Formed in 1837, the story of Ledbury Cricket Club opens with a report of a match against the other newly-formed team in the county, Ross-on-Wye, a fixture which was replicated in 2012 to celebrate both clubs reaching 175 years.
On that day back in 1837, Ross-on-Wye were the winners.
As the game of cricket became more popular in England, other local teams were formed. As well as sides in Hereford, Malvern and Worcester, clubs sprang up in Bromyard, Leominster, Colwall, Bosbury, Dymock, Newent, Eastnor and the Frome Valley. By the early 1900s a fairly substantial fixture list was available in the area.
With the start of the Great War, it became difficult to carry on, so in March 1916 notice was given to terminate the tenancies of the bowls and tennis grounds on December 31st, 1916. It was decided to do nothing with the ground and just let the grass grow for sheep grazing.
The next meeting of the club was held in March 1919 where, after a 'promising' attendance, the club was reformed under the chairmanship of Mr A. Carless.
The year 1937 saw Ledbury celebrate their centenary with a match against Hereford on May 8th, a game Ledbury were fortunate to draw, but the club got into its stride ahead of the mid-summer fixture against Ross-on-Wye, Ledbury's first ever opponents in 1837, a fixture which had been revived after a lapse of several years.
Watched by a healthy crowd of friends and former players, Ledbury collapsed badly, bowled out for just 53 of which 10 were extras. Ledbury were beaten by 10 wickets, in what was their first defeat of that season.
In 1939, with the onset of the Second World War, the club again disbanded.
Reforming the club after the war was beset with many problems, but with the help of Mr C.B. Masefield and Mr B. Champion, along with the groundsman Mr J. Weston, Ledbury played their opening post-war fixture against Colwall on May 18th, 1946.
Over the next few years Ledbury built up a powerful side which went unbeaten in 1948 and again in 1951, and suffered only two defeats in 13 matches in 1949. Three of the club's players, Bill Weston, Joe Nuttridge and Wilf Lawrence, all played for the Herefordshire Minor Counties XI.
In 1949, Wilf Lawrence scored more than 1,000 runs and went on to score more than 1,000 runs again, and take 100 wickets in 1951. His record that year was 1,124 runs at an average of 43.2 and 109 wickets at a cost of just 8.10 runs each. He achieved this by opening both the bowling and the batting. Altogether he scored 26 centuries and took more than 1,000 wickets in his playing career, a remarkable record.
Ledbury continued to have mixed fortunes throughout the remainder of the 1950s, and on into the 1960s and 1970s.
In 1975 Ledbury joined the Hereford Cricket League and for the first few years gave a good account of themselves. When the team was relegated it became difficult to get back on form and the club bounced between divisions until 1985 when the club began to get back into a winning vein, but with injuries and work commitments, the side started to decline again.
The year 1987 began for Ledbury on a cold January 1st morning as the club began its 150th anniversary celebrations with a match played on what could only be described as a sticky wicket. The year included a match against a Whitbread XI which counted Basil D'Olivira amongst its ranks and culminated in a dinner with Brian Johnson as the guest speaker.
Two years later the club achieved success with their promotion to Division 1. It was during this season that Chris Smith produced a match-winning century against Moccas to ensure promotion, this despite running out most of his own side.
In 1992, Ledbury joined the newly-formed Marches Cricket League, and despite nearly disbanding in 1996, the club was crowned Division 2 champions in 1998 and again in 2000. Success continued for the club and in 2006 the Second XI were crowned Division 5 champions for the first time.
Today, with the new ground allowing the club to develop more young players, the prospects for Ledbury cricket look healthy, and there is a strong blend of youth and experience in both sides and an expectation that the younger players can continue to develop and bring further success for the club.