1892 Map of Brighton (Black’s Handy Atlas of England and Wales)
The Queens Park Cricket Ground in Brighton probably disappeared off the map in the 1890’s, but I had the delight of playing there. Well, sort of. I’m not that old, of-course. But my relationship with the area comes from the imaginary Cricket ground I created in the back garden as a youngster, where I used to regularly hone my bowling action, pretending to be part of a bigger pitch. We lived near St Luke’s Church, in the square of houses bounded by Queens Park Terrace, Queens Park Road, St Luke’s Road and St Luke’s Terrace. So you can imagine how eerily surprised I was when, years later, whilst researching another point of local history, I saw the ground marked on a map in the exact area I’ve described. Yet sadly details remain very sketchy, and it appears that there are no photos in public circulation. Through various processes of elimination, the ground appears to have been active in the 1870s, but perhaps not so active following the commencement of building work on St Luke’s Church in 1881. The houses in the vicinity began construction in the 1890s. Of the ground itself, ‘Pete’ writing in the ‘My Brighton & Hove’ online pages says: ‘The ground was dug out, flattened and turfed in 1874 for use as the cricket ground which was called ‘South Side Cricket Ground’ This ground was owned by William Hallett (Jr). He purchased 25 acres from his friend, the Marques of Bristol. This Cricket ground was built to be overlooked by the Park Tavern, which was also owned by William Hallett (Jr). The Park Tavern function room was the original pub which had joining buildings built to the east side of it. The Queens Park Tavern as is now (edit: now ‘The Hanover’), wasn’t built until 1881. Hallet Senior was founder of the Kemp Town Brewery and both the Hallett’s were Mayor, who represented the Park ward. Before Mr Hallett Jr died, he stated that the ground would stay rural, with no building of houses until 7 years after his death’ Beyond this, other information has been hard to come by. There is an obscure reference to a match that was once played there in an old local newspaper, and interestingly another which suggests the area was also used for other games, with reference to a multi sports event that took place on the 20th April 1876. Beyond this the area remains a mystery, and I am stuck with my imagination as to what the place would have looked like, how the pitch would have played, and the other uses of the ground itself. So many places in Brighton have early pictures, but none for this. So for now my imagination has to keep working away as I view the allotment from my Dad’s back garden, and visualise myself standing at square-leg. Certainly until the day someone reads this page and thinks to them self ‘I have an old picture of that’. But like Hartington Road Halt Railway Station (see another article) I doubt that will ever happen.