Chapter 1 - Origins
Chapter 1 - Origins
A project for a private school in Sheffield with a high standard of education was started in 1835 and the foundation stone of the school building was laid in that year by the Earl of Wharncliffe. The Prospectus of December, 1836, is headed "Terms of the Sheffield Collegiate School" and is worth reading for itself as a fine example of the high-minded ideals of the period. Cricket is not mentioned, but there are splendid passages on 'amusements':-
- "Amongst the various causes which combine to form and fix the future character, some of the most powerful, and which are frequently found to produce the most permanent effects, are the amusements and pleasurable pursuits in which the young are permitted to spend their vacant hours. The lessons of education may be inculcated in the school; but the real character will be formed by the occupations and companionship to which boys are introduced out of school.
- Amusements may be harmless in themselves; but if excessive or unseasonable, they will seriously interfere with the pursuit of useful learning, and be likely to dissipate the mind, and hinder its improvement.
- But should such amusements be either vulgar in their own nature, or expose the attendants upon them to vulgar society and scenes, such diversions can scarcely fail to have a debasing influence upon the taste, and a most unfavourable bearing upon the future choice of pursuits and pleasures."
As an old print shows cricket being played in the school grounds, presumably it was considered a 'harmless amusement'. The Tuition fees were £90 per year for those of 13 years and upwards: for Board and Lodging. exclusive of washing, the fees were £25 per year.
In August, 1836, the school received its first pupils. There were only two, one of which was J. A. Wilson, uncle of R. T. Wilson, who was President of Collegiate for 43 years, and great-uncle of D. C. Wilson. The school prospered after a few years and continued as a very successful school, with a large number of most distinguished old-boys, until it was amalgamated in 1885 with the Grammar School, which in its turn later amalgamated with Wesley College to form King Edward VII School.
In the Prospectus the school is described as "situate in a most beautiful and salubrious part of the country, on the south-westerly side of, and about half a mile from, Sheffield". The school premises comprised a Boarding House and a School Building. The former was on Ecclesall Road, with the School Building set further back behind it, and these buildings, or parts of them, are still in existence and now form part of the 'Collegiate Site', itself a part of Sheffield City Polytechnic. The cricket ground was between the Boarding House and the School Building.
Just before Collegiate's fiftieth anniversary dinner in 1931 H. B. Willey who was a founder member, wrote to various of his contemporaries to try and get their recollections of how the club was started. From his notes, and the letters which he received, it would appear that a meeting of old-boys was called in 1881 by C. D. Leng and R. J. Nicholson, with Dr. Harry Lockwood as Secretary, and held in Big School in the School Building. Some 12 to 18 attended the meeting, including W. Leng, W. F. Rodgers, H. B. Willey, J. C. Walker, C. K. Baker, A. Foster, J. H. Marsdin, F. T. Bradbury, T. G. Sorby and C. Howarth.
The purpose of the meeting was to try and get more and better cricket and football for the old-boys. J. H. Marsdin, who died in 1956, aged 93, recalled that "it was agreed that six or seven old-boys should play for the Club and the rest to be made up with present school boys. This would apply to cricket and football. The old-boys to have use of the ground after 6 p.m. for practice and pay subs of 5/- each for cricket and football".
There is little detailed information available about cricket at the school before 1881, because, though there had been a school paper, 'The Collegiate Magazine', published in the early years, this was only a literary paper and had lapsed for a long time when a new magazine, 'The Collegian', was started in 1881.
According to 'The Collegian', football matches were played in 1880/81 under the names of' Collegiate Club' and 'Collegiate School'. The 'Club' sides were mixed boys and old-boys: the 'School' just boys and one or two masters. For cricket in 1881 only' Collegiate School's mentioned, but from scores it is clear that some sides were boys and masters, while most were combined boys and old-boys. 'Collegiate Club' continued as a name for some of the football sides in 1881/82 and 1882/83, but for 1883/84 there was a re-arrangement of fixtures, as is recorded in the Captain of Football's comments on the season:-
"A great change has been made in the football arrangements this season. In former seasons three-quarters of the matches arranged to be played by the Collegiate School team (so-called) were with clubs too strong for them and consequently the School Captain usually asked six or seven old boys and filled up the rest of the team out of the School. Thus as the School team proper only played four or five matches they did not get to play together sufficiently. Also the Captain used to have great trouble some times in getting some of those six or seven old boys who after all never paid subscriptions and considered it their right to grumble at the state of the ground or the ball.
Now this is changed and the Collegiate Club is entirely separate from the Collegiate School Club, having a separate Captain and, next season we hope, a separate Secretary. The Collegiate Club plays the teams too strong for the School and the School plays teams more nearly a match for it."
The cricket scores of 1882 only refer to 'Collegiate', but one master, Mr. Ironmonger, batted with success and the side included several old-boys in most matches. The same policy seems to have been followed in 1883. In 1884 there was a definite change, in the same way as the football had changed, as only one match was played under the name of' Collegiate Club', this being a combined boys and old-boys side against 'The Clergy'. The 'Collegiate School' sides all comprised boys at the school with, as was customary in those days, the occasional master. The old-boys played all their matches under the title of 'Old Collegians'. The Captain of the School Cricket XI in 1884, in his review of the year, wrote: "We have played present boys in every match but one and the all-round play has greatly improved". The old-boys too must have gained, because apparently they had previously had more people wanting to play than could be accommodated in the 'Collegiate Club' sides.
Following the school amalgamation in 1885, the 'Old Collegians', for the summer of 1885, took the name 'Sheffield Collegiate Cricket Club'. At least this is the name on the outside of the Member's Card, though the Fixture List inside is headed just 'Collegiate Cricket Club'. After 1897 only 'Collegiate C.C.' was used up to 1914, but, on the restart after the war, the name was 'Sheffield Collegiate C.C.' and so it has remained.
Though these years seem rather confused, it is clear that the first members of Collegiate had no doubts that the Club originated in 1881.
Another result of the closure of the school was that soon there was a shortage of old-boys and, therefore, gradually more and more non old-boys were asked to play for the club, the first probably being F. H. Colley. This process naturally increased as the years went by.
The last survivor of the Collegiate School sides was Doctor Edward Bramley, who reached his one hundredth birthday on 29th December, 1967, and died in 1968. The reports on him by the various school cricket captains make interesting reading to anyone who knew this remarkable man.
- 1882 "Has been a very useful bat this season. Though he has never made any runs, he has generally helped to break the bowling. Excellent long stop." (It is worthy of note that his batting figures were Innings-3; not outs-1; highest score-2; total runs-3.)
- 1883 "Pretty bat: cuts well, but some times uncertain in matches. Fair bowler and splendid field. Most reliable long stop."
- 1884 "Bats in nice style with excellent defence, and has kept wicket splendidly throughout the season."
In a letter to D. C. Wilson one week before his hundredth birthday Dr. Bramley wrote: "Batting and bowling are the high arts, and I was good at neighthour (sic), but rarely did a ball pass me at longstop!"