Ever since its formation in 1864, Middlesex County Cricket Club had struggled to find a permanent home.
Occasional matches had been played at Lord’s in the early years but the club seemed to prefer using the rather more rustically-named Cattle Market Ground in Islington. From 1872 most of its fixtures were played at Prince’s Club, at Hans Place in Knightsbridge, but practice facilities were poor and the ground unpopular with members and players alike. MCC had tried to attract the county to play at Lord’s twice before, in 1869 and 1874, and with the prospect growing of Prince’s ground being redeveloped Middlesex accepted a third offer in November 1876. This despite some objections to the move on the grounds of finance and Lord’s reputation as a bad ground for slow bowling. County cricket was growing in prestige, to the detriment of the Ground’s regular programme of fixtures. It was essential for Lord’s long-term survival that regular first-class cricket be played there, and just as essential to Middlesex’s survival that they had a permanent home.
It was a well-timed move. The winter of 1876-77 saw a road built across the southern part of Prince’s Ground; it was the beginning of a rapid development phase that would see the ground close in 1886. It now lies buried beneath the handsome mansion blocks south of Harrods department store. Middlesex’s long and successful residency at Lord’s began formally with a county match against Yorkshire in June 1877. Almost a century and a half later, the original reasons for this long partnership remain just as valid.