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Probably one of the greatest achievements in the construction of a cricket ground is the Crabble at Dover where an eight-acre plateau has been carved out of the side of the hill and now provides one of the most beautiful of Kent's many attractive grounds. In 1896 a syndicate consisting of Messrs Hayward, Finnis, Stillwell and, no doubt the genius of the group, A. C. Leney, purchased 14 acres of the finest grazing land at the back of Dover, an area known as the Crabble Meadows which extended from the back of Bunkers Hill. The eight acres to the north of the plot was steeply sloping land and on this ground Mr Leney, whose name no doubt will never receive the recognition it deserves, decided that cricket should be played. The levelling was a very costly project; it nearly wrecked the syndi'ate financially but they did achieve their aim and Mr George Wyndham, M.P., was able to open the ground in 1897.
A cycle track encircled the grass and athletic meetings were staged but probably due to its isolated location the venture seerned doomed. In desperation, after six years, it was decided to sell the land for building development but the situation was saved by a last minute offer from Dover Corporation to purchase the ground. It was a bargain they could not have regretted and when the Crabble was signed over to the Corporation in 1902 for £5500, rather less than half the cost of building it, cricket in Dover became assured.
The high stone pavilion is backed by the hillside from which the ground was levelled and terraces cut into the slopes give a grand view of the playing area. Where the ground falls away on the opposite side great banks of trees fringe the old cycle track, trees that were saplings when A. C. Leney laid out the ground nearly seventy years ago.
July 11,1907, saw the earliest county game and the following year the cricket week was inaugurated and, with the exception of 1914, it has continued annually. 1935 was the year Ashdown carried his bat for 305 not out to record the highest individual score on the ground but for really memorable cricket it is necessary to look to August 1937, a game Godfrey Evans as a young scoreboard operator recalls vividly. Gloucester started at a cracking pace with Charlie Barnett gathering 70 out of the first 90 in 35 minutes as the visitors piled up 434. For Kent Frank Woolley made 100 in two hours and Kent mustered 399. Gloucester quickly added 182 leaving Kent to make 218 in just under two hours. Now the real onslaught started in some of the fastest scoring ever recorded.
Woolley 44 from 68 in 25 minutes. Ames 70 from the next 100 in 36 minutes then A. E. Watts smote lustily to bring victory with 51 in the last 10 minutes. No maiden overs were bowled, the run rate was 185 per hour and Evans recalls that in his excitement his scoreboard ceased to operate. What a great occasion this was and what an excellent ground on which to have witnessed it.
Playfair Cricket Monthly 1965
Kent played their last match at Dover in 1976 and the ground is now used for cricket and rugby
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