Monday 26 August 2019

How London housing plan led to Lord's being saved

The Old Father Time weathervane at Lord’s cricket ground (Anthony Devlin/PA)
The Old Father Time weathervane at Lord’s cricket ground (Anthony Devlin/PA)

A common misconception about Lord's is that the name has a religious, or aristocratic significance. In fact, it is named after Thomas Lord, the man who laid down and ran the ground for the Marylebone CC in north London.

His father was a wealthy Yorkshireman but, as a Catholic supporter of Bonnie Prince Charlie, his home and lands were seized after the failed Jacobite rebellion in 1745.

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Young Thomas eventually moved to London as an attendant and net-bowler at the White Conduit Club, where he was asked to find a new place for the club to play by Charles Lennox, who in 1792 played in the first cricket match recorded in Ireland.

Lord opened his first ground in 1787, which Marylebone CC also began to use. They moved twice before settling at St John's Wood in 1814 and there they have remained.

Lord struggled to make money, however, and after a while decided to develop part of the ground for housing. The MCC was horrified and so, as Neil Hannon sings in the Duckworth-Lewis Method's Gentlemen and Players, "A bored young William Ward MP / Bought Lord's from Thomas Lord / In 1825."

Ward paid £5,000 for the ground, and Lord retired to Hampshire. Nowadays it is a 30,000-capacity modern stadium known as 'the Home of Cricket' which has hosted more than 100 Tests and five World Cup finals.

Women finally take honours

Each dressing wall is adorned with three honours boards containing a list of players who have scored a century, taken five wickets in an innings, and ten wickets in a Test match dating back to Lord's first back in 1884.

It's one of the game's greatest accolades to be on those boards - legends such as Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne never made it - and players regularly mention it. Angelo Matthews of Sri Lanka celebrated his 2014 century by making a scribbling motion with his hand, signalling to the signwriter who is on duty for the five days of the Test.

This year a new board was erected to celebrate the same landmarks in one-day internationals, which meant women were included for the first-time as the ground has yet to stage a women's Test.

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