell who captained Somerset for many years played when available. Jim Bridges and Holland Gibbs shared a 10 th wicket stand of 143 for Somerset against Essex at the Festival. It was a county record that stood for many years.


In 1920 Weston’s leading wicket taker John Mitton played several times for Somerset. Schoolmaster Harry Saunders was still very active as both batsman and Secretary. There seemed to be little inking in the press that 1921 was to be Weston’s last year in Charlton Road. Indeed the wicket had been re-laid, a practice wicket prepared, the outfield improved, seating trebled and accommodation provided for 800 spectators.


Why then the precipitate flight to Uphill Park Road, now called Devonshire Road? Perhaps the Club still had hopes of entertaining County Cricket at a bigger arena. More likely explanations are that the Clarence Park Festival was too well established and the outward growth of Weston as a town was an “ever – haunting fear of dispossession” for building purposes. In any event the prospect of a ‘long term lease from the Graves-Kayfton estate’ with ‘an option to purchase, at a moderate figure, land at the end of Uphill Drove Road’ was too strong to refuse, Weston had played their last game at Charlton Road and would henceforth play at Devonshire Road.