Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Joseph Wells(1828-1910) professional cricketer

Joseph Wells (14 July 1828-14 October 1910) was born at Penshurst,Kent.
Joseph occupies a place in Bromley history; he is the fisherman who caught the last 2 pound trout in the River Ravensbourne. It is hard to conceive nowadays that the Ravensbourne was a fishing river. The demise of angling was as a result of the construction of the Gas Works. These had an underground ammonia tank which sometimes overflowed into the Ravensbourne. The Gas Company were successful in winning  a legal action brought to try to maintain fishing and the Ravensbourne like the London rivers Fleet and Wallbrook ceased to be the stocked river it had been. Nowadays it is largely hidden. To read more of the river see Friends of Beckenham Place Park
His uncle was Timothy Duke, a cricket Bat and Ball Manufacturer, the Duke family had begun making cricket balls in 1760 at Redleaf Hill Penshurst as a domestic or cottage industry.
Joseph appeared in 1856 at Bromley Cricket Club and in partnership with Richard Stubberfield,a police constable, revived the local club after a period of decline in population and activity in the town. From 1857 to 1869 Joseph was one of the professionals of the West Kent Cricket Club.From 1869-1872 he played for Bickley Park Club.
Joseph married Sarah Neal, a former domestic servant and they were to have four children.
Their youngest child nicknamed Bertie was Herbert George Wells. His christening is found in the Bromley Parish Register  entry 684 on  21 October 1866 and Joseph in described as a China Dealer. The shop was acquired as a result of an inheritance and also sold sporting goods. The shop was later acquired by Medhurst's and its site became part of the large Medhurst store later a branch of Allders of Croydon and currently trading as Primark.
The shop premises were at Atlas House 47 High Street Bromley but at the time Joseph was a professional cricketer for Kent. The shop failed in 1877 when Joseph fractured his thigh.
As can be seen from Joseph's Wisden Obituary he achieved the feat of being the first bowler to achieve four wickets in consecutive balls whilst bowling for his county at Brighton against Sussex in 1862 with his fast round arm bowling style. The Wisden obituary is online here.
Joseph's cricket career statistics reflect that he played county cricket at the age of 40 see Cricket Archive.
Joseph's inabilty to support the family resulted in all four children entering apprenticeships whilst Sarah re-entered domestic service as a lady's maid at Up Park House near Hastings in Sussex. The couple were separated as a result of the employer's stipulation that her post did not include accommodation for Joseph or her children.
However when her son H.G. Wells had failed in 2 apprenticeships he was allowed to stay at Up Park House. His mother was to be instrumental in H.G Wells entering a pupil/teacher post.