Victorian Bournemouth (71)

Victorian Bournemouth (70): cricket (2)

Growing interest. Social mixing.


Victorian Bournemouth (70) explores cricket as an interesting prism through which to study representational sport in the resort. Examination of the players’ social profiles shows developments in Bournemouth’s society. The Reverend J. H. Wanklyn played a major role not only in promoting local cricket but also in the town’s civic affairs.

Victorian Bournemouth (70): background and teams


Bournemouth cricket teams had made an occasional appearance during the resort’s early period, but much more activity or greater press coverage occurred 1857-1870. The report of the club’s 1868 AGM referred to fifteen games played, but press coverage appears to have listed only two events. Searches in the newspaper archive found on average about three games a year involving Bournemouth teams during its second period. Hence, either the coverage or the selection of titles has obscured many games. Nevertheless, most reports featured scorecards, preserving the players’ names. Thus, where successful identification occurs, social analysis of the players becomes possible. On occasion, a Bournemouth team featured names identical with the leading traders, but, for the most part, the reported players may have belonged to higher social levels. Editors, conscious of their readership, perhaps skewed their reporting in their direction. Hence, conclusions drawn from the analysis should take account of this practice.

Teams and their opposition

At the beginning of the second period, the Reverend J. H. Wanklyn, who had a school based in Exeter House, took the initiative in playing organised, representative cricket. They played home games in the grounds of the schoolhouse, but often went to Wimborne for games. As time passed, a ground in Springbourne appeared, then another using land donated by Mr Dean. For the most part, Bournemouth teams played against sides from nearby towns. In 1869, for example, games reported in the press occurred against Bridport, Lyndhurst, Cranborne, and Wareham. In addition, a ‘wandering’ team, the Gitanos, came to Bournemouth for a game. Games between Bournemouth and Christchurch barracks began later in the period. A game against ‘Universities’ occurred in 1867, but their team contained at least four former pupils of Wanklyn’s academy. This illustrates how the school contributed to the town’s recreation and social fabric over a continuous period.

Victorian Bournemouth (70): reverend J. H. Wanklyn


The Rev. J. H. Wanklyn (1827-1894) came from Manchester, belonging to a large family, whose firm traded in the River Plate area. Clerking for the family firm proceeded Trinity College, Oxford, in the late 1840s. By 1851, he taught at Radley College. He advertised his school at Exeter House, Bournemouth, in 1858, citing the Reverend A. M. Bennett as a reference.  His school aimed to prepare boys for ‘Universities, Military Colleges, Public Schools, or Professional Life’. Education occupied him for almost twenty years, but he appears to have sold the school and moved to London, listed there in 1881 and 1891. The Wanklyn family had a long association with Victorian Bournemouth. Perhaps an uncle visited in 1840, his father came in 1861, his brother became curate of St Michael’s, also running a preparatory school for Exeter House. A spinster sister, on a private income, lived in Bournemouth for years.

Local civics and society

For his two decades in Bournemouth, James Wanklyn played an active role in its civics and society. Proposals to site the new railway station too near to the Sanatorium, which he served as chaplain (from 1860), drew him into opposition at public meetings.  He performed Samuel Bayly’s funeral rites, a prominent businessman and mason. The drainage controversies of the 1865 and 1866 persuaded him again to become active in public meetings. Letters appeared from him in the press, praising the town, but complaining about dirty roads and footpaths. A Conservative supporter, he took Gladstone to task, criticising his attack on clerical influence in elections. The association with sports continued, extending to supporting the growth of athletics, often conducted on the cricket ground. As late as 1875 he served as secretary of the cricket club. Thus, though without a cure of souls, he played an active role in the resort’s society.

Victorian Bournemouth (70): cricket and commingling

Cricket’s parallel social lines

Victorian cricket divided along social lines. Affluent amateurs, needing no income, learned the game at public schools. Professionals, the game giving them a summer’s livelihood, learned theirs on village greens or besides collieries. The annual fixture, Gentlemen versus Players, embodied this social divide. Sons of gentlemen, Wanklyn’s pupils would play any later cricket as amateurs. In 1858, the Exeter Academy offered to play ‘all-comers’, the first ‘all-Bournemouth’ game. Plenty volunteered. The ‘All-comers’ put the boys to the sword, H. Cutler taking eleven wickets in the match, a G Cutler also playing. At that time, Henry and George Cutler worked in Bournemouth as fishmongers. The census and directories suggest that other ‘All-comers’ also ran local businesses. This fixture, therefore, reflected society’s divisions embodied in Gentleman v Players. In this case, the ‘Players’ came from middling people, respectable owners of retail businesses. Thus, Bournemouth cricket could preserve social divisions at times.


Some contemporary reformers advocated ‘social commingling’, a move that would render the Gentlemen versus Players fixture redundant. The Volunteer movement offered a mechanism for this to happen. Its ready success during the early 1860s suggested that many agreed with the reformers. In 1869, Bournemouth lost at cricket to Cranborne. The resort’s team included clergymen, a young physician, and the son of a County Court Judge, a student at Christ Church, Oxford. The name of a man recorded as a gardener in 1871 also appeared for Bournemouth’s team. Next year, Bournemouth visitors played against residents. Several Wanklyn alumni played for the residents, but so also did an apparent plumber as well as another gardener. A comparison between the teams at the end of the 1850s with those a decade later suggests that crossing a social line had occurred. Commingling combined affluent players with local working people to represent Bournemouth together.


Victorian Bournemouth (70) has analysed evidence for cricket played at the resort during its second period. Genealogical examination of participants in Bournemouth cricket teams suggests that, during the resort’s second period, some social commingling may have suited both affluent and working people.


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