Alderley Edge Cricket Club – A Sporting and Social History, 1870 – 2020

8 Dec 2021

Much has been written about the history of Alderley Edge including its geology and archaeology, its flora and fauna.  The story of the mines and not least its social history, particularly from its early settlement by wealthy industrialists from 1842, when the Manchester and Birmingham Railway Co built a station at Chorley, as Alderley was then called, on the Manchester to Crewe line.

There is also a very detailed account of the large houses built on and around the Edge in The Villas of Alderley Edge being the excellent book by Matthew Hyde.

However, one important aspect of Alderley Life that has so far had very little revealed about itself is Alderley Edge Cricket Club – or the Alderley Edge Gentlemen’s Cricket Club as it was known for many years. Ladies had to make themselves scarce from late afternoon -not to go home to cook for their menfolk, arriving home from Manchester – but to supervise those servants whose job it was to do so.

The Club is, however, not without mention in the history books and Katherine Chorley, in her account of Alderley Edge society in the late Victorian and early Edwardian age refers to the Cricket and Tennis club being the main centre of social activity in the village.  She paints an evocative account in the life of the well to do.

“About 3 o’clock people began to saunter into the Cricket club and distribute themselves to their various activities.  Everybody knew each other and the atmosphere was agreeably like a large informal garden party.  Elderly ladies and gentlemen played croquet in dignified clothes and with serious demeanours.  The young men contorted themselves on the baseline of tennis courts trying out the new American service. The less lucky younger women wandered around swinging hopeful tennis racquets on the chance of being asked to make up a four.  A row of matrons occupied garden chairs to watch the cricket……”

So that provides a glimpse of early life at the Cricket Club, but what has never been written is a history of the Club from its founding in 1870 to date, and the people who made it. That is, however, shortly to be put right. As it approached its 150th anniversary, Ed Johnson, the then Chairman of the Club, persuaded Peter Higham, who had been Secretary for many years and happened to be acting as the unofficial club archivist collecting minute books and other memorabilia as they became available, to make a start on the job. This he did and almost two years later, work is still continuing.

A fascinating story has emerged, which as well as providing an account of the development of the Club and its four sporting sections- cricket, tennis, hockey and squash – it does itself provide a mirror reflection of the social history of Alderley Edge over the age. There is also a fifth section which has been discovered – croquet – in the early 20th century, the Club hosted the Northern Croquet Championships for five successive years.

Publication will be in early Autumn 2022 – not quite in time for the 150th anniversary, though the planned celebrations were in any event cancelled because the pandemic intervened.

Many old photographs of the Club will be included but if anyone has any further memorabilia or historical information relating to the club, for any era, but particularly pre 1960, please email [email protected]


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