We are fortunate to have been allowed to see, and to use, the notes made about the the history of Thornbury Cricket Club by Dr Edgar Mervyn Grace. For this we want to thank Les Summerfield, the Thornbury Cricket Club and Mike Grace. The notes include thumbnail sketches of many of the Club’s members. We have separated out the sketches relating to members of the Grace family. Click here to read these sketches
We have listed the sketches in alphabetic order of their surnames:
Captain R. A. Bennett – Dick lived at Thornbury Park and was a great help to to cricket. Tall and slim, he always stood up to the wicket, even the fastest bowling and like Henry Martyn, the Somerset wicket-keeper, was very successful. His son, Alexander, also played for the Club before he joined the Army and left the district.
Frank Biddle – began his long association with Thornbury in 1925, and two years later was elected to the Committee, proving his great worth not only as a player but also as a voluntary worker, helping tremendously with the upkeep of the ‘Ship’ ground for over 25 years when we could not find a full time groundsman. A great cricket enthusiast, Frank was always ready to give advice, and captained the 2nd XI for several seasons. Just over medium pace, he took 36 wickets at just over 6 runs each in his first summer, coming top of the Club bowling, and altogether captured 135 wickets for the first XI for an average of 10.3.
By profession a painter and decorator, Frank was a good Special Constable and saw service with the Maritime Regiment during the War. Afterwards he became groundsman at Thornbury Grammar School, where he wonders for them, making a first class ground with most excellent wickets, and many a boy has reason to be grateful for his good advice which in after years enabled them to become useful members of Thornbury Cricket Club. In 1953 he was elected a Life Member of the Club, an honour which he richly deserved, and such is his interest in the game that he is still often seen watching games at the Ship.
D. Biddle – Don was Frank’s only son and like his father was a very keen cricketer, doing well at the Grammar School and afterwards at the Ship until he joined the Bristol Police, where he is still doing well in his profession, and besides playing cricket in the summer, he acts as a referee in soccer matches during the winter. A medium-fast bowler with a long run he took many wickets and was also a useful steady batsman. In 1954 he captured 5 wickets for 7 runs, including the ‘hat-trick’ against Gloucester Constabulary.
Ron Blanchard – was a brilliant wicket-keeper who graduated from the Second XI in 1941, and each season showed great improvement. He stood up to our fast bowlers, Mayo and Harris, and was very clever at removing the bails at the critical moment when the batsman was moving out of his ground. Ron was also a good steady bat and could also bowl if required. A great cricketer to play with, always full of confidence, and a useful member of the Committee, his record during the nine seasons before his tragically early death was 60 catches and 75 stumpings.
‘Other-End’ Brown – was a great character, who never bowled, was of negligible quality as a batsman, and seldom picked up cleanly, but almost as soon as the ball was in his hands it would be returned to the wicket with unerring aim and amazing speed. E.M. fearing to have his bowling hand injured by these wonderfully swift throw-ins used to shout, ‘T’other end, Brown’ and the wicket-keeper would receive the ball plumb in his gloves with the result that he was always known as ‘Other-End, Brown.’ He could throw 100 yards while standing in a tub.
E. D’A. Burbridge – D’Arcy was a member of Messrs Thurston, Jolly and Burbridge, solicitors of Thornbury with an office in the High Street and lived in Alveston after the First War. He was short and light-weight in build and a very useful bat with a solid defence. He played for the Club from 1919 to 1932, and his son, Peter, came into the side in 1938 from Kelly College, Tavistock, where he was quite useful medium-fast bowler. Peter, like many other promising Thornbury lads lost his life in the Second World War.
Robert Burchell – Bob was a typical cheery village cricketer, a very hard hitter who scored very fast, hitting sixes galore, first for the Castle Cricket Club and then for Thornbury. When needed he could keep wicket very well and on one occasion at the crucial moment stumped a heavyweight batsman who had swung too vigorously at a ball and had overbalanced and was rolling on the crease, causing great amusement. In later years, however Bob put on a lot of weight but despite the loss of one eye, continued to register sixes to the delight of the spectators.
Richard Chestermaster – took over the Berkeley Vale Garage from his brother, Cyril, after the First World War, and played for Thornbury for three or four seasons, keeping wicket and playing several useful innings. In 1924 however he sold the business to Graham Hawkins who became a great supporter and a very successful Chairman of the Club.
Eddie Chestermaster – a nephew of Richard and son of Cyril, was a born cricketer, scoring 102 v Oldown and taking part in a big stand with Dr A. H. Grace (104) in a total of 293 for 3 in 1911, the year when he was picked to play for the County.
Robert Clark – Bob was a clerk in the Bank and a very good and successful bowler for the Castle Club before the 1914 War, especially in combination with ‘Tass’ Thomas, the pair taking nearly all the wickets between them.
William Clutterbuck – also a useful wicket-keeper, who was greatly handicapped by the position of his feet which pointed outwards instead of forward, so that he was nicknamed ‘A Quarter to Three’. He could occasionally make runs when they were badly needed. In later years he held the position of Terrier Man to the Berkeley Hunt, very successfully knowing and covering the country in great style in spite of his disability. He was a true countryman and enjoyed all country sports, and on his retirement from cricket became a good umpire, also acting as baggage man and kind of valet to E.M. Grace in his declining years. He lived in St Mary Street, Thornbury and died in 1922.
Tom Collins – was a splendid left-hand bowler and a useful bat. Very keen and often very successful and in his later years looked after the ground and was a good umpire.
His sons – Martin, A.J. (Jack), Reg and Gilbert all inherited his love for cricket. Jack bowled well with a perfect action, Reg was an all-rounder who just failed to reach County standard, while to Gilbert, our present groundsman much credit is due for the excellent condition of the ground; he is also a very good umpire. Finally Reg’s best season was in 1937 when he scored over 700 runs for an average of 44, including 125 v Bishopston.
George Collins – a brother of Tom, George was a very good groundsman, but was only available for short periods. He was also a useful player for Alveston C. C. for many years, and in 1909 had an amusing ‘hat’ incident when fielding. In 1909 in a game against Alveston at The Ship, George Collins played and wore a very ancient straw boater while fielding at mid-off. Edgar Grace, employing his father’s famous off drive, hit a ball like a bullet scoring a bulls eye right on the front centre of the crown, which being over-ripe, disintegrated and was carried away, leaving the rim resting on George’s head looking like a Halo, much to the amusement of both players and spectators. Over 50 years later he recalled the episode to the batsman and was still enjoying the fun.
Rev. Canon A. W. Cornwall – life member, 1909 to 1932 Vicar of Thornbury, 1889 to 1924. Played for Thornbury on the Castle ground, being a steady bat. He had a sporting family of 4 sons and 3 daughters, also a son-in-law who was a Cambridge Hockey ‘Blue’ and with Miss R. Lloyd and Norman and Edgar Grace played mixed hockey on the road side of the ‘Ship Field’ with great success. He became Archdeacon in 1924 and left Thornbury and his tragic death soon after his retirement after being bitten while separating a dog fight was a terrible blow to his many friends in Thornbury.
A.E.C. Cornwall – the eldest of the Canon’s four sons, Allan Cornwall made his mark in cricket during the First World War by scoring three consecutive centuries for Marlborough, and was a very good sound batsman, well remembered by all who batted at the other end, for he used to drive the ball like a bullet straight back on the side of the wicket, where the other batsman had to jump very quickly to avoid being killed. He became a Master at Marlborough and played several times for Gloucestershire C. C. C., though he enjoyed playing for Thornbury much more.
Frank, Norman and Nigel Cornwall – all brothers of Allan, although nothing like such good players, turned out occasionally for Thornbury until they left to distinguish themselves in other fields – Frank in the Marines, and the other two in the Church.
Rev. C. R. Cotter – life member 1930 after playing for the club from 1924, after which he went to Mansfield, Nottinghamshire where his first duty was to take the funeral of a popular Notts and England batsman, W. W. (‘Dodge’) Whysall at which ten thousand were present. A very jovial sporting Vicar of Thornbury he enjoyed his cricket very much, and it was always a pleasure to play with him. His sermons were short and to the point, often illustrated by stories of local events, which pointed out the moral. A curious feature was the fact that he could not preach from the high pulpit and addressed the congregation from a low wooden platform on the floor.
John Croome Cullimore – a very useful wicket-keeper, who always wore brown boots, brown pads and gloves, which almost matched his sandy, red hair. A coal merchant by trade in Thornbury, he was a very stubborn bat who never made many runs.
William Curtis – ‘Old Bill’ or ‘Bumpa Curtis’ as he was affectionately called by the locals of Alveston, was a great-hearted cricketer, and was often alluded to as the best practice bowler in the world. Slow left arm, he could bowl any type of ball to order, pitching on a length, marked by half-a-crown or a feather, and breaking either way or with top spin as directed.
At one period of his career he was groundsman and professional to the Grange Club in Scotland and also to Clifton College where he coached the boys to play his bowling. He also coached at Radley, but after the First World War he was a very successful groundsman as well as playing regularly for Thornbury, taking over 100 wickets in 1920 and 1921 at only 7 runs apiece. During the next four seasons his ‘bag’ was no fewer than 300 wickets for an average of 8! His final performance in 1925 brought him six wickets for 6 against Pilning after which an illness affected his heart and caused his retirement although he continued to stand as umpire until the end of 1928. His connection with Thornbury C. C. which lasted for 45 years ended with his death in 1931.
R. A. Diment – Tony was a very good schoolboy cricketer for Thornbury Grammar School and a fine correct batsman who scored a century for the school and another for Thornbury in 1944. At the end of 1950 he left Thornbury for Leicester where he displayed promising form for Leicestershire that he became Secretary and afterwards Captain.
A.H. Fyffe – was an Oxford Harlequin, very well built, tall, and strong; a natural fast bowler, who never tired and took a great many wickets at a small cost. He was also a useful bat, who made runs quickly when necessary. One day while fielding in the gulley he received a severe blow on the back of the head from a throw-in from third man, who was aiming at the bowler’s wicket. The rest of the team were amazed that he did not appear to be hurt, but he explained that the ball had hit the seam of his cap, and this had taken out the sting! Alan Fyffe was the Berkeley Estate Agent and died at an early age from sleepy sickness in 1938.
Frank Gayner – played for Thornbury C. C. from its formation and was a very useful and untiring round arm fast bowler. Owner of a high class draper’s shop in the High Street, and was descended from an ancient Thornbury family, whose crest was a ‘Hedgehog’.
S. H. Gayner – son of one of the first members of Thornbury C. C., Sidney was a useful cricketer, keeping wicket for the Castle Club and from 1919 a very enthusiastic member of the Committee. Vice-captain from 1919 to 1921 and Vice Chairman from 1948 – 1965. After ceasing to play he stood as umpire and enjoyed his cricket in this way, rendering great service to the Club until his death. He succeeded his father in the Drapers shop in the High Street opposite the entrance to Park House, where E.M. Grace lived, but on retiring he went to live in an old house on the Plain.
During World War I he served in the Royal Flying Corps and later became Vice-Chairman of the Thornbury British Legion.
Captain H. V. Gillett – a master at Winchester, lived at Thornbury House just before the First World War and in 1920 was a very welcome addition to the team when at home during the school holidays. It may be related that he was so exhausted by his efforts during the term that he spent the first week of his holiday resting, often in bed, and was not available for cricket! A stylish bat he made a great many runs for Thornbury when they were needed and greatly helped to win matches. His elder brother, Colonel C. R. Gillett, also turned out for Thornbury when staying in the village, whose son, Guy, had the makings of a fine cricketer but was killed in the War.
John Gunnery – a very useful first wicket batsman with some lovely off strokes and an excellent fielder, John has been a keen Secretary of the Club since 1967. His grandfather was an enthusiastic member of the Committee from 1930 to 1935.
H.L. Hardwicke – a six foot three athlete, The Squire of Tytherington played for Thornbury, being a good bat and an excellent fielder, chasing the ball at great speed. Often after lunch at ‘The Ship’ before the game resumed, he would challenge anybody to a race round the ground and would leave all comers far behind. As a horseman he was noted for his marvellous hands, being able to control the most vicious and hard-mouthed horse. Finally, he had a cleft palate, so that his speech was difficult to understand.
John Harker – a bank clerk and son of the Methodist Minister in Thornbury, John first played for the Club in 1928. He was a stocky and strongly built, and bowled medium-fast off a very short run. His batting was bright and effective when needed while his fielding improved tremendously during the 5 years he was here. His bowling record for Thornbury read: 661 overs 1,166 runs, 162 wickets for an average of 10; his best year being 1930 when he topped the average with 43 wickets for just over ten runs each. In 1931 when playing in an Old Boys’ match he not only took 9 wickets for 8 runs but also scored 92!
W. Harris – Bill came to Eastwood in 1937 as Sergeant-Instructor at the Gas School and then Civil Defence, and when his health improved became one of the most successful all-round members of the Club. His bowling was exceptional and at times unplayable against well known batsmen. Well built and very strong, he did not take a long run, but starting with the ball in his left hand it was not until just before he reached the bowling crease that he changed the ball over into his right hand and delivered it at a fast pace. In fact, two balls an over were almost the fastest ever off so short a run. He rarely, if ever, bowled short, and keeping a good length was a master of the Yorker, and no one could tell when his fast expresses were coming. During the ten years to 1947 he captured 568 wickets at a cost of 6.6 runs each, and like Bob Mayo, Bill never liked to be taken off, being a glutton for work and finding that he stiffened up if rested.
His individual feats are far too numerous to recount here, but perhaps his best bowling figures were 5 wickets without conceding a run in 1940 when Oldown were dismissed for 15, while his finest hour with the bat was the following year when he hit a huge six to win the E. M. Grace Centenary match at Downend. Even with his great pace Bill rarely hit or injured an opposing batsman. In his younger days he played for both the Army and Hampshire.
Wilfred Harrison – became a member in 1935, a tall, lean, wiry man, he bowled a good medium paced ball and was a useful tail-end batsman, who could score quickly. However he managed to be so good was a miracle as the middle finger of his right hand was flexed permanently in the palm and his ring finger partly so, yet he held the ball with his other fingers and thumb, even making great catches off very hard hits. Originally he played for Clifton, and turned out many good young players from his prep school, the Downs School, in Bristol; he also played for Dorset for many years and twice performed a ‘hat-trick’ for Thornbury.
Dennis J. Hawkins – the eldest son of Mr & Mrs Graham Hawkins, who were both tragically killed in a car crash at ‘The Hare and Hounds’ at Westonbirt, when out for a country run after the 1969 season had closed, distinguished himself at Thornbury Grammar School as a promising batsman, scoring a century, while for Thornbury he was a steady bat and a safe field and hit up two hundreds for the Club. An extremely useful committee man, he held many offices with much success, being Treasurer 1955/56, Vice Captain 1956, Captain 1957-61, Assistant Match Secretary 1962 and finally Match Secretary 1963/67, when he left Thornbury for High Wycombe. Dennis took his cricket very seriously and his wife, Anne, gave great help to the Club by acting as Scorer and also helping with teas.
Derek G. Hawkins – second son of Graham Hawkins, quite overshadowed his elder brother, enjoying outstanding success at the Grammar School which, at that time, produced ‘Chick’ Hamilton and Tony Diment who, after playing for Thornbury for several seasons, moved to Leicester, where he married and after appearing in the Leicestershire team became Secretary and then Captain.
Derek did so well for Thornbury that he was selected to play for Gloucestershire and became professional but although he did well for the County they never gave him much help or encouragement, despite his mastery over Tony Lock and Jim Laver in matches against Surrey. He was awarded his County Cap in 1957 when only 21, after scoring his maiden century in first class cricket – 106 in two and a half hours – against Sussex at Hove; three years later he made a fine 102 against Northants at Northampton. During his county career his fielding was very good but his batting was inconsistent and he decided to retire and assist his father in his motor business, playing regularly for Thornbury, successfully captaining the side from 1963-1966, and is still an active member of the team, bowling well and delighting the spectators with his polished stroke-play.
P. Hawkins – younger brother of Dennis and Derek was born in 1940; and survived two near misses in early life. First, when he was lying in his pram in the Garage yard, a high hit for six dropped close to him, causing his irate father to demand that the Club put up netting, similar to that on Clifton College Close, on the road boundary, but on second thoughts decided not to put the Club to so great an expense. The second was when at the age of two or three he was determined to ride on the heavy motor roller mower and several times nearly fell off the platform, putting the wind up the driver. Later, although he was troubled by attacks of asthma, he followed in the steps of his elder brothers, and becoming a good bat, but unfortunately, after playing some lovely strokes he suddenly loses his concentration and his wicket when apparently well set. At a very early age he showed that he could bowl a very good bowl and took 7 wickets for 23 against the County Etceteras XI. He altered his style the following season, however, and had not been quite so successful with the ball, but concentrating on his batting he hit a century in 1967. He is a brilliant fielder, especially at forward short-leg.
Wing-Commander A. Hignell OBE RAF – Tony made his mark at Denstone College from 1944 to 1946, and captained the School XI and also played for the Rest at Lord’s against the Lord’s Schools and the Army. In his early days with Thornbury he bowled fast-medium leg breaks after the style of the great S.F. Barnes, one of England’s finest bowlers. Unfortunately however the following season on the advice of the master in charge of cricket, he changed to fast in-swingers to a close-in leg field, and although he was useful in this type of bowling, he was never able to regain the leg spin, which might have brought him the greatest fame. A very good hard-hitting bat, Tony scored three centuries for Thornbury, as well as a very good 90 against a County XI, for Charlie Barnett’s Benefit in 1947. For the RAF he played cricket in many different parts of the world, being particularly successful in Cyprus, where he made ten hundreds, and hit sixes off the front foot. He also turned out for Gloucestershire 2nd XI, as well as the Gloucestershire Gypsies and Denstone Wanderers, and in 1954 celebrated the birth of his son, who is now distinguishing himself at Denstone, by scoring a splendid 132 not out. Apart from cricket, he was an international javelin thrower and represented England against New Zealand.
S. Hignell – Steve, like his elder brother, was a good field at cover or extra cover, and could throw in well. His batting was sound rather than brilliant, but he played a great many attractive strokes all round the wicket. A charming fellow, Steve was slight, nothing like so tall and powerful as Tony, and when he left Thornbury to go into business with Shell he was greatly missed by the Club.
J. Hodges – Jack first played for the Castle Club as a boy, showing great promise, and on his release from the Forces made his debut for Thornbury in 1920, becoming Vice Captain four years later, a position he was to hold for the next twenty years.
He was tall and well built, though his movements appeared slow and deceiving. Liking to go in first wicket down, fielders often crowded on his bat when he came in, but after a few overs he would open up, hitting sixes in a leisurely way, and they soon scattered! As a bowler he was extremely useful as first change, with an easy action and on the slow side of medium, apparently faster off the ground than through the air. With a short run he made good use of his height and was very difficult to play on certain wickets. In the field at first slip he rarely missed a catch. His best season was undoubtedly 1930 when he smashed the chimney pot on the Garage for a record six, described in detail elsewhere, and he was nearly always near the top of both batting and bowling averages.
Although making many scores between 80 and 99 it was not until 1935 that he succeeded in reaching as century, a brilliant innings of 113 v Stroud, in the course of which he felled a boy, who was watching from an elm tree behind the sight screen; he made his hundred in 58 minutes in partnership with Edgar Grace (41). On our return to Thornbury Jack was overheard to say in his peculiar Gloucestershire accent ‘Well, I suppose there is nothing else to live for now’.
When he finally retired in 1944 he had scored no fewer than 9,487 runs for Thornbury for an average of 15.9 as well as taking 767 wickets for just under 13 runs each, and in 1948 was elected Vice President of the Club, a position he held until his death in 1961. Being highly skilled at his trade as a carpenter in Castle Street it was very amusing to see him repair his bat by using nails instead of pegs before binding or strapping it. J ack was an amazing character, who absolutely lived for cricket and was extremely knowledgeable concerning the game, avidly studying cricket literature with an astonishing memory right up to the end. He loved watching County Cricket and was terribly thrilled on hearing of the famous Australian-West Indian Tie.
A. Horder – Alan was the son of the Thornbury butcher and lived in the High Street. He proved himself a very useful batsman and fielder but after two seasons he received a very severe head injury in a motor cycle crash. Part of the front portion of his brain was extruded through his forehead but was excised by his surgeon and a plate inserted. After several relapse however he made a great recovery and playing as well as ever, making his highest score of 83 and having an average of 23. It was terribly alarming when a medium fast bowler hit him on the plate ringing the bell, but apparently with no evil consequences. He was a happy cricketer and his death at an early age was a sad loss to the Club.
R. W. Jackson – ‘Jacker’ came to Thornbury in 1932 as Headmaster of Thornbury Grammar School and soon established himself as a regular member of the Club. His bowling and fielding were of a very high calibre, while his batting improved greatly during the next two seasons. It would be difficult to name a keener cricketer, putting heart and soul into the game he set the XI a very fine example. He bowled right-hand leg-breaks and was a master of spin and length, so that it was a joy to field at silly mid-off or short extra cover, but he batted left-handed and made many useful scores. In 1934 at the end of the season he was promoted to Grimsby and his absence was severely felt. In his first season for Thornbury he took 77 wickets for an average of 11, and the following year he not only captured 73 wickets at a cost of 12 runs apiece but returned a batting average of 22 with as top score of 52. His best bowling performance was against Clifton, a very strong side, when he took 7 wickets for 20. Altogether from 1932 to 1934 he made 962 runs for an average of 16.2, and dismissed 226 opponents at a cost of just under 11 runs each. Needless to say, during his headship the School XI improved by leaps and bounds, as did Thornbury C. C.
H. Jenner-Fust jnr – a useful cricketer who lived at Hill Court, was a J. P. and Chairman of the Board of Guardians, reaching the great age of 98 – his father lived to be 99 – he often played for Thornbury.
Rev. Denton Jenner-Fust – the younger son of H. Jenner-Fust jnr, Denton did not himself play cricket but had three sons who did, all three losing their lives in World War II.
Lieutenant Richard Jenner-Fust R.N., O.B.E. – son of the above was born in 1914 and was a very good club member and fast bowler as well as a hard hitting, fast scoring batsman and a safe fielder who many thought should have played for the Royal Navy at Lord’s but was not chosen because of his bowling action. He took a great many wickets for Thornbury when home on leave but most unfortunately was drowned at sea on February 27th 1942 when he went down with H.M.S. Electra.
2nd Lieutenant Thomas Jenner-Fust – younger brother of Richard (born December 1920) Thomas was a steady bat and kept wicket for Eton 2nd XI. Joined the 9th Queen’s Royal Lancers but played for Thornbury when home on leave, taking part in that most exciting game at Stroud in 1939, Mayo and Harris having dismissed the home team for 91, Thornbury had replied with 73 for 9 when Thomas joined Edgar Grace who, thinking of the famous Yorkshire pair, Hirst and Rhodes, said to him ‘We want 19 to win and we’ll get ‘em in singles! Some proposition seeing that George Wedel and M. H. Cullimore were bowling at their best, but the score rose steadily and when we wanted 5 to win, Edgar hit a six! Thomas died in action in 1942, the same year as his brother, Richard.
Lieutenant Herbert Jenner-Fust – the youngest of the three brothers, Herbert was a useful all-rounder and played for Thornbury when on leave. He died while serving with the Gloucestershire Regiment in Burma in 1944.
R.P. Keigwin – became a member in 1928 at the age of 44 when still a master at Clifton College and continued when he was appointed Warden of Wills Hall at Bristol University. Although appearing in only a few games to start with, he played fairly regularly up to 1945 when he retired to Suffolk. His keenness, knowledge of the laws of cricket and the finer points of the game were wonderful and he was always willing to impart them to others. His concentration and stroke play, when batting, was a marvellous instruction to young players and spectators alike, and many a time he fought his way out of a tight corner with care and patience to assist his side to victory. Having obtained his ‘Blue’ for Cambridge as a bowler, he was very useful in that department when called on, sometimes forsaking his normal style to experiment with ‘lobs’ and also make use of the ball to swing with a suitable wind. He took at least sixty wickets for Thornbury, but his great ambition was to break one of the windows in the Garage Wall, but in spite of his skill as a batsman, he never succeeded although he once struck the lintel, explaining afterwards that it must be some form of parabola. He was a great talker, and considered his 170 in 120 minutes versus Listers (Dursley) at the age of 47, one of his best innings.
Arthur Knapp – graduated from Oldbury where he and his brother, Wilbur, held sway, and became one of the best club players of off-spin bowling. He was a good bat and scored fairly quickly while his defence was very sound. He was also a useful change bowler and a very safe field.
R. Leakey – Dick was a schoolmaster, first at Tytherington, and then at Thornbury, and in his spare time lived for cricket. A good, hard-hitting batsman and an extremely cunning bowler, he had played for both Tytherington and Oldown before joining Thornbury. He was Assistant Treasurer from 1948 to 1952 and enjoyed a great season in 1947, when he not only scored 331 runs but took 43 wickets for just over 8 runs apiece. His best innings was a very hard hit century in 60 minutes against Upton St Leonard’s. His cheerful disposition and great knowledge of the game made him a most popular member of the team and in 1949 he enjoyed his finest bowling performance when he took 6 wickets for 9 runs.
J. Lewis – John graduated from the Grammar School, where he learnt his cricket and became a stalwart of the Club. A sound bat, he made at least one century and occasionally bowled slow breaks, but he excelled as a safe fielder at cover or extra cover and was equally reliable in the deep. Vice Captain in 1958, he holds the M.C.C. Certificate for Coaching.
H. Lewis – Howard who is John’s eldest brother and at the Grammar School was an all-rounder, played very good club cricket. A successful schoolmaster, he kept up his cricket after leaving Thornbury, where he was Chairman of the Old Thornburians. Like his brother, Howard also holds an M.C.C. Coaching Certificate.
M. Lewis – Mike, the youngest of the three brothers, bowled a good fast ball with an easy action, and played for the Club for several seasons.
R. Mayo – Bob, a Policeman, came to Thornbury in 1937 and immediately made his mark as a great bowler for the Club. Later on his batting improved very considerably, but often hitting the ball in the air he was missed more often than any other batsman in the side and cries of ‘Mayo’s Luck’ were heard on many occasions. It was, however, as a bowler that Bob made his name. Six feet seven inches tall, on a slim side, he bowled fast with a good swinging action and some off-break, but unfortunately did not make use of his full height. And it was this that decided him to remain a Policeman instead of becoming a professional cricketer, much to his and Thornbury’s advantage, as he quickly rose to the top and is now a Chief Superintendent, enjoying his cricket at Thornbury until he was posted elsewhere.
During the nine years which he played for the Club Bob took 459 wickets for an average of 9.2, and while it is impossible to record all his bowling feats here, mention must be made of his double ‘hat-trick’ against the Clifton Crocodiles with a wet ball after a rainstorm which is described in detail elsewhere. At the end of the same season – 1939 – he captured the first 9 Bishopston wickets and was bitterly disappointed when the tenth fell to the bowler at the other end, the result of a miraculous catch. At times Bob was quite unplayable and returned some extraordinary figures, and in combination with Bill Harris bowled out a number of very strong sides for low scores. A safe fielder at slip he was amused to find himself placed at deep third man or fine long leg so as to relieve his concentration when not bowling. Terribly keen and a delightful player to have in his side, Bob was always willing to help with practice, while he put in any spare time he might have, assisting the Skipper on the ground, which was invaluable during the War. In order to make best use of his talents at this time, our opponents were made to bat first and having bowled them out cheaply, Bob would make as many runs as he could before leaving the game to go on duty at 6pm. He acted as vice-Captain in 1947 and 1948, succeeding Jack Hodges, and also turned out for Gloucestershire County Police. In 1950 he took 9 wickets for 11 against Lincoln Imps, and his batting record for Thornbury was 2,083 runs for an average of just over 15.
W. L. Neale – on leaving Cirencester Grammar School where he was a contemporary of the great Walter Hammond and also Henry Witchell, Billy, as he affectionately called, applied to become a member of Thornbury C. C. at the age of 19 as the wickets at Berkeley, where he lived, were very much inferior. He displayed very good form but had a lot to learn and it wasn’t until he had scored 110 not out against Chipping Sodbury that he was selected to play for the County, making 37 v Lancashire and 15 v Warwickshire, being run out in both innings!
During 1923 he scored 550 runs for Thornbury, coming second with an average of 34.40, while with his innocuous slow bowling he captured 17 wickets at just over ten runs each. The following season he made 572 runs with a top score of 81 and an average of 31.7, finishing at the top of the batting, and enjoying considerable success with the ball, took 40 wickets for 5.6 runs apiece.
Having gained a regular place in the Gloucestershire team and become a professional Billy was not able to play very often for Thornbury, but in 1926 scored a very good 105. His full record for the Club was: 58 inns, 7 not outs, 1,452 runs, top score 110 not out for an average of 28.4, and he only just missed a ‘ton’ of wickets, taking 98 at just over 8 runs each. He was an excellent fielder, especially in the deep, jerking in with speed and accuracy, very reminiscent of EM., after he had thrown his arm out in Australia. For the County he had the splendid record of over 15,000 runs, including 14 centuries, and a top score of 145 v Hampshire, in 1927, and six times he totalled over a thousand runs in a season. As a bowler he was not asked to perform very often but against Somerset in 1937 he exploited his slow leg-breaks to great advantage, taking 6 wickets for only 9 runs! It was singularly unfortunate that when he was awarded a well-earned benefit in 1946 against Essex at Gloucester both that game and the one organised by to C. C. at the Ship were ruined by rain, and his benefit fund brought in only £2,747. The Club however made a fair contribution from social events and collections of £62.
George Ord – came to us from the North, where he had had experience in the Sunderland League, in 1930, being a carpenter by trade and working at Hortham Hospital. George was a good all-rounder, and as a batsman scored his runs quickly and could be relied on to make scores up to 30. He did however score a century for the 2nd XI and in 1941 hit a brilliant 110 not out for the first team against the Maritime Regiment at the Ship. A good change or stock bowler he had a lovely easy action at a pace just short of medium, taking 259 wickets for an average of 15.1, plus many good performances with the 2nd XI which are not recorded here. A safe field, he was noted for his noisy appeals, and he would have made a good wicket-keeper if he had not been wanted as a bowler, and when called on in an emergency kept exceedingly well. His full record over the 17 years he played for the Club shows that he totalled 3,110 runs for an average of 13, while his best bowling was against Hamset in 1959 when he took 9 wickets for 41.
Archie Penduck – Archie, or as he was more often called ‘Arch’ whose father, W. Penduck first played for Thornbury in 1884, started his career with the Castle Cricket Club in early 1900’s. Tall, athletic, a good sound batsman with lots of strokes, he had a lovely bowling action with a medium run-up and bowling a good length at just over medium pace and using his full height he took heaps of cheap wickets. For two or three years Archie was professional to the Grange Club in Scotland. In August 1919 he had the great misfortune to fracture his left elbow when playing a bumper and was out of the 1st XI for a season. As he did not play after August Bank Holiday that year his figures were really exceptional – batting 17 innings 314 runs average 20.90. Top of the bowling with 82 wickets at a cost of 6.20 runs apiece; his best performances were: 6 for 16 v Imperial; 8 for 33 v Cotham; 6 for 20 v Dursley; 6 for 24 v Shirehampton; 6 for 27 v United Banks; and 5 for 15 v Frenchay – some of the strongest teams of the day. Archie had an outstanding bowling performance in 1906 when bowling from the Garage end he captured all ten wickets for 15 runs.
William Poole – Billy was a most popular Vice-Captain of the 2nd XI during the 30’s and on the retirement of J. Hodges he was elected vice-captain of the 1st XI. A severe motor accident injured his hand in 1938 which affected his fielding, although he put up a very brave show. A useful bat and bowler, he was terribly keen and put in a great deal of work on the ground during the War and a few years after. He was also a most helpful member of the Selection Committee during his career and a popular entertainer at social functions. On his retirement he officiated as umpire which he still does in 2nd XI matches. On one occasion the Club produced umpires coats made by T.C. Smith for the Castle Club, which were unusually long and Billy, being very short, his reached down over his feet. First aid had to be rendered by Dr Edgar, who produced surgical safety pins and Bob Mayo who pinned then up!
A.K. Potter – Arthur lived at Almondsbury, and in addition to being a keen tennis player he was also a good bat, on the slow side perhaps but very sound and on several occasions as an opener helped the Skipper to put on over a hundred for the first wicket. His fielding was keen, good and very safe and it was always a pleasure to have him in the team. As a supporter of the Club he was unsurpassed, even maintaining his interest when absent in Burma or Paris. He played for Thornbury from 1924 to 1947.
Dr D. C. Prowse – joined the Club in 1926, and lived in Castle Street, where he practised as a G. P. A very useful lower order batsman, usually going in at no. 7, he made many good scores, especially when runs were needed, but his great value to the team was in his fielding, specialising at third man to the fast bowlers and deep mid-wicket to the slow ones. Here he was very safe and brought off a great many fine catches, as well as saving a lot of boundaries. Like the Skipper, he was frequently called away to attend to medical and surgical emergencies, but during his playing career he was a good and regular Committee man, devoting his energies for the benefit of the Club. Read more
Gilbert Pullin – Bert was an athletic figure, on the thin side, very active and wiry, and commenced playing for Thornbury in 1924. He made a quiet start with considerable promise, having an unusual character, he was very interesting to play with as he was a keen student of the game. An excellent all-rounder, he usually batted second wicket down, dealing with any ball short of a length, scoring 5 centuries – 4 of them not out – and at the close of the 1933 season played five consecutive not out innings of over 60. He executed many lovely strokes and usually finished in the first five of the Thornbury batting averages, while as a bowler he was more than useful as an opener or first change, being nearly of medium pace or off or top spin with a perfect length which at times was quite implacable. His best season was 1934 when, taking 79 wickets at just under 10 runs apiece, he was second in the averages, his finest performance being all ten wickets for 27 against Robinson’s C. C. for which feat he was presented with the ball, suitably mounted; a really great effort. His fielding, especially in the slips, was truly remarkable, practically nothing escaped him, while the catches he made off Edgar’s bowling would not have appeared as chances to anyone else, except perhaps Wally Hammond. In 1932 he held 26 catches, the usual highest number being 16. During his career he totalled over 6,200 runs for an average of 25.5 and captured 603 wickets at a cost of 11.9 runs each, including a ‘hat-trick’.
Towards the end with changing sight he could not make up his mind to play in glasses and became absorbed in reading Dick Tyldesley’s book on slow break bowling, which he wanted to adopt, much against the advice of both his skipper and R. P. Keigwin, as he was still very successful at his normal pace. In conclusion Bert was a great Club cricketer, who might well have become a good county player, had it not been for his curious temperament.
Frank Pullin – Bert’s elder brother, Frank was not so tall but thick set, and like him a very keen cricketer, who joined Thornbury in 1929 from G.W.R. and Pilning, playing regularly until 1937, with a break in 1934 when he was on night duty. A good all-rounder, he was also an excellent opening bat and on many occasions shared in a first wicket stand of over a hundred with his Skipper, scoring at least one century. As an opening bowler he was a great acquisition, with a nice easy run and action he bowled medium pace, keeping a good length and often making the ball leave the bat with the same action as his usual off spin. Taking 222 wickets for an average of 14, he was a very good fielder and in his later years a staunch supporter of Pilning C. C.
J. Riddle – in 1951 J. Riddle, a Grammar School boy playing for Thornbury at the age of 15 against Glos. Agricultural Executive Committee, took 4 wickets with consecutive balls, and 9 wickets were down for 9 before the last pair raised the score to 20; Riddle finished with 5 wickets for 6 runs. Thornbury, having previously declared at 202 for 8, won handsomely by 182 runs.
S. J. V. Rouch – played for Bristol University as a batsman before coming to Thornbury as Headmaster of the Grammar School in 1935, when he joined the Committee, making several good scores for the Club. He has done a great deal for cricket at the School and has produced many good young players who afterwards made their mark, some in First Class cricket.
J. Sage – John, an Alveston boy, who had had a little coaching from W. Curtis, joined the Club in 1942. A useful, change bowler he often broke up a stubborn partnership, and when batting, slogged runs quickly to win a match. A safe field in any position, John became a useful member of the team, although he did not quite maintain his early promise. His work on the Committee was of inestimable value and he is now Chairman of the Club, and played as Vice-Captain of the 2nd XI as recently as 1966.
P.W. Setchell – took over the firm of solicitors, Thurston & Burbridge, both of whom had been keen Thornbury players, and had their offices in the High Street. Pat was a very steady left arm bowler, and could be relied on to keep quite good batsmen quiet, while as a batsman he made several good scores, when runs were needed, and his fielding and catching reached a high standard. He was elected Secretary of the Club in 1950, holding the post for 3 years, and in 1956 captained the side. His best bowling performance was in 1949 when he took 5 wickets for only 16 runs to defeat a very strong Bristol Wayfarers team.
T. C. Smith – a very good all-round cricketer with an immense passion for the game almost from the cradle. A lob bowler and a steady bay with a great reputation for fielding. So sure was his catching at long-on that E. M. Grace, when bowling, and seeing a catch going in his direction, used to shout ‘Run, Tommy, run’ and then, turning to the batsman, would say ‘You needn’t run, you’re out!’. Tommy played until he was 73, and when he fielded at point was in great danger as he was too close in. During his career he became secretary of the second XI – the Thornbury Castle C. C. – often acting as captain and treasurer from its formation in 1880 until its amalgamation with Thornbury C. C. in 1919, when he still played occasionally at ‘The Ship’. He had three sons, all good cricketers, ‘H’, ‘Fred’, and ‘Arthur’. The latter being a sound bat, who scored a great century against Berkeley at ‘The Ship’. On one occasion, when playing against ‘Robinsons’ at St Johns Lane, Bedminster, he felt compelled to retire in the middle of his innings when firing started on the nearby rifle range, as he suffered from shell-shock brought on by the War. Tommy Smith was a famous tailor, noted for the hard-wearing of his cloth and his excellent workmanship. He made all the livery for the Berkeley Hunt under the Fitzhardinges, and the ‘Pink coats’ and white breeches for the Gentry, going up to London once a week in pursuit of his trade. He lived at Porch House in Castle Street, where he had his workshop. This has now been converted into a Roman Catholic Church. In 1876 he scored 61 against Chewton Keynsham in the famous game when E. M. Grace was undefeated for 327 and Thornbury totalled 502 for the loss of only 4 wickets! H. P. Thurston was not out 55. Read more
Extras – it should be mentioned that T. C. Smith (The Tailor) who had distinguished himself as a fielder at long –on when Thornbury were performing great deeds from 1870 – 1880 and then became Secretary and often captain of the 2nd XI when it was created and became the Thornbury Castle Cricket Club, turned out in 1923 at the age of 72, taking 3 wickets for 36 runs, as well as scoring 66 runs in 13 innings with a top score of 20 not out! The old man enjoyed the game so much that he would have gone on playing indefinitely, but because he would insist on fielding either at point or silly point, it was felt that the danger was so great that it was decided to stop him playing by not selecting him!
A. (‘Tass’) Thomas – ‘Tass’ Thomas lived at Oldbury and was a great left-hand bowler at a pace nearing that of the famous C. W. L. Parker, and at times was almost unplayable when assisted by Bob Clark at the other end. After his most successful season in 1919 however he departed for Australia to our great loss.
J. Thompson – the youngest son of Mr. A. E. Thompson, a baker in the High Street, Jack was a keen cricketer at an early age, and loved to be taking an active part during the whole game, and was a member of the newly-formed Thornbury Cricket Club, which amalgamated with the Thornbury C. C. in 1928, and was elected Vice Captain of the 2nd XI, which he raised to a really strong side. Quite a good bat, it was his bowling which proved more useful when he was promoted to the first XI in 1938, and during the next 9 years he took 118 wickets for an average of 15.8. An acrobatic fielder, often bringing off a spectacular catch in the manner of a soccer goal-keeper, Jack was also useful as an emergency wicket-keeper. He held office as Chairman from 1948 to 1954, and during his career worked very hard for the finances and social efforts of the Club.
Henry Thompson – was Jack’s elder brother, and a very strong, defensive bat with no scoring strokes but could be relied on to keep one end going and in the great win over Bristol Wayfarers in 1948 put on nearly a hundred runs for the last wicket with Bob Mayo, whose score was in the eighties, while Jack’s share was 11 not out. In another match he had a long and remarkable partnership with Bill Harris which enabled his side to make an honourable draw. Henry batted right-handed and bowled left, and being in his father’s business was a great help with the catering for whist drives and dances in aid of the Club.
E. and B. Thompson – Eddie and Brian were nephews of Henry and Jack, being the sons of Dennis, their eldest brother, who strange to relate was not a cricketer. Eddie who was always very much overweight was nevertheless a useful medium-fast bowler with a somewhat ungainly action, while Brian was a very good bat.
H. P. Thurston – a beloved humourist and a very useful cricketer; a very good batsman, who made several centuries for Thornbury during his long career. As a fielder he was apt to stray from the actual position allotted to him so that E.M. had frequently to call him to attention, saying ‘Harry, you have moved four or five yards from where I placed you on the boundary’. One occasion, however this was too much for him, so he picked some dirt to mark the spot where E. M. had put him, and the next time that E. M. said he’d moved, he called him over and pointed out the exact spot where he’s placed the lump of dirt.
He was a very successful batsman for the Castle Club after 1880, and for several seasons played for both clubs.
Henry Privett Thurston came from a very old and esteemed family, whose residence was at Kineton House, and he and his ancestors practised as solicitors with an office in the upper part of the High Street, which is now used by Pat Setchell, a partner in the firm.
Harry occupied Close House adjoining for many years, and on E.M.’s death in 1911 moved into Park House, where he lived as a bachelor with his brother, Lawrence, until he died in 1917. He made at least 6 centuries for Thornbury; one of them not out, and his most treasured memory was his unbroken fifth wicket partnership of 266 with E. M. against Chewton Keynsham in 1876 when, as we have already seen, the Little Doctor took out his bat for 327 while Harry’s contribution was a modest 55 not out.
Ron Tucker – Ron was a builder in Thornbury and from 1925 was quite a good bowler, who could bat a bit, but in 1931 he became a very successful Captain of the 2nd XI whom he led for a few seasons before proving his worth in the first team.
E. J. Underhill – an Old Thornburian and solicitor’s clerk, he played regularly for Thornbury for two decades before World War I and afterwards became an ideal scorer and a very fair umpire for many years. When he took on the duties of umpire his daughter obliged by taking over scoring.
Major C. L. Veal – came to Rudgeway in 1919 and first played for Thornbury the following year, having represented the Army, Middlesex and Glamorgan – then only a minor county – before the First World War, and enjoyed a most successful season, establishing himself as a splendid match winning batsman and an excellent sportsman. He was elected to the Committee in place of Col. C. R. Turner and immediately placed his experience and help at the Club’s disposal, taking a very live interest, even after he devoted his energies to the Gloucestershire Gypsies Cricket Club which he founded and became Secretary in 1922. His highest score was 132 v Clifton at the ‘Ship’ in 1920 when he and Edgar Grace put on 246 for the first wicket, and in 1921 he scored a brilliant 108 to win an Inter-Hunt match, also at ‘The Ship’.
H. E. G. Wells – Hugh joined the rival form of solicitors, Messrs Crossman & Co in Castle Street, who had also provided the Club with such good players as H. Lloyd, H. D. Canning and J.G. Wicks, to mention only a few, and several of the Clerks of both firms played good cricket for Thornbury. As a wicket-keeper Hugh was very useful, and it is remarkable that he never got his feet injured seeing that he always wore tennis shoes! He served the Club as Secretary in 1948 and 1949.
J. G. Wicks – came to Thornbury as a solicitor with Crossman, Lloyd, and Gwynne in 1909 and played for the Castle Club. After the World War I he continued to play for the amalgamated T. C. C., keeping wicket very well and being a great help to the Club as Treasurer from 1931 to 1937 when he raised the number of subscribers past the 200 mark. In 1931 he presented the Club with a flag, which Mrs Wicks unfurled during the game with the Optimists, for which Jack Hodges made the flag-staff.
Francis Williams – nicknamed ‘Ranji’, being well known for his leg-glide, Francis was a very useful bat who first played for Thornbury in 1898. He was a very happy cricketer, who was extremely popular wherever he played and was greatly mourned when he joined up and lost his life in the First World War.
H.R. Wilmot – Bert Wilmot was a keen good batsman who played for Thornbury for a few seasons after 1919 till he married Mervyn Grace’s widow and left Alveston for Weston Super Mare, where he pursued his hobby as an artist and wood carver. A good fielder he had an unfortunate accident, breaking his arm when he collided with the small roller in making a great catch on the boundary near ‘The Ship’ wall.