Cricket’s Photographic Van

Eagar, Kelly, Lovitt, Beldham – their images seize the vacant mind – but in the van of cricket photographers is Roger Fenton (1819 – 69) whose pioneering work in the Crimea is justly better known.  

On 25th July 1857 Royal Artillery played Hunsdonbury and Fenton was there to capture probably the first photograph of a cricket match.

Born at Crimble Hall, Heap, Bury, Lancashire, Fenton had a wealthy cotton manufacturer for a grandsire and a banker and MP for a father.

A visit to the Great Exhibition in 1851 sparked a fascination in photography and, as a man of means, he was able to visit Paris to learn the calotype techniques of Gustave le Gray.

In 1855 Fenton took his assistant, Marcus Sparling, a servant and his photographic van to the Crimea. From 350 usable large format negatives, 312 prints were made and exhibited in London where they were seized on by an Establishment keen to counter the revelations of incompetence published by The Times.

Did Fenton and Sparling drive their Photographic Van to the cricket ground in July 1859?

A restless pioneer, Fenton dabbled in the art for a few more years before giving it up entirely in 1862.  Not, however, before capturing forever the moment when these ardent cricketers, many of them sporting stylish double teapots, waited impatiently for the bowler to begin his run up.  

“Oh, get on with it Carruthers, stop playing to the camera!”  “But I tell you I want another slip, Psmith. Why can’t I have a second slip?  I think I could get him if I had another slip.”

The Fentons owned Dutton Hall and much property in and around Hurst Green.  This is a photograph taken in 1859 of a bobbin mill in Shire Lane where it dips down into the beech lined Dene before rising steeply to the village – a demanding pull for old Dobbin harnessed to the van.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Cricket’s Photographic Van

  1. diogenes

    nice photos…it is a shame we have none of Alfred Mynn in action. Mind you, what we really lack is a sociological study of changing-rooms. nThis time, Strauss and Flower seemed to have a cohesive bunch of players. Flintoff failed to retain any cohesion. And as we know mfrom Frances Edmonds, a team being badly beaten somtimes finds it better to hyangaround a non team room rather than go to te official place…Just wondering if the evidence is in 3rd man’s hands

    • Diogenes,
      A dressing room not far from the home of cricket was always said to be divided physically between those who had played for England and those who had not. Mrs Edmonds may know the details of that too.
      TM

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