Holidays at Home: Gloucester Cricket Week 1943

Published: 2022
Pages: 30
Author: Gibbons, Roger
Publisher: GCCC Heritage Trust
Rating: 3 stars

Opening this particular monograph from Roger Gibbons brought into focus something I had never really thought about before, that being what my parents did for family holidays during the years of the Second World War.

The truth was that the Government, understandably given the shortages that existed, didn’t want people travelling far, so local authorities were encouraged to make staying at home more attractive by arranging entertainment at a local level. In 1941 some forward thinking individuals in Gloucester organised a cricket tournament between local teams that consisted of a series of, would you believe, twenty overs a side matches which, it seems, proved popular.

For 1943 the cricket theme was looked at again and a plan devised to hold a cricket week at the famous Wagon Works ground in Gloucester comprising a series of one and two day matches. Unlike the embryonic T20 competition there were some ‘name’ players brought in with England Test men Tom Goddard, Bob Wyatt, Arthur Fagg and George Duckworth and West Indians Learie Constantine, Manny Martingale and ‘Puss’ Achong amongst them. Plenty of others who appeared were already county cricketers and after the War Dennis Brookes, George Pope, Winston Place and, most notably, Alec Bedser went on to gain Test honours.

As you would expect Gibbons researches delve into the organisation of the week, highlighting the logistical difficulties that the wartime conditions created, the most obvious being that in the final game Tom Goddard’s XI was led not by Goddard, who had had to travel north, but by Brookes.

The booklet goes on to describe the cricket played and reproduce the scorecards of the various matches, and also describes a few of the other activities that the committees put on. Most of those are pretty much what you would expect, although a demonstration by the Domestic Poultry Keepers’ Council of killing, dressing and pelting rabbits did not strike me as wholesome family entertainment.

Overall it would seem that the ‘Holidays at Home’ week was a success, although sadly and perhaps surprisingly the cricket week made a loss and was not therefore repeated. Gibbons closing analysis of why that should have been is a compelling one and brings to a close an entertaining look back at what was a very different time.

Anyone interested in buying this and any of the other booklets can contact the author via email at gibbonsroger044@gmail.com. The price is, including UK postage and packing, a very reasonable £6 or, for multiple purchases, £15 for any three or £20 for all four booklets. An additional incentive to would be purchasers is that, naturally, all proceeds go to help the Gloucestershire museum, a very worthy cause indeed. 

Leave a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until they have been approved

More articles by Martin Chandler