The finale of a year of celebrations to mark the 125th anniversary of one of the region’s best known cricket grounds will include a unique opportunity to see the handwritten Victorian letters pledging funds to buy the ground.
Jesmond Cricket Ground in Newcastle – which is the county home of Northumberland’s cricket team – is holding an anniversary celebration at lunchtime on September 13.
Former England cricket captain Mike Gatting, who is about to become president of the MCC, will be sending a video message to the event and there will be the announcement of a Roll of Honour to mark the contribution of those who played leading roles in the ground’s history.
The ground is also throwing open the gates to visitors for English Heritage Open Days on September 12, with displays, family activities and a Discovery Trail.
In its long history, the ground has hosted more than 400 minor counties games, tour matches by national Australia, Pakistan and South Africa sides and a number of all-star games in the 1980s where some of cricket’s biggest names appeared.
Alan McKenna, Chairman of Northumberland County Cricket Club, said: “Northumberland has been based at this ground for more than a century. It’s no mean feat to have reached this milestone and we’re delighted to be marking it with such a special celebration.”
Co-chair Nick Humble said. “This ground has been part of people’s lives for generations – whether they’re enjoying watching the cricket or sharing this beautiful spot for family events like christenings, it means a lot for people here and around the world. We’re delighted to have shared its history with so many local people over this year.”
The written pledges to buy the ground – made by leading North East figures, including Earl Grey – secured it for future generations. Former ground trustee Nicholas Craig will read extracts and give a presentation about the background. Tickets costing £5 are available from Newcastle Cricket Club.
The ground’s actual anniversary on July 14 was marked by cricket matches, a town crier declaration and a blessing of the stumps, following three days of activities with more than 600 pupils and teachers at West Jesmond School. An Audio Guide has been launched to capture the stories of the people commemorated by the Memorial Benches, and the Tyne and Wear Archive has set up a Jesmond Ground Archive.