Many happy returns for Boxmoor as they celebrate 150 years of cricket

CELEBRATIONS started this week at Boxmoor Cricket Club in Hemel Hempstead to mark their 150th anniversary.

The week-long birthday bash was due to begin on Monday (May 28) with a veterans match between Boxmoor and a Herts XI, only for the bad Bank Holiday weather to force it to be postponed.

More matches, along with plenty of fine food and drink, are planned until Friday, when the club off St John's Road plays Northwood Town.

Life vice president Keith Barnett said: “We hope it will bring a lot of the old players.

“Some of them coming down are in their 90s.”

Mr Barnett added that former Boxmoor Cricket Club Captain and Hemel Hempstead Town footballer of the 1950s, Stanley Walker, was due to make an appearance at the celebrations.

He added: “For the players who have been in the club since colts level, [the anniversary] means a terrific amount.”

Boxmoor Cricket Club was founded in 1857 when Box Moor Trust gave part of its land over to the game – the pitch on Blackbirds' Moor now known as the 'Boxmoor Oval'.

By 1884 the Trust was asking for a shilling per year in rent for the land, and in 1920 it helped with the cost of improvements to the pitch.

Matches in the 1920s were played against local teams such as Abbots Langley and Kings Langley.

In the 1930s, a horse mower was bought, the first plans for a pavilion on the site of the old Star Cottages were put forward.

Matches were scheduled for the 1940 season but were at risk of changes due to mounting hostilities in the build up to the Second World War.

After the war, in 1947, the club's second team was revived and its horse mower was sold to Hemel Hempstead Town Football Club.

With the New Town in the 1950s came more players, and at the start of the 1960s, the club got the go-ahead for a new pavilion – members had been using the Steam Coach pub.

The cost of the pavilion, to feature a main room, kitchen, two dressing rooms and a store room, was estimated at 625.

In 1966 the ground was improved and a drive to recruit new young members paid off and by 1968, prospective members were required to play two trial matches.

Permission to extend and improve the pavilion was granted in 1969 and in the early 1970s, it was suggested the price of teas be raised prior to decimalisation.

Celebrations were held in 1980 when Boxmoor won the league, but the high was followed by a low in 1981, when the club's pavilion was gutted by fire.

President Len Hopkins and chairman Maurice Wigmore asked the Box Moor Trust for permission to replace the burnt-out structure with a brick building and fundraising for the plans started.

The club's first female trustee, Julia Lowe, who was a trained architect, added a veranda and dormer feature to house a clock to the pavilion's design.

The next 20 years saw the introduction of league cricket, replacing the inter-village competitions.

The match ball for each league game is now sponsored by local businesses.

For details about the anniversary celebrations, call Mr Barnett on 01442 254943 or Jim Down on 256901.