Columns / Grounds

 
June 3, 1857
10,000
No
Kent, London County
15:22, Thu Jun 22, 2017 (UTC +0100)
Crystal Palace Park
 

Notes

The Crystal Palace ground in Sydenham was opened in 1857 as part of the massive development surrounding the Crystal Palace itself, opened three years earlier. An eight-acre playing field was laid out with a pitch reputed to be one of the best in the country. The venue was the home to Crystal Palace CC and active promotion by the site's owners meant that in July 1864 Kent played the first county match there against Nottinghamshire. It was a success off the pitch, but a poor surface contributed to Kent losing. After a five-year gap Kent played two more matches in 1869 and another in 1870, but there were poorly attended and the county decided agianst further games.

Crystal Palace continued playing there with a strong fixture list and an equally good playing membership, and the Australian tourists also visited for odds matches. In 1899 the owners, the Crystal Palace Company, formed the London County Cricket Club. After a year of sharing, Crystal Palace CC was wound up and subsumed into the LCCC.

The recruitment of WG Grace to run the club saw Crystal Palace become an attraction for many of the leading players of the day, and in 1900 the LCCC was accorded first-class status, further enhancing the appeal to players and spectators.

A new pavilion was built in 1900 and the tree-lined, six-sided ground hosted some major matches over the next six years, as well as many club matches. But the venture was not financially successful and Grace was well into his fifties. In 1908 the gates of the club were locked and the LCCC ceased to be.

The cricket field was left, briefly turned into tennis courts in 1921, and then used for football. In 1960 the old pavilion was demolished and replaced with a functional but unattractive structure. But in 1991-92 the square was relaid and cricket is again played at Crystal Palace.

Martin WIlliamson

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W G Grace finishes a practice session at London County's Crystal Palace ground, 1902
W G Grace finishes a practice session at London County's Crystal Palace ground
© Wisden
CJ Posthuma and WG Grace at Crystal Palace, 12 August 1901
CJ Posthuma and WG Grace
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