Charles Ollivierre commemorated with Blue Plaque Event

Friday 14th October 2022
& News
Photography by: David Griffin

Charles Ollivierre was a pioneering cricketer from the early days of Derbyshire County Cricket Club, and along with the influential Sam Hill-Wood, was well-connected to Glossop Cricket Club in the High Peak of the county.

Last weekend, Heritage Officer David Griffin was invited to attend the Glossop Cricket and Bowling Club where the Glossop and District Heritage Trust held a Blue Plaque Event to commemorate Ollivierre.

For some years, the Heritage Trust has been organising Blue Plaque events and this year the Trust decided to honour Charles Ollivierre for his outstanding contribution to the area.

Sam Hill-Wood was captain of Derbyshire between 1899 and 1901 and a very prominent Glossopian, his family being the owners of a large cotton mill and  a major employer in Glossop.

The family were generous local benefactors and Sam had a keen interest in sport, supporting – financially – Glossop Cricket Club and Glossop North End Football Club which played in the First Division of the Football League prior to World War One.

He and his son Denis and grandson Peter all served as chairmen of Arsenal.

Charles Ollivierre was born in St Vincent but moved to Trinidad where he played cricket and worked as a government clerk ahead of a life-changing trip much further overseas.

Touring England in 1900 with the West Indian team, he scored 883 runs, averaged 32, and made a top score of 159 against Leicestershire.

During that tour, he agreed to join Derbyshire, and Sam Hill-Wood – then the Derbyshire captain – employed him as a clerk in his Glossop offices while he served his qualification period for the championship.

An aggressive opener, he initially played for Glossop and then for Derbyshire in non-championship games before making his championship debut in July 1902.

Believed to be the first black cricketer to play county cricket, his best season came in 1904 when he made 1,268 runs at an average of 34.27 with a career-best of 229. That double hundred came in the famous game at Chesterfield when Essex’ Percy Perrins scored a triple century and ended on the losing side as Ollivierre followed up his 229 with 92 not out in the second innings, Derbyshire winning by nine wickets.

The decision to honour Ollivierre was determined by the Glossop Heritage Trust in conjunction with a number of organisations, including Glossop Cricket and Bowling Club with support from local Councillor Jean Wharmby

The event was attended by more than 100 people including past and present playing members of the Glossop Cricket Club, most prominent of whom was John Eyre, one of many cricketers from the club who went on to play first class cricket for Derbyshire. Eyre played 50 all formats matches for the county between 1963 and 1968.

Tony Wright, Chair of the Glossop Heritage Trust, Tim Knebel, Councillor Ollie Cross, Mayor of High Peak and Lee Shufflebotham, Chairman of the Cricket and Bowls Club were the principal speakers.

Unknown to this writer until the event, it was disclosed that although Ollivierre was believed to have no direct descendants he did in fact have a daughter before he came to England. She was born on 8th October 1898, 124 years to the day before the unveiling of her father’s plaque, and was known affectionally as Keke, although formally named Cecilia Bridget Da Silva, her mother being Hannah Da Silva.

Keke also had children and there a number of direct descendants living in the Caribbean and elsewhere, and it was a huge surprise when the guest of honour, Mr Randolph Benn was introduced as Ollivierre’s great great grandson.

Mr Benn, accompanied by his partner, unveiled the plaque which is situated outside the main pavilion.

For any reader interested in further information, here is a link to the aforementioned Tim Knebel’s ‘Peak in the Past YouTube video about Ollivierre:

Click here to watch.

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