Before the Great War
The period before the great war saw the British Empire expanding under Queen Victoria and her government. The worlds longest Bridge was built over the River Tay in Scotland and in 1878 Alexander Graham Bell demonstrated the telephone. The era saw many sports codify their rules and become established as we know them today, including lawn tennis, which was "patented" in 1874. The cricket county championship was officially recognised in 1875. Many sports clubs, including Manchester United FC (then Newton Heath) and Barnsley Football Club (St Peters) were formed in this era.
Any fledgling enterprise may well encounter difficulties in the first few years of its being and the then Barnsley Cricket Club and Athletic Association was no exception.
One of the mainstays during this tricky period was William Carr (pictured right). Carr played with the club before being appointed secretary in 1874, an office he held initially for five years. The club was in debt at this point, however in 1877 they were back in the black to the tune of £69. This is the equivalent of almost £5600 in 2014!
In 1878 the club took on a large project of purchasing and laying another field as the original was too narrow for a decent standard of play. This project cost £285 (2014 equivalent - £23,500) and the club had paid off all but £70 of this debt when Carr resigned in 1879.
Between 1879 and 1892 the club again experienced many difficulties and when Carr returned to his post in 1892 the debt stood at £220 or around £19500 at todays rates. Whether the introduction of professionals caused the problems or other factors is as yet unknown, however the debt was soon paid off and the club embarked on their next venture, which was to level the playing area as - "the banking to the lower side of the ground caused great inconvenience to the fielder at long leg as it was impossible to see the wicket and he must guess whether the ball was coming in his drection!"
In 1894 the ground was levelled and made more or less the shape that it appears today. The ground soon became known as Shaw Lane, its old epithet of the Clarence Ground now being meaningless. Yorkshire returned to play minor matches, including the Yorkshire Colts v Nottinghamshire Colts fixtures. When Yorkshire entered the minor counties competition in 1901, Barnsley was established as a fairly regular venue. The old pavilion, known then as "the hut" was believed to have dated from this era. It was the ground's main feature and was altered considerably over the years.
The Barnsley Cricket Club & Athletic Association, Ltd. was formed in 1904 at a meeting held at the Shakespeare Hotel, Wellington Street in a bid to stabilise the monetary situation and initially this seems to have worked with a large share capital being invested. Companies House records, however show this company to have been formed in 1894 and not being dissolved until 1948. Investigations continue.
Shaw Lane was in a fragile situation, although this must have been cushioned somewhat by the membership which mainly consisted of the wealthier inhabitants of the town.
Professional cricketers were very much part of the club and the admission ticket on the left confirms that the professional in 1903 was H. Myers,
The bad weather of 1909 and 1910 cutrailed the two "Grand Athletics Meetings" which were very lucrative for the club and in 1911 a "Great Bazaar" ,opened by Lord Hawke, was held at the Public Hall to raise funds for the club.