In researching the history of Thornbury we have come across snippets of information relating to various sports played in and around the town during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The clubs that were formed became a vital part of life in Thornbury as they are in most small towns. Although the clubs were dominated by tradesmen, shopkeepers and schoolmasters they did offer some opportunities to meet a wider range of people from different levels in society. They provided a chance to relax and have fun at a time when there were much fewer leisure activities than now. In some cases they also provided the opportunity for young people to meet members of the opposite sex and many relationships must have been formed whilst serving refreshments or playing in mixed teams.
Most of the sports were played mainly by men, although there were opportunities for women to participate, particularly in bowls, tennis, golf, swimming and hockey.
In some cases, we have been lucky enough to acquire quite comprehensive histories of the way the sport was organised with mention of some of the major players; in other cases we have very little knowledge and would love to know more.
Bowls – the Thornbury Indoor Bowling Club was founded in 1980 using indoor bowling facilities at the Thornbury Leisure Centre. However an earlier club, the Thornbury Bowling Club, had used an outdoor grass bowling green from around 1913 and the club continued until the mid 1950s. Click here to read more
Cricket – Thornbury has a long and very distinguished history associated with cricket.
The Thornbury Cricket Club, as we know it today, was founded in 1871, although in 1850 an earlier Thornbury Cricket Club had combined with the Thornbury Phoenix Club to form the Thornbury United Cricket Club. A separate club, the Thornbury Castle Cricket Club was formed in 1880 and continued playing until 1919 when it amalgamated with the Thornbury Cricket Club. Click here to see Thornbury Cricket Club’s own website
We were lucky to have found Les Summerfield, who for many years has been associated with the Cricket Club, both as a player and active committee member. Les is now organising the archives of the club and adding memorabilia and records donated by others. We are grateful to Les for sharing these records with us. Click here to read more
It is interesting to see that the local ladies also played the game. In 1898 here was a game played at the Thornbury Castle ground between a team captained by Miss H. Lloyd of Thornbury against a team captained by a lady from Clifton. We assume that ‘H. Lloyd’ was Helen Margaret Lloyd the daughter of Henry Hume Lloyd. Amongst the players of the Lloyd team were her sister Dorothy and ‘S’ Grace’ whom we assume was Sarah Martha Annie Grace, the daughter of Edward Mills Grace. The scores were level after the first innings, but the Lloyd team were triumphant at the end, thanks to an early declaration by their opponents.
Football – note that newspaper reports mentioning a football team in Thornbury between 1881 and 1888 do not refer to what we now know as association football or soccer. It was the game of rugby that was being played at that time, although the newspaper then called that game ‘football’.
Our earliest record of association football being played in Thornbury was a newspaper report dated 3rd March 1896. This was a match against Yate. Another report published on 5th September 1896 said that a public meeting has been held at the Church Institute with a view to forming a football club. It mentioned that a club was already in existence but that it was restricted to members of the Working Men’s Club. It was thought desirable to have a separate club in the town ‘not connected with anything’.
Officials of the new club were appointed: E. Stafford Howard as President, H. H. Lloyd as Vice President, H. P. Thurston as Chairman, the Rev M. Wade-Smith was Captain and R. Comely as Vice Captain, Hon. Secretary was E. J. Underhill and Hon. Treasurer was W. D. Canning. The Rev Wade-Sm