Women’s cricket in the Chesham area

Women’s cricket has a long history in the Chesham area. The first recorded game in Chesham was in 1890. This is the story…

History of women’s cricket

The first recorded women’s cricket match was in 1745, and the first inter-county match in 1811.  By the 1880s, women’s cricket was played at girls’ schools like Harrow and Pinner and at women’s colleges like Royal Holloway.  The players were called lady cricketers, or sometimes cricketeresses, and later women cricketers. 

Women’s cricket in Bucks

In many villages it was the custom at festivities, for locals to play cricket with teams of those who were single playing those who were married.  This was usually played by men, but in some villages also by women, or sometimes the ladies would play the gentlemen.  The first recorded reference for Bucks was in August 1867 at Akeley near Buckingham, when the married women beat the single women.  On this occasion each side was assisted by two male bowlers, who were dressed in female clothes. 

Professional women’s cricket

The Original English Lady Cricketers poster showing two women playing cricket
A photo of the original ladies team

The first female cricket professionals were called the Original English Lady Cricketers (OELC), formed in 1889. They advertised for young single women “of good address and appearance, respectable, strong, active, not under 5ft. 6in. in height or over twenty-two years of age.” 

Players were divided into teams called the Reds and the Blues. They were trained in Surrey, by two professional male cricketers.  They toured and played exhibition games throughout Britain between summer 1890 and summer 1892.

Lady cricketers in Chesham 1890

Chesham Cricket Club booked the Lady Cricketers to come and play at their ground in Chesham on Thursday September 11, 1890.  Admission on the day was a shilling at the gate.

An arrangement was made with the Metropolitan Railway Company who laid on extra trains and sold special return fares, which included admission. 

Advertisement for the Lady Cricketers to play on Chesham Club Ground on Thursday 11 September 1890. Reds vs Blues
Advertising bills with details of the match, were posted around Chesham, and at railway stations along the Metropolitan Line. 

When the Thursday came the weather was fine.  The Lady Cricketers arrived by train from London at 12:40 and were met at Chesham station by the Chesham Brass Band, and a huge welcoming crowd.

The High Street was alive with people, anxious to catch sight of the cricketers as they passed, and spectators thronged the Market Square. 

By 1:30 pm about a 1,000 people had entered the ground, which grew to about 2,000 spectators. The Chesham Band played when at the start and end. Tea was provided by Mr. W. Ivory, of the Cosy Nook Coffee Tavern.

The match started at 2pm when the teams came on for a burst of applause, which the girls acknowledged by doffing their capes.  The ladies were dressed in loose sailor bodices of white flannel, cut low at the throat, and skirts reaching a little below the knee, black stockings, and white canvas shoes. The teams were distinguished by the red or blue sash tied round the waist.

The Reds won the toss, and elected to defend the wickets but were all out for 36.  The most runs for the Reds were scored by Miss Violet Westbrook, who was run out for 10.  The Blues won and were all out for 62, with the most runs scored by Miss G. Westbrook, who was bowled out by her sister Miss Violet Westbrook from the other team.

Early women’s cricket in the Chesham area

In June 1897 ladies played the gentlemen at cricket at Lee Clump Farm in Lee Common, to mark Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.  This was repeated in 1911 to mark the Coronation of George V. A ladies’ cricket teams was formed at Chartridge by Miss Helen Franklin, called Chartridge Girls’ Eleven, in 1909. A team was formed at the Lee by Miss Stewart in 1910.  

In July 1919 a ladies’ cricket match was played at Chesham Bois as part of the peace celebrations.  The game was a traditional married women against single women game, captained by Mrs Shirley and Miss Minnie Hearn.

On Whitmonday 1921 there was a ladies versus gentlemen cricket match held at Amersham-on-the-Hill when the ladies won 35-29, although the men had to play left-handed.  

Women’s cricket in Chesham in the 1920s

A photo of St George's Ladies Cricket Team - 6 women seated with 7 women stood behind them; 2 with cricket bats and a 3rd holding a dog

A number of women’s cricket games were recorded in the 1920s.  Miss Bessie Bangay, who was a Bishop’s Messenger running St George’s Church at Tylers Hill near Chesham formed a St George’s Ladies’ Cricket Club (StGCC) in 1923

On June 24, 1927 a ladies cricket game was played between Beechwood Ladies and the Girl Guides at Codmore Cross (now Botley Rec).

In August 1928 a women’s cricket game was recorded in Chesham between Zion Baptist church of Chesham and Oakridge Baptist church from High Wycombe.  On Saturday July 13, 1929 there was a Gents v Ladies Cricket march at Ley Hill, which was won 138-108 by the Gents. 

Buckinghamshire Women’s Cricket Association

The English Women’s Cricket Association was formed in 1926 with 22 clubs, 6 colleges and 38 girls’ schools, including Wycombe Abbey. Soon a Buckinghamshire Women’s Cricket Association (BWCA) was formed.

Some Women’s Institutes (WIs) also formed their own cricket teams.  In 1955 Mrs E Mile from Whelpley Hill WI recalled that at one time they had a cricket team playing other WIs “until they broke one member’s false teeth and laid another out cold, after that is become rather difficult to fix up matches.” 

Amersham ladies’ cricket teams was formed in 1932, the Chiltern Women’s Cricket Club in 1946, and in 1948, Miss Janet Darvell of Broad Street, Chesham advertised to form a Chesham Ladies Cricket Team. 

Chesham six-a-side ladies shield 1976-1981

From 1976 to 1981 Chesham Cricket Club organised an annual six-a-side competition with a Ladies’ Shield. 

In 1976, Chesham Cricket Club organised a six-a-side tournament with four local women’s cricket teams from SPD, Halex Brushes, Efficient Cleaning Services and Chesham High School. 

The final between Halex Brushes and Chesham High School was won by the High School.  The players were Karen Pascoe, June Moxon, Jackie Munday, Jane Selby and Judith Moir, led by PE teacher Jacquie Hardman. 

In 1977, there were 13 ladies’ teams entered, when Chesham High School won the Ladies’ Shield again.  In 1978, there were 11 teams, and Chesham High School won again.  In 1979 Chesham High School came second to National Westminster Bank. 

In 1980, there were 11 teams entered: Alcan, ACT, Chesham Press, Kwikstik, Waitrose, Bucks Examiner, Hivac, Industrial Adhesives, Flying Services, Efficient Cleaning and Chesham High School, and it was won by Efficient Cleaning. 

In 1981, Alcan beat Waitrose to take the trophy.  In 1982, the women’s competition was cancelled.

Women’s cricket today

Today there is once again a Chesham Women’s Cricket team, and also one at Ballinger, which play in the Home Counties Women’s Cricket League, against teams such as Berkhamsted, Abbotts Langley, Thame and St Albans.

A similar article to this was first published in the pages of the Bucks Free Press, Amersham and Chesham edition, on April 8, 2022.

About the author

Neil Rees

Neil Rees lives locally and has had a long love of local history. His main interests are family history, wartime exile groups living in Bucks, the history of local faith communities and the history of Chesham and Ley Hill. He writes a fortnightly local history Nostalgia page for the Amersham and Chesham edition of the Bucks Free Press newspaper, which is usually on page 12. He wrote "The Czech Connection" about the story of the wartime Czechoslovak community in Bucks which was translated into Czech. He also wrote "A Royal Exile" about King Zog of Albania in exile in Bucks during the war, which was translated into Albanian and made into a 2-part documentary for Albanian television. He also wrote "The Church by the Woods" the story of St George's Church at Tylers HIll and "The Chapel on the Green, the story of Ley Hill Methodist church. He gives talks at many local groups such as local history societies, WIs, church groups, Rotary Clubs etc

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