• Keith Gregson

ASHBROOKE’S RARE 1878 AUSTRALIAN CRICKET PHOTOGRAPH – THE PLOT THICKENS!

Update on ‘When Sunderland Cricketers tested the Australians’ blog


Since writing my piece on the Australian cricket sides playing in Sunderland in 1878 and 1880, I have been in contact with various official bodies to see if our photo of the 1878 side is as rare as I think it is. I have had a most welcome and immediate response from the Library and Research Manager at Lord’s Cricket Ground – home of the MCC. His name is Neil Robinson and he describes himself intriguingly as a ‘Gateshead F C Supporter and Real Ale Drinker’! His reply was as follows;

‘We do in fact have another copy of this same photograph in the collections at Lord’s. It is, however, in much poorer condition than yours appears to be. Our copy is mounted and the mount is stamped with the name of a photographic studio called W.J. Byrne & Co. But we don’t have the location of the setting recorded. Was the photograph taken at Chester Road?’

After a little bit of sleuthing I was able to answer the question in the negative. W J Byrne and Company was based in Richmond, Surrey so it would appear that we now know exactly where the photograph was taken. In addition if you go to Google Images and type in ‘1878 Australian Cricket Team’ you get a series of photographs including the 12 players plus a single official whereas ours has three officials. A careful look at the 1878 photographs online clearly suggests that our photograph was taken at the same time as the most official looking photograph where the

players are all wearing the stripy outfits and there is greenery in the background. A scroll further down the Google Images page then produces a decent copy of the same picture as ours on the Derby and Derbyshire web site ‘Picture the Past’ where it is described as ‘ Buxton CC c1878 Unofficial party of Australian cricketers’. Further research reveals that the touring side played a XXII of Buxton in a two day match in early August of that year.

So we are now up to three copies of our photograph which still makes it fairly rare.

Watch this space for anything further of interest turning up on this topic.


Below is the Sunderland Echo account of the match from September 1878.



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