Hull is one of Yorkshire’s oldest centres for cricket and Paul Dyson looks at the two grounds in the city on which the county team have played.
Despite the former East Riding having produced a relatively lower number of county players than other parts of Yorkshire it has always been a hotbed for the game at a local level. Kingston-upon-Hull, as the area’s most populous centre is correctly called, has always been at the forefront of this and the first-known organised match took place as long ago as 1798.
By the 1830s there were several grounds on Anlaby Road – the main route west of the city and one of these was utilised by an official Hull club. The first important match took place in 1849 when XXII local players fulfilled a three-day fixture against the touring All-England XI at the Atheneum Club ground but lost by an innings. The ‘England’ team’s next three visits were all on Brown-Cow Field which had become the home of Hull Town CC in 1853. During the 1859 season, though, the area was given over for building and the newly-formed Club had to move to a new ground off Asylum Lane which, not surprisingly, had been renamed Argyle Street by 1864.
During this period Hull Town faded somewhat and the main club side in the city was Hull Kingston and it took over the Argyle Street ground. They are recorded as having played two games in 1850 including one against Beverley which they won by an innings in one day with a score of 99. Administratively, however, Hull Town CC hit back and in 1868 obtained a long lease on the ground from the North-Eastern Railway Company which owned the land. As part of the improvement in facilities, a pavilion was erected in 1874, being marked by a game between the North & East Ridings and the West Riding.
First-class cricket came to the city in 1875 with the first of two North v South games (the second being two years later) both of which featured a certain WG Grace. Four years later Yorkshire were persuaded to try the venue and paid their only visit, defeating Surrey by an innings. At all of its four first-class matches the crowd was a reasonable size but the playing area was deemed to be too small for first-class cricket as well as having the shape of a ‘D’ being bounded by a railway line. Hull’s first venue for first-class cricket was eventually sounded the death-knell at the end of 1897 when the railway authority took it over and duly covered the site with more tracks, engine sheds and a turntable.