Smith, Paul Andrew (2013) The Introduction and Development of Cricket in Halifax and District in the 19th Century. Masters thesis, Ubiversity of Huddersfield.

Much of cricket’s historiography has concentrated on the initial development and growth of the game in the south-east of England from the eighteenth century with its attendant features of patronage and later amateurism, rational recreation and moral discipline. This thesis is a case study of the growth and development of the game in a very different locality, Halifax and its surrounding district on the very western extremity of the West Riding of Yorkshire which at the same time was experiencing vast changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution. The development of the game of cricket in this locality has received little or no attention from previous researchers.

Folk games related to cricket had been present in Halifax as early as 1680 but it was not until the early part of the nineteenth century that the formal game began to take an established hold in Yorkshire.

The thesis explores the themes involved as the game struggled to gain a hold in this hilly and inaccessible part of the West Riding. Having the time required to play and the lack of suitable places and facilities to play were significant problems. Disputes were commonplace in the early period and the game and early identifiable clubs remained transitory as the growth of urbanisation and the cost of the game’s infrastructure defeated many. Halifax did possess a large area of open common land, Skircoat Moor which was extensively used but ultimately its poor surface stifled the game’s further development.

The arrival of the elite itinerant professional game at the mid-point of the nineteenth century was a significant transition point and the study looks at how this professionalism and commercialisation migrated to the local game. Increasing numbers of working class participants with the gradual reduction in working hours also helped the game to grow although even by 1870 few clubs had any continuity and the local game was still largely transitory.

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