Cricket lovely Cricket
by Ron Lewin, assisted by Brian Tranter
In 1950, nearing the end of my time at secondary school I, along with John Peachey and Geoffrey Seaman, helped Mr Bowen, our Form Master, to build his new house next door to Mr Liddiard’s property. Mr Liddiard was the first Director of the Fulmer Research Institute, a new laboratory started at Stoke Poges in1947.
Over a chat on the building site Mr Liddiard invited us to visit his new laboratory in an old country house nearby.
When Fulmer first started the laboratories were opened on Saturday mornings. We duly arrived all wide eyed and wonderous, since this was the first time that we had visited a science laboratory.
As we left, he mentioned that the Laboratory was currently advertising for laboratory technicians and if we were interested, to contact him.
In a throwaway line Mr Liddiard said, should we decide to come for an interview his colleagues may well ask you ‘what sports you play? ‘
All three of us were offered jobs. I was very fortunate to work for Dr Gross and Colin Hayman in Physical Chemistry. I had no idea what I would be doing as a laboratory assistant but the enticement of a white Lab coat was all too much.
Cricket at Fulmer
It transpired that the job interviewers were all mad keen on Cricket, and we were potential players for the cricket team. Colin Hayman from Physical Chemistry was our fast bowler and so my job oscillated between playing cricket, relaxing on the boundary and studying chemistry.
The story below is generated by the pictures of cricket matches that have come into FRHG possession extending our knowledge of Cricket at Fulmer.
In the beginning…
Cricket it seems was part of life at the FRI from the early days. A scrapbook includes a picture taken at the opening of the Fulmer Research Institute Cricket Ground on May 17th 1952.
The exact location for this picture is unknown. In later years Fulmer had a cricket pitch on the Stoke Poges site but the buildings in the background of this picture do not match up with any of the Fulmer buildings in 1952, so perhaps it was one of the other sites that were part of Almin in the Slough area.
The picture shows a relaxed Col. Devereux sitting on a chair, dressed in his gentleman farmer’s suit. He is wearing a trilby hat, a bow tie and a pair of black leather shoes with a hole in the sole.
The six people are enjoying having a joke with Col. Devereux
From the left is Les Green, Gordon Metcalfe, Morgan Davies, Col. Devereux, and Tom Heal. One disinterested person is lying on the grass but his wristwatch is not sufficient to identify him.
In the bottom left-hand corner of the picture is the lid of the large wooden box that housed all the equipment.
Home and Away
A large sloping field beyond the laboratories was converted into a pitch by removing the soil until horizontal and then grassing the pitch area.
A motor mower was purchased to mow the outfield and a hand mower and roller to produce a good quality pitch.
Denny Ashby, who was the captain and site electrician, ran the show which included mowing the grass.
Some chairs were brought out from the canteen for the scorer and spectators. During the interval the lady spectators served tea, cake and sandwiches, the highlight of the afternoon.
All of the cricket paraphernalia, pads, bats and balls was stored in a large Jacques wooden Cricket Box. For away games we used the Fulmer company estate car to carry all the equipment.
Cup winners in 1958
Thanks to the Stoke Poges Society we have a picture of the 1958 team including most of the names.
The picture was taken after a game at one of Col. Devereux’s companies at Warwick/Redbridge and shows the team with the Captain Denny Ashby holding the Winner’s Cup.
On the back of the identical picture in GIW’s handwriting are the names of the players and my wife Elaine who was the scorer with Willy Warr as deputy scorer. GIW also wrote the date 1958. Sadly, we do not have the Score Book;.
The 1960 team included Ben Hatt, John West, Willie Warr, GI Williams, Denny Ashby, John Wardill, Pete Stevens, and Alan Phillips (son of the gardener) seen in what is a puzzling picture.
I wonder why was the picture taken? It was quite a formal occasion but they were not about to play cricket. Some were even wearing collars and ties and others wearing white shirts which was the standard dress code for cricket.
The picture was clearly taken by a professional cameraman, with arms folded for the front row, players sitting on carefully arranged seats with those standing at the back with their hands by their sides. They were not looking at all relaxed.
This must be a Wilf Collis photograph using his Thornton Pickard camera.
From the 1960’s to the 1970’s
Cricket continued into the 70’s although the initial enthusiasm had waned in the late 60s and the Fulmer cricket pitch was no longer usable, having been reclaimed by nature and degenerated into a field of long grass. A cricket match was only an occasional event played away from “home”.
The team was photographed around 1976 when they played against another company or laboratory believed to be Martin Baker where Richard Figg (father of Susan Figg) one of the umpires worked. The ground is probably Stoke Poges Cricket Club.
From the left is an umpire, then Colin Hayman, George Cox, Denny Ashby, Duncan Stewart, Pete Stevens, Tony Bowry, Chris Tangri, Jack Sorby, Graham Sanderson, John Jenner, WE Duckworth and the second umpire, Richard Figg,
Tony Bowry and Denny Ashby are the opening batsman.
By the end of the 70’s Fulmer no longer had a cricket team of its own, and colleagues wanting to play joined the local Farnham Royal team.
Names of all cricket players
I have gathered the names of about 20 past cricket players.
Arthur Sully, Tom Heal, Gordon Metcalfe, Eddie Sugars, Colin Hayman, Ron Lewin, Walter Gutteridge , Duncan Stewart, Tony Bowry, Willy Warr, Nic Nicholas, Peter Burden, David Philipps, Morgan Davies, Ben Hatt, Bev Shaw, Mike Gilham, John Roberts, GI Williams, Tony Welham, Denny Ashby, Chris Symonds, Eric Duckworth, Graham Saunders, George Cox, Jack Sorby..
The Fulmer Phoenix Cricket Club
We have relatively little information about Fulmer Cricket Team and will always be pleased to add other photos and stories.
Several of the Club members are no longer with us but we can do our best to contact any members we know. They may like to share happy memories and send stories to Cricket Lovely Cricket. For example, Gordon Metcalfe could tell you about the fast bowler who somehow removed his stumps; Gordon was able to discuss this distressing story for several minutes.
What we wonder happened to the Score Book, that would tell us so much abut the games we played.
We are fortunate that our Newsletter Editor, is an enthusiastic Cricket Player. in the future people offering articles to Cricket Lovely Cricket will be able to provide Andy Pye with a good source of material to write or receive articles and photos on Cricket at Fulmer.
You will be pleased to know I chose this original name for the Club about a month ago
A likely Story on which to end.
Not everyone is enthusiastic about cricket.
For example, my boss, Dr Gross who was from Vienna, never mentioned cricket and yet had some of our most accomplished players working in his Physical Chemistry Department.
A perfunctory view of his notebooks showed them to be filled with mathematical calculations. He always acknowledged that he had little practical ability and his staff had high levels of skills, making equipment and experimenting. We had a good relationship; he taught me the fundamentals of Thermodynamics and in return I drove him home or to the Chemist in my Mini, since he did not drive.
Most aliens incarcerated on the Isle of Man at the beginning of the War were genuine people who were ultimately allowed to return to their jobs. In due course Dr Gross was released and spent the rest of the War working on Secret Government projects.
I cannot confirm the veracity of the rest of this story but I think it is worth a creative guess.
Before releasing these aliens, many of whom were of German or Austrian extraction, they were sent on a course to improve their English and absorb the essential shibboleths of the British people.
Dr Gross, while waiting to be released, was given the important task to instruct aliens into the British way of life. Clearly, to know the Rules of Cricket was essential.
Speaking both German and English, he was sent to see games of professional cricket, armed with a copy of The Wisden Almanac, a copy of The Rules of Cricket and of course wearing a yellow and red striped tie worn by members of one of our most prestigious Cricket Clubs.
The resulting document is now used worldwide as the precise and clear definitive statement of the Essential Rules of Cricket.
Essential Rules of Cricket
You have two sides, one out in the field and one in
Each man that’s in the side that’s in goes out and when he’s out
he comes in and the next man goes in until he is out.
When they are all out the side that’s out comes in and the side
that’s been in goes out and tries to get those coming in out.
Sometimes you get men still in and not out
When both sides have been in and out including the not outs
That’s the end of the game.
Some people are slightly confused by this masterpiece of English writing and it occurred to me that the rules of cricket could it be reworked using Boolean Algebra.
Can we invite those of you who are mathematically blessed to provide the cricketers with some help?
Acknowledgements: Thank you to Liz and Brian for their encouragement and help
FRHG ref: V879