Victorian Origins: Blackheath CC has its origins in three local cricket clubs – Blackheath Dartmouth – founded about 1830; Blackheath Paragon – founded about 1840 and Blackheath Morden- founded in 1863. All three clubs played on the Heath and took their names from localities fringing the Heath itself – Dartmouth Row on the West edge; Morden Road and College to the East and the Paragon – a handsome and imposing Georgian Crescent on the southern edge of the Heath. Blackheath Dartmouth played on the Heath opposite Lansdown Place and was graced by the eminent presence of the legendary “Felix” – the Ian Botham of his day. Known as Felix presumably because he was actually Mr.Wanostrocht! Blackheath Morden’s slot on the Heath was in front of St.German’s Place and it played here until the 1885 season. A famous (or infamous?) member was Montague Druitt. Not only a feared opening bowler but also a candidate for Jack the Ripper – nipping across the Greenwich foot tunnel to the East End to murder the odd prostitute. In 1886 Blackheath Morden took up residence at the new ground – the Rectory Field – and dropped the “Morden” from their title – thus creating the club we know today. The Heath was the playground for most of the local sport in Victorian times. As well as the centre for amateur cricket, it played host to golf and any other activity which took the fancy of the natives. Their enterprise has to be admired as the Heath was not the predominantly smooth grass of today. It was broken up by pits- the remains of gravel and sand workings that can still be seen in some parts today. Much of the ground was uneven and sprinkled with patches of gorse. The cricketers and other sportsmen had to clean and level their own playing area from season to season. No full time groundsman to delegate to either!
The Rectory Field: The formation of the Blackheath Cricket, Football and Lawn Tennis Company led to the development of the Rectory Field as the home for the new club and sport began to be played there in 1886. In addition to cricket, it rapidly became a famous venue for rugby – the Blackheath Rugby Club along with Richmond, being one of the oldest clubs in the world – and hosted many internationals (England vs Scotland notably) around the turn of the century.
County Cricket at Blackheath: The Rectory Field was used by Kent for County Cricket on a regular basis until 1971. Generally the match versus Surrey was played at Blackheath – certainly this was the tradition in the ’50s and ’60s. However as car parking space was sold off and questions began to arise over the quality of the outfield and Kent sought to concentrate their activities on the County Ground at Canterbury, Blackheath was lost to the County circuit. The final match in 1971 being a dreary affair against Derbyshire played in appropriately cloudy even funereal weather in the middle of a Test match and thus lacking major names from both teams. Since the Second World War, a number of Blackheath members have been members of the Kent County Cricket Club staff including J.G.W.(Jack) Davies -who dismissed Bradman for 0 in 1948; Andy Hooper; Mike Olton; Alan Knott; Richard Elms; Min Patel; Jim Melville and David Laycock.
Recent History: League cricket was unknown in the London area before the late ’60s and Blackheath did not enter the Kent League until 1973 when the original 12 member clubs from outer Kent voted to accept Blackheath, Beckenham and Bromley into the League. By then Blackheath had established themselves as one of the major clubs in the country. First, its success in the 1960s in the Evening Standard League table – a virtual League set up by the newspaper and reflecting the results between leading London clubs in their normal fixtures – proved that Blackheath were a force in London club cricket. Then, by winning the National Knockout Trophy at Lord’s in 1971 where we defeated Ealing by 8 wickets. Although Blackheath were often in contention to win the Kent League in the ’70s, it took until the 1982 season before the
Championship pennant flew at the Rectory Field. The year before, the club had again reached the Lord’s final of the National KO – now called the John Haig Trophy, this time losing to Scarborough. The League championship was won again in 1984 but that was the last time Cup or Championship honours came our way. A hint of a return to prominence came however in 1996 when Blackheath reached the Quarter final of the Evening Standard Trophy, only to lose a tense match to Hampstead by 6 runs. This competition has proved kind to us in recent years as we also reached the Quarter Final in 1999, only losing to Wanstead on countback having tied the match at 205-9. The following year we went one better – reaching the semi-final before bowing out to eventual winners, Finchley.