1864 is established to not only provide support for those following Hampshire Cricket, but also to cricket throughout the county too, and as the local cricket season gets underway, we are focusing today on the grass roots of the game. We are fortunate to have the Ageas Bowl, a sporting arena offering world class facilities and often described by cricket commentators as one of the best grounds anywhere in the world for watching international cricket. But, it is not just our main stadium that provides such stunning backdrops to the game. With villages ranging from those overlooking the sea, to those shrouded by the New Forest, we are truly blessed with some of the most outstanding and picturesque local cricket grounds in the country, if not globally. Some of these grounds may not see the action that they once did, but in the best sense of preservation and heritage, Bob Elliot – a familiar sight to those who watch Hampshire Cricket – has produced two books capturing the many pavilions of the county in two books, Changing Rooms 1 & Changing Rooms 2.
Bob’s latest book, Changing Rooms 2 was released in March 2017 and was written and photographed entirely by Bob. This hard cover publication begins with a foreword by Hampshire’s Tim Tremlett and covers a total of 369 pavilions in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight in three parts; . 1. All those in the Hampshire League at the end of 2016 (IofW teams in Part 3) 2. The other Mainland grounds 3. The Isle of Wight Part 2 also contains some pavilions and grounds that no longer exist as well as the many that only play Friendly cricket, so would be a great help for Fixture Secretaries seeking new ideas for Sunday cricket. 1864 took the opportunity to ask Bob more about both books.
What gave you the idea in the first place? It grew from a photograph of the Northlands Road pavilion in 1998, to starting a collection of grounds I visited with IBM, then attempting to do all the Hampshire League grounds, and then trying to do the lot! What are your own memories of these wonderful grounds across the county? Well, of course, I played at many of them, but this exercise made me realise there were many grounds, and villages, I had never heard of! Do you have a personal favourite, and if so, what makes it stand out for you? My personal favourite has to be Longstock. It is a beautiful village. I had never been there before I was told the pavilion still existed even though cricket ceased many years ago, and the current resident, a bull and his friends seemed determined to prevent me from entering his domain , I managed to sneak in on my third visit before he saw me off the premises. You must have picked up some amazing stories across the county as you put the the books together? Is there any one which sticks in your mind? Yes, the pavilion at Aldershot's Buller Barracks stands out. I was looking for the Wavell ground and couldn't find it, so I asked a Gurkha who was on duty at one of the Army establishments along the road. He told me of a ground locked away behind the fence, with the scoreboard with numbers on it! I found it on my fourth trip to Aldershot from my home in Chandlers Ford. One of the core aspects of these grounds has to be the tradition of the cricket tea; sandwiches piled high, home made cakes and urns of tea all ready to serve as the players troop off between innings. Which ground, in your opinion, produced the best matchday tea? I never played there but Wield has a huge reputation. Margaret Salter wrote a book about cricket teas which I bought when I visited her after photographing the pavilion and stopping in the adjacent pub! Some would say that the village game is dying, if there is one thing you would do to revitalise some of these remarkable settings, what would it be? I don't know the answer to that. All I can say is that I have spent my life playing and visiting these grounds and villages and have enjoyed every minute and have met some amazing people. I hope my book reflects some of that, and encourages people to get involved in our wonderful game, either by playing or helping out in some way. A visit to your local ground and a drink in the Clubhouse would be a good way to start!
Changing Rooms 2 by Bob Elliott
369 Cricket Pavilions of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. Includes those outside of Hampshire who were in the Hampshire League in 2016.
Hard cover, colour photographs, history and interesting facts. A quality book for £20. Available from The Ageas Bowl Shop, Trophyman Sholing, Holt and Haskell Shirley, IBM Hursley CC, The Print Room in Chandlers Ford. Contact Tel: 023 80254611 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org