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Ralph Milbanke Hudson - Founding Cricket Member (1 of 2)

It has been noted on a number of occasions that Sunderland C C can be proud of the fact that it is recognised by sport historians as the oldest continous sports club in the Tyne and Wear area. This is judged on continous written records - and the records of Bishopwearmouth Cricket Club (as we were initially known) date back to 1834 when they were kept by the remarkable Ralph Milbanke Hudson Senior (1813 -1908). One of his sons is responsible for leaving us with what is said to be the oldest complete set of club rugby kit known to the World Rugby Museum but his father was also an extraordinary character. This is borne out by an interview he gave to the local press on his 90th birthday in 1903 and his tale is worth repeating.

Part 1 1813 -1834

Ralph was the club's first secretary and captain and , according to his obituary, an 'exceptionally fine' cricketer. He was born in Sunderland Street in 1813 ( today the street opposite Pop Recs on High Street) and became a founding member of the club at 21. In 1817 he was carried to the Barracks at the east end of High Street on the shoulder of a soldier. His regiment had just arrived in town from garrison duty in France after the Battle of Waterloo. At that time the population of what is now Sunderland was some 30,000 with no gas supply or docks and a river which could be crossed by foot at low tide. He went to school in Sunderland and France but at 12 joined the family's shipping business. His first job was to count the 'corbs' - bundles of imported willow used to make baskets for hauling coal out of the mines - ( no lifts/cages yet!) In 1821 he travelled by sea to London to see the coronation of George IV but was delayed by the weather and missed the event by a day. As a teenager he went to the opening of the Hetton Railway and watched the legendary Puffing Billy under steam. A year later he witnessed the foundation stone being laid for the construction of the new harbour and habitation at Seaham. All in all he saw five monarchs on the English throne (Homework - find out who they were!) and we will take up his story from the foundation of the club to his death in a later blog.

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