Percy Pearce

PERCY PEARCE (familiarly known as Peter), who from 1874 to 1898 was Ground Superintendent at Lord's, died suddenly at Hither Green, on Tuesday, August 22nd, 1911. He was born on September 2nd, 1843, at Shipley, Sussex. For some time he was gaining experience in the making and upkeep of lawns under the direction of Mr. Sydney Ford, of Leonardslee Sussex. The first cricket ground of which he had charge was the present County Ground at Brighton. On November 9th, 1874, Pearce was appointed to Lord's, being the successful applicant out of over 400 candidates. About this period the condition of Lord's must have been very bad. The Saturday Review in its report of the University of 1873 said:-- We must add in conclusion that very little can be said in favour of the wickets provided for this match. There has not been a single good wicket at Lord's as yet this season. ... It is almost an insult to common sense to suppose that a Club with an income of ten thousand a year cannot find the means of covering half-a-dozen acres with turf adapted to the game of cricket. ... There are other clubs in London whose committees can provide wickets for any number of great matches, on which cricketers may play without any fear of their teeth being knocked down their throats, or their arms being disabled. Pearce went to Lord's in the winter of 1874, and a new order of things soon came to pass. The Field reporting the Gentlemen v. Players match of 1876, said:-- There is a certain amount of novelty attached to the idea of a cricket ground being 'too good' for the purpose of a great match, yet such an idea is entertained by the Marylebone Club, and Pearce has orders not to improve it further. ... Better wickets than those of Monday were not needed, and to their condition the heavy scoring may in a large degree be attributed. The Standard of June 27th, 1876, speaking of the University game said:-- Time was when a good Wicket at Lord's was the exception, but now, happily--thanks to Pearce, the groundsman--the playing portion of the arena is in faultless condition, and a batsman can concentrate his energies on the defence of his 'timber' without, as formerly, having any misgiving as to his personal safety. Pearce's death was due to syncope, and the funeral took place on August 26th, 1911, at Ladywell Cemetery. He left a widow, three sons, and a daughter. His eldest son, a promising cricketer who had played for the Sussex Colts, and had wonderful records in India, was killed in the South African war.

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