MCC Archivist Rob Curphey delves into the archives to explore why 2018 is a year full of anniversaries at Lord's and in cricket.
With 2018 upon us, not many will be aware of certain anniversaries at the Home of Cricket or in the sport in general.
For example, this year, the Tavern Stand at Lord's turns 50.
The Stand was built on the site of the old Tavern, and was designed by the architect Kenneth Peacock, who had previously designed the Warner Stand 10 years before.
The decision to call the new stand ‘The Tavern Stand’ was taken by the MCC Committee in May 1968. The stand replaced the site of the previous Lord’s Hotel and Member’s Luncheon Rooms. The new Tavern, in its present position on St. John’s Wood Road past the Grace Gates, was opened on 13 June 1967, where S C Griffith pulled the first pint, as he had drawn the last in the old Tavern the previous autumn.
A more recent anniversary is that of the present Grand Stand, which celebrates its 20th birthday this year.
The current Grand Stand is the third to have been built at Lord’s; the first, in 1867, was the brainchild of the then Secretary, R A Fitzgerald, who in an attempt to make Lord’s a more attractive ground for spectators to enjoy, established the 'Lord's Grand Stand Company' - made up of figures including himself and the MCC Trustees - to achieve the aim of building a stand.
The Grand Stand was erected in 1867 at a cost of £1,435. The second Grand Stand was built in its place in 1926, adding a further 3,300 seats at a cost of £36,591.
The stand was built by Trollope and Colls Limited, while the architect for the second Grand Stand was Herbert Baker, who at the end of the project gifted to the Club the famous ‘Father Time’ weathervane which adorned the top of the stand for 70 years – possibly as a result of the project not being completed on time; it was not a gift the Club were expecting to receive.
However, when the decision was made to build a new Grand Stand, Father Time was moved to the opposite end of the Ground and it now sits on top of the Scorer’s Box.
The decision to build a new Grand Stand was approved by the MCC Committee in July 1996, with work commencing at the end of the season. The architect for the project was Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners.
The Grand Stand was used in the 1997 season but only the lower tier was functional and a scoreboard was temporarily housed just above the centre of the lower tier, but by the following year the Grand Stand was fully operational and as you see it today, with a capacity of over 6,000 seats. It was officially opened by His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh in 1998.
Another significant anniversary – and one which will be celebrated as part of the Tours exhibition in the MCC Museum this year – is the 150th anniversary of the Australian Aboriginal side, the first time that an Australian team had ever toured Great Britain.
The Aboriginal side arrived in England in May 1868 and were managed by Charles Lawrence, who had been a former professional cricketer with Surrey.
Following a meeting of the MCC Committee in May 1868, it was agreed that the Committee write to the Aboriginals to offer them a match against MCC at Lord’s. This was accepted and the match was played on 12th and 13th of June, with the hosts winning by 55 runs, despite exceptional performances from Cuzens who took 10 wickets in MCC’s second innings and Mullagh who top scored in the match with 75, also taking 8 wickets during the match.
Visitors to the MCC Museum this season will be able to view lots more artefacts relating to the first Australian tour, as part of an exhibition on cricket tours, which will also include sections on women’s cricket, the first MCC tour in 1903-1904, wandering clubs and plenty of luggage cases!