AS cricketers at Kidderminster prepare to finally start their season, players will also be raising their bats to mark 150 years of the club in Chester Road.

Celebrations of the milestone anniversary will be muted as a result of coronavirus restrictions on large gatherings, but the historical significance will not be lost.

The club moved - literally lock stock and barrel - from its previous home in the Villiers Street and Lorne Street area, transporting the wooden pavilion by horse and cart.

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Another ground floor was built using bricks and then assembled the original structure on top.

This lower part was for stabling the horse and ground maintenance equipment, leaving the old pavilion above for the players.

The pavilion was quite new when the club moved it, as just seven years earlier, with debts of £8, it launched a subscription list – a crowdfunding campaign of its day – to raise £40 to build the 30ft by 16ft structure.

The first match played at Chester Road was on August 20 1870. The ground was originally rented but when it came up for sale in 1920, carpet-baron Michael Tomkinson bought it and sold it to the club when sufficient funds had been raised.

One of the oldest carpet manufacturers in Kidderminster, Tomkinson’s, were great supporters of KCC and many of the family played at a good level.

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The current iconic black and white pavilion was added in 1925 and the wall along the Chester Road boundary was built in 1936.

The old pavilion, which admittedly had seen better days and was only used for storage, was sadly destroyed in an unexplained arson attack in April 2008.

The site was rejuvenated within a couple of years with the building of a Masonic Lodge, creating a permanent home to several local lodges and bringing many Freemasons to enjoy the facilities offered in the clubhouse and Long Room, along with the cricket, and we are very grateful for their support.

The club has amassed a wealth of accolades and a rich history during its 150 years at Chester Road.

It made history itself when, in 1965 during a friendly between Worcestershire and the Cavaliers with the great Denis Compton batting, the Early Bird satellite sent pictures of the game around the world.

The great W G Grace played for Kidderminster in 1883 against The Saxons and is said to have hit a ball over the house on the west side of Chester Road. His match fee was £10 and a Kidderminster carpet.

The Birmingham League was formed in 1888, the oldest cricket league in the world.

Dudley News: The weather vane on top of the current pavilion built in 1925The weather vane on top of the current pavilion built in 1925

Seven clubs were admitted but KCC didn’t join until 1895, by which time there were nine.

Prior to the First World War, KCC won the Championship three times in 1899, 1901 and 1910 and twice in the inter-war period in 1924 and 1929.

After the Second World War, the club took the title in 1946, 1950, 1962, 1973 and 1975.

The Challenge Cup evening competition started in 1958 and was won by KCC in 1966, 1967, 1980, 1982 and 2004.

The club also won the Williamson Trophy in 2009 and has competed strongly in the National Club Knock Out competition, reaching the semi-final twice.

County cricket has been played at Kidderminster since 1921, including 72 1st XI matches along with many 2nd XI games and county women’s games. With the county ground in New Road, Worcester, so prone to flooding, Chester Road is the official “standby” ground.

The only county never to have played at Chester Road is Gloucestershire, but Derbyshire have been the visitors on 14 occasions.

KCC has had a number of test players in their teams as professionals, namely Arthur Wellard (Somerset and England), Roy Tattersall (Lancashire and England), Fred Rumsey (Worcs, Somerset and England), John Parker (Worcs and New Zealand). Graeme Hick, Basil D’Oliveira, Steve Davis and James Taylor also played for England.

D'Oliveira was often treated in an outrageous manner by the cricket authorities, but he never let it affect his game.

He played for KCC in 1964 whilst qualifying for Worcestershire, scoring 706 runs and taking 43 wickets. Playing against Aston Unity, he took 5-82 and then hit 109 runs in 87 minutes in his team’s score of 198.

In recent years, the ground, under the care of groundsman Chris Longmore, has become widely respected as one of the best in the Midlands, and has been voted by the Birmingham league as best pitch and outfield for the last four years.

In addition to county cricket, all levels of the game, from over 70s to under 8s, are played at the ground and the club boasts a strong junior section, with youngsters graduating to the senior teams including the 1st X1.

The ground also hosted many ICC matches and has been the venue for a number of other prestigious games, including England over 60s and 70s test matches, England disability cricket, international police tournaments and a ladies’ test match between England and Australia.

With the rise in the women’s game, the club is developing a women’s and girls’ section, with teams at u9, u11 and u13, plus the Golden Ducks softball ladies’ team.

Chester Road is also home to the Kidderminster Lions junior football club and the social base for Kidderminster Hockey Club, who, together with KCC, formed the Chester Road Sports and Social Club (CRSSC) some years ago, which has recently become a limited company.

KCC is run by a band of dedicated volunteers for the benefit of its many players, senior and junior, and in the true spirit of its forward-thinking forefathers who trudged a quarter of a mile with their pavilion to their new home, this dynamic club continues its evolutionary journey.