Cricketers at West Wittering celebrate a special century

West Wittering's founding players in 1919
West Wittering's founding players in 1919

It’s a season full of expectation on and off the pitch for West Wittering CC as they celebrate their centenary.

The first XI, led by Carl Tupper for the tenth season, will be fighting for the division five west title in the newly formed 1st Central Sussex Cricket League, while the second XI, under Andy Priest, will be looking for promotion from division nine west – and the new ladies cricket team will be taking part in a number of fixtures across the season.

West Wittering in 2018 - they celebrate their centenary this year

West Wittering in 2018 - they celebrate their centenary this year

Junior cricket is very much alive, with nearly 40 All Stars (5-8yr-olds) and 50 junior cricketers covering the Meadow on a Friday evening. Over the winter, the outfield has seen a glorious renovation and now echoes the standards set at county cricket outgrounds. The Millennium Meadow will surely be an amazing place to play and watch cricket in 2019.

The club will host various centenrary events during the year, but the main focus will be around the Centenary Cricket Week (July 14-21) where all-inclusive community festivities will take place at The Meadow to coincide with the Peace Celebration Day and cricket 100 years ago.

The festival of cricket will conclude in a match against the MCC on Sunday, July 21. Other events include a women’s cricket festival, East v West Wittering school match, a T20 versus Rolls Royce and a Disability Cricket Festival, all aiming to bring in new members of the community.

Information gathered from the Chichester Observer & West Sussex Gazette of July 3, 1919, reveals West Wittering School played Birdham School at Cricket with the return match a fortnight later – which will be recreated between West Wittering and East Wittering School during Centenary Cricket Week.

On July 19, 1919 West Wittering village enjoyed Peace Celebration Day. Festive gatherings were held during the day preceded by a service of prayer and praise in the church. A sycamore tree was planted on the green by Mr Stone.

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An afternoon tea meeting was followed by games (including cricket) and a concert was held in Berry Barn Lane field, care of Mr Rudgewick of Cakeham Manor. In the evening fireworks and a bonfire on Snowhill were provided by the coastguards, witnessed by many parishioners, and an impromptu dance.

Sir Henry Royce moved into West Wittering in 1917 due to ill health as a consequence of living near his factories in Derbyshire. At the end of the Great War he gathered around him a select few of his young dynamic design staff (from Derby) so he could continue his brilliant work. It was in West Wittering that the Merlin engine, as used in the Spitfire, Hurricanes and Lancasters, was designed.

It is believed that the young engineers living in West Wittering were the catalyst for the formation of the village cricket team in 1919, possibly on the back of the enjoyable cricket played on Peace Celebration Day.

WWCC wish to a recognise this significant milestone by leaving a commemorative memorial in posterity for the club, future generations of cricketers and the community to use and enjoy.

The aim is to maximise the use of the pavilion by incorporating within the existing shape a new Centenary Long Room & Balcony.