125 Years: Pavilion, ground and area

The wonderful archive pictures of the Jesmond ground show that the whole area has changed beyond recognition since cricket was first played in 1888.

Funds to acquire the land next to All Saints Cemetery were raised at a Fancy Dress Ball in April 1887 at Newcastle’s Assembly Rooms. But it took another year for the ground to be suitable for cricket, and the first match took place on 14 July 1888. The teams were the 10th Hussars and the Lords of Northumberland, and the ground was full! To get a sense of the times, this was the year when the first ever recording of a musical performance took place: several thousand singers Israel in Eqypt at the Crystal Palace Handel Festival in London, recorded by Col. George Gouraud on Edison’s yellow paraffin cylinder.

Researchers have now traced the original newspaper reports of the First Match and of the fancy dress ball in 1887 at Newcastle’s Assembly Rooms which raised vital funds to create the Ground.

Osborne Avenue was originally fields with trees. The impressive art deco flats by the ground were only built in the 1930s, and for years they had a wonderful view – now trees have grown up. Trams once rode along the Avenue which are now full of cars and parking zones.

The Pavilion was memorable: until the 1960s it was known as the “Swiss chalet”. The unusual building had been moved from Exhibition Park. Its replacement has been hailed by English Heritage as an architectural gem.

‘Swiss Chalet’

In the ground, the current scoreboard was previously used as a tearoom. The popular Callers games of the 1980s also saw marquees around the ground to serve the sellout crowds and corporate visitors.

This information has been gathered as part of the Jesmond Ground Heritage Project – we’ve lots more pages which will continue to be updated over the next two months. There’s a summary here.