Howzat: some cricketing Quakers

While summer and the cricket season are still in full swing, you may enjoy some of these photographs from the records of the Falcon Touring Club, a Quaker cricket team. Dating back to 1902, the club drew its members mainly from those who had attended Quaker schools.

The founders were three young Friends from York – Stephen Priestman, Thomas Twyman and I. Gray Wallis. It occurred to them that a week’s cricket tour would make an enjoyable holiday. Little could they have known that the team would continue to tour until the 1990s, with a special centenary reunion in 2002.

Falcons 1908 - Arrival at Ledbury-editThe records of the Falcons here in the Library include seven albums of photographs and some press cuttings, covering the period between 1907 and 1932, and seven score books covering the period between 1935 and 1983, with a few gaps.

Falcons 1908 - editIt’s also possible to glean much about the club from the pages of The Friend – which for many years carried an annual report on their activities – and from the magazines produced by the old scholars’ associations of Quaker schools.

So what sort of organisation was it? And did it do more than just play cricket?

Each year the players came together, usually in August, to tour in the Herefordshire and Shropshire areas. The cricket was clearly memorable, but to many of the players it was the friendship and having a good time that was of greatest importance. An advertisement for new players in The Friend was entitled ‘Howzat for a holiday?’ and in 1927 the paper reported the club’s 25th anniversary.

Falcons 1908  - On the Loose 1The team clearly built up relationships with local Friends and members were keen to renew acquaintances each year – although there was at least one occasion when they were not allowed to return to the same lodgings! The Falcons’ archives include some correspondence on this.

One year the weather was good in Ross on Wye – it was a lovely ground and a good wicket. An elderly Friend, then a widower, spontaneously invited the whole team to lunch, without a word of warning to his housekeeper.

Falcons 1908 - Tea 1 - editBut the weather wasn’t always good and this is recorded in the score books, where the description varied from “wonderful” to “bloody awful”. Despite bad weather at Ross on Wye in 1963, the team enjoyed themselves in other ways. Some of them were “beginning to bat like golfers” and “assisted by a large lunch at the Royal Hotel” they were all out for 99. Later that day they had their Annual Dinner at the Axe and Cleaver in Much Birch, six miles south of Hereford.

In 1976 the team was based at The Farm in Shobdon and took an interest in local history, visiting local churches and castles and the historic meeting house at Almeley. They also played snooker, bar billiards and darts!

The records may be of interest to family historians, especially the score records which record players’ names and give a full picture of the games played. The photograph albums contain some local press cuttings which include names, but these cover only part of the years the club was in existence. It would be a relatively easy job to check local papers for the areas during August.

Falcons 1923 - card inside

Not all of the club’s members were Friends, but it was clearly held in high esteem. In 1938 The Friend had this to say:

It is stated on good authority that whilst the team do not claim to be a branch of the Society’s extension work, they have a reputation in the area of the Western Quarterly Meeting where they play, of being “keen, good cricketers, surprisingly punctual and still more surprisingly sober for a touring team”. Perhaps that is why one of their old opponents, a recently retired Test Match selector, told the Captain this year that: “This Quakerism is an excellent thing”

Falcons 1908 - Happy Moments 2

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