Playing Cricket at Montesole Playing Fields
106 Not Out
In their series "Notable London Clubs" an Observer article in
1932 begins "The Pinner CC claims to have existed from time immemorial, or at least
as long as cricket has been played..........The earliest existing record is of a match
played in August 1790, at Pynor Greene, against Rickmansworth CC" our opponents
today. If the "record" existed in 1932, and the article quotes the names of two
Pinner players who "took part in the match", no-one has been able to track it
down. It seems quite likely that challenge matches were played from time to time but
regular fixtures probably came sometime later.
We know that the Barrow Point Club was formed in 1878 (changed to Pinner in 1890) but
the Harrow Gazette (now the Harrow Observer) has details of earlier Pinner games. After
1878 the record is continuous although full details of officials, fixtures and
performances are sparse especially in the early years.
A major crisis arose in 1892 when the Club was forced, for some reason, to leave Barrow
Point at fairly short notice. Fortunately they were able to rent a ground at Pinner Green
from Mr Helsham Jones JP and in spite of two World Wars and other conflicts we are still
In the mid-thirties the land was put up for sale but the price seems to have been
beyond the members' means. Fortunately the Hendon District Council stepped in to preserve
it as an open space. It was named after Mr E B Montesole JP
in recognition of his services; he was President of the Club from 1936 until 1940.
The move to Pinner Green was not without its difficulties. At the end of the first
season the gazette reported that 'The Club has not, from a cricketing point of view, been
so successful as in former years owing to their newly made ground not being in very good
order, the dry season having been against it'. Even three years later we read that 'the
play was not of a first class order' one possible reason being that 'the pitch is in such
a condition that play, in the proper sense of the word is impossible.... . However,
through some mysterious alchemy not unknown today, the pitch seems to have favoured one
side; witness a game when Pinner made 17 and the opposition 170 for 5.
Minutes of Committee Meetings from 1945 present a picture of other problems the Club
had to tackle. As well as replacing the burned-down pavilion the fixture list had to be
built up again, finances put on a firm basis and, in an era of rationing, players teas
were not the least of the difficulties. For the early games changing accommodation was
provided by courtesy of the landlord of the Bell whilst a search was made for a
second-hand hut (a licence to build a non-essential structure like a cricket pavilion was
out of the question!). In 1946 a Nissen hut was purchased and brought from Harlow in
Essex. The minutes refer to an expenditure on the temporary Pavilion of £129-6-4 although
it is not clear if this was for the shell alone. A few years later an architect member of
the Club drew up plans for a new Pavilion and although a licence was not received until
March 1951 the building was in use before the end of that season. When funds permitted,
improvements were made (hot showers did not appear until 1 965) and in 1969 an extension
was built for a tea-room and storage. This also produced a problem as it was declared
unsafe and needed strengthening before it could be fully used.
Close shave, nearly bowled out when on 89!
Following the rejection in 1982 at an Extraordinary General Meeting of a proposal to
amalgamate with Old Lyonians CC, plans were drawn up for a completely new layout and
re-furbishing of the Pavilion. With the aid of a grant from the Sports Council, a loan
from the Harrow Corporation and donations from members all was ready for sesquicentennial
celebrations in 1985. Perhaps the greatest improvements were the new kitchen and the
increase in the lounge area which gave playing room for what is now a flourishing Table
For many visitors the most striking aspect of Montesole is the large sightscreen
(especially when they try to move it). It is about thirty feet high to allow for the fall
in level and it was built at the London Graving Dock. It has survived remarkably well the
assault and battery of wind and weather (and humans too).
In this story of Montesole nothing has been said of the 'soundless-clapping hosts'
ranging from Test cricketers and stage stars to the 'ordinary' club members from whom the
ground has been a back-drop, but it would be fitting to end with a name of one who
embodied all the elements which make cricket unique. His membership of Pinner covered
two-thirds of the time-span we are celebrating; he was a fine all-round player; he was one
of those who kept the club in being during the 1939/1945 War taking on the job of
secretary in January 1945; he was Club Captain in 1958 and a Vice-President. His 50'"
season was marked by a special match in 1969 and whilst this was not long long before the
end of his playing days he remained a constant watcher and stern critic up to his death in
1986. He was of course Bert Campbell.
What will the next hundred years bring ?