When I saw this challenge I immediately thought of steam engines. I am a railfan after all. Built for the NSW railways in 1943- 38 Class steam locomotive 3801. Photographed in South Australia during the Bicentennial in 1988. An award winning short film called “A Steam Train Passes” was made about this locomotive in 1974.
The cricket season is on us again with the first international match being played tonight so although this is not an Ashes summer I wanted to write about a recent visit I paid to Sunbury, Victoria, “The Birthplace of the Ashes”. I know that some of the people who read this blog are not from cricket playing nations, or maybe are just not interested in cricket. I won’t judge them. I didn’t care for it myself until about 12 years ago. Anyway for those who already know all about it please bear with me while I attempt to explain how the Ashes began. It will be a lot easier than trying to explain the LBW rule which still baffles me. I mean, as far as I can see, LBW is a rule that says that a man is out because of something that might have happened had he not been standing where he was. But let’s not go there.
It all began back in 1882. Queen Victoria was on the throne of England and the British Empire had spread to far distant parts of the world. This meant that England now had opponents to play cricket against.
“The British Empire” by The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick – File:BlankMap-World-large.png and own work by uploader. Composed from maps found in:
Brown, Judith (1998) The Twentieth Century, The Oxford History of the British Empire Volume IV, Oxford University Press ISBN: 0199246793.
Dalziel, Nigel (2006) The Penguin Historical Atlas of the British Empire, Penguin ISBN: 0141018445.. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
The match between England and Australia at The Oval in London was said to be one of the most exciting ever. After a poor start the tourists beat the home side by just 7 runs after fast bowler Fred Spofforth took 14 English wickets for 90 runs. The Australians had beaten one of the best English sides of the time and the hosts were demoralised. A few days later” The Sporting Times” published the following obituary.
In Affectionate Remembrance
E N G L I S H C R I C K E T,
which died at the Oval
29th A U G U S T, 1882
Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances
NB – The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.
Fast forward to a few months later when the English team under the same Captain, the Honourable Ivo Bligh, later Lord Darnley, paid a visit to Australia. Three official Test Matches were played in Melbourne and Sydney. As England won two of them pride was restored. The English side then went on to tour southern Australia while the Australian team went to England to play. After a match in Adelaide, which England won, Bligh made a speech in which he said “I have come to retrieve the ashes of English cricket.” This was probably the first time the expression was used but it meant little at this stage.
The next match was against Victoria and was played on the grounds of Rupertswood, a fine mansion in Sunbury owned by Sir William Clarke (see, we are getting there) which is about 40km north-west of Melbourne. During the team’s visit a group of women, including Florence Morphy who was Lady Clarke’s music teacher, jokingly presented Ivo Bligh with a small urn which was said to contain the ashes of the bails used in the match.
Florence Morphy married Ivo Bligh a year or so later and the small urn remained in the possession of the family until Lady Darnley donated it to the MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club) at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London after her husband’s death.
I have included some links at the end of this post that go into a bit more detail.
Rupertswood was sold in 1925 and again in 1926 eventually being bought by the Salesian Society for use as a boarding school in 1927. In recent times the mansion has been used as a function centre and it was possible to do a tour of it but recently the owners decided to use it as for administration offices and much of the historic furniture and fittings were sold at auction. I was disappointed to hear that as I would liked to have seen inside.
I did manage to see the outside of the mansion on my recent visit to Melbourne and as it happened a game of cricket was being played on the oval while we were there. My friend Bruce visited Rupertswood before the auction and took a lot of photos of the interior of the mansion. He has been kind enough to allow me to use some of them in this post. Thanks Bruce.
In the main part of Sunbury you can see some bronze busts of famous Test cricketers, W.G. Grace, Ivo Bligh, Donald Bradman and Dennis Lillee are all represented. At Melbourne’s MCC Museum which I will write more about in another post I talked to one of the old members who told me that until recent times touring English teams would often return to Rupertswood for a picnic match. The demands of modern cricket mean that his no longer happens. But at least I did see the birthplace of The Ashes.
Here are a selection of photos of Rupertswood by Bruce Laughton. The bronze busts in Sunbury town centre were photographed by me.
References and Further Reading:
What is your most vivid memory of the kitchen in your childhood?
The most vivid memory I have of the kitchen in the first home I lived in was of the time that mum, my sister and I came home from a holiday at my grandparent’s house to find that dad had redecorated the kitchen. He had done the walls in a vivid red and cream splatter sort of pattern. Mum absolutely hated it. She said that it looked like someone had done a murder in there. Poor dad probably thought he was doing the right thing because mum usually liked red. I rather liked the bright colour myself and didn’t think it particularly gory until mum put that picture in my head.
As a child, who was your favorite relative?
Apart from my mum of course I think my favourite relative was my maternal grandmother. We called her “Nanny”. I didn’t see her often because she lived in another town but we would go and stay with her for a couple of weeks every summer and occasionally at other times. Nanny had frizzy hair, the only old lady I had ever seen that looked like that. I was told that she once had long hair which came down to her waist but that it went frizzy after she had a fever as a young girl.
When we visited our grandparents Nanny would bring out toys that she’d saved for us to play with. I think that a lot of them were the figures that were often given away in cereal packets (very collectible today). She had a piano in her front room and it was a treat to be allowed to pretend to play it. She always seemed a kind and gentle lady to me but I think that she must have had a good sense of humour and that she may have been a bit accident prone from some of the funny stories mum would tell about her.
After my grandfather died Nanny went to live with one of my aunties and her family. When they went to Australia Nanny went with them. She was waiting to meet us when we arrived a year later. Sadly we didn’t have a lot of time with her after that as she died the following year a few months before my tenth birthday.
What did you or did not like about the first apartment you ever rented?
I did not move out of home until Hubby and I were married. We rented a Housing Trust flat which was part of a large housing complex. It was a nice flat as flats go. It had two bedrooms but best of all as we were on the second floor we had a spacious balcony. We put a table and chairs out there and I tried to grow some plants. The grounds around the flats were nicely landscaped and I liked the hydrangea plants that grew there. It was an easy walk to the local shops and to the bus stop so it was very convenient. Those were the things I liked. However, I didn’t really like living in a flat. I didn’t like having to share laundry space with the other families. I was new at housekeeping and a couple of times I got into trouble for not draining the washing machine properly, sometimes I would go to the laundry and find that the machine or all the clothes hoists were all being used to I’d have to carry the dirty clothes back upstairs again. I didn’t like having neighbours above, below and next door. The downstairs ones were very quiet but the upstairs ones were noisy and the ones beside us were always on their balcony which adjoined ours. I didn’t then and still don’t like having over friendly neighbours that invade my privacy. Most of all though I didn’t like the building supervisor. When I first met him he gave me a big lecture about being quiet and not disturbing the neighbours when he handed over the keys and when we had a broken switch in the bathroom he acted as if we had damaged it on purpose. I felt sure that he was like this because we were young people, I was only 20 at the time. I was very glad when a year later we were able to move into our own house.
What kind of TV commercial would you like to make? Describe it.
I don’t know that I would really like to make a TV commercial. I think we have enough of those already. However, if I were to make one I would want it to make people laugh as well as think. The TV commercials that I’ve remembered the longest have been ones that made me laugh or occasionally made me get a lump in my throat like the QANTAS one that used to feature a choir singing “I Still Call Australia Home”. There would be a catchy tune that you’d want to sing along with or there might be a cute animal in it.
Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?
Last week we had some high winds that did a lot of damage. Some buildings lost part of their roofs, falling trees blocked roads in some places and there were power outages. However, none of this affected us and our little photinia hedge came through unscathed.
As I write this post there is a tradesman grinding the tiles down in our bathroom and tomorrow new tiles will be laid to complete the work we had done before. I am looking forward to clean, new tiles.
What is your favorite time of day?
I like mornings. I don’t get up early as often as I used to but I used to like to see the sun rise and I like the way things are quiet early in the day. If I have to catch an early bus to Hobart I can hear the birds singing while I’m waiting outside. I like the light in the mornings too and I like getting to town just as things are opening for the day.
What’s your favorite charitable cause and why?
I wish I had the money to support more charities. These days I often find myself having to say no even to ones I’ve supported in the past. However I find it hard to say no to animal charities. The RSPCA is one, the World Wildlife Fund is another. These days Hubby and I try to support charities by buying our Christmas Cards and calendars from the Combined Charities card shop and by giving virtual gifts to family members by making a donation on their behalf to the WWF or to a humanitarian organisation like Oxfam to support people in developing countries. We feel that this is a gift that gives twice, to the beneficiaries by supporting useful projects and to our family members who tell us that they really don’t need more things. There are a lot of worthy causes but I guess I choose these charities because a lot of the problems animals have were caused by humans and they can’t speak for themselves so they need us to do it for them. I like to donate to Oxfam and similar organisations because the money helps to give people the basic necessities that everyone should have, clean water, shelter, health, education and a means to support themselves.
How do you like to spend a rainy day?
Today has been a very rainy day and I spent some of it pottering in the doll room. If it’s too wet to go out I’m quite happy to read, write blog posts or read other people’s, watch TV with Hubby or maybe play a computer game.
When writing by hand do you prefer to use a pencil or pen?
I do prefer a pen usually but lately I’ve been experiencing pen failure at inconvenient times. I’ve taken to carrying a notebook when I’m out in case I want to jot down things for the blog but on two or three occasions when I’ve sat down at a cafe or bus stop with time to spare and taken out my notebook my pen has refused to work. I think that I may need to invest in a good quality pen to keep in my handbag. However this question reminded me of a story I heard about the difficulty of getting pens to work in space. Maybe I should get one of these.
“AG-7 Space Pen” by Cpg100 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?
The day before I went to Melbourne my back was aching badly. I was afraid that it was going to really impact on my trip as I’d hoped to do a lot of walking. On the morning of the trip I took two anti inflammatory tablets at breakfast and put the packet in my bag. I didn’t touch them all weekend. By the time I reached Melbourne I felt fine and I walked several kilometres on the Sunday and Monday.
In the week coming up I’m looking forward to getting a quote for getting the rest of our bathroom floor tiled. We had the new shower put in a year or so ago but couldn’t afford to do the rest then but it will be nice to have everything matching.