John Wisden and Fred Lillywhite

From the London Remembers website:

“Name panel: J. Wisden & Co
Erection date: 1906

Inscription
{Around an arrangement of cricket bats, stumps, bails and ball:}
J Wisden & Compy. No. 21.
Site: J. Wisden & Co (1 memorial)

WC2, Cranbourn Street, 21

This is not the building that Wisden occupied in 1872 until his death there in 1884. Hidden London says “{The 1906 station’s} Cranbourn Street entrance replaced three houses belonging to Lord Salisbury, which had to be compulsorily purchased from the reluctant peer.” Our guess is that they were standard Victorian terraced houses like the ones to the right, just out of our photo, presumably built when Charing Cross Road was constructed in the 1870s-80s. Opened in 1906, Leicester Square tube station with these distinctive ox-blood red tiles, was designed by Leslie Green.

1896 another shop was opened in Great Newport Street and in 1928 the Cranbourn Street shop was closed.”

From Wikipedia:

“John Wisden (5 September 1826 – 5 April 1884) was an English cricketer who played 187 first-class cricket matches for three English county cricket teams, Kent, Middlesex and Sussex. He is now best known for launching the eponymous Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack in 1864, the year after he retired from first-class cricket.

Fred and John Lillywhite, as well as their elder brother, James (b. 1825), all went into business as sports outfitters. Perhaps because of this multiplicity of Lillywhites, latter day accounts of their non-cricketing activities sometimes conflict as to who did what. What is clear is that Fred was a manager, probably from 1848 to 1855, in the firm of Lillywhite Brothers, a tobacconist and sports outfitter in Islington, then on the outskirts of London.

The Lillywhites’ father died in 1854 and was buried in Highgate Cemetery, North London. The following year Fred went into partnership with the Sussex all-rounder, John Wisden (1826–84), with whom he established a tobacconist and outfitter in New Coventry Street, near Leicester Square, in the West End of London. This partnership did not survive the tour to the United States and Canada in 1859 that Lillywhite (though not himself a player) organised and of which Wisden was a prominent member.

By 1860 James Lillywhite (the elder brother) was cricketing coach at Cheltenham College, Gloucestershire, where he also ran an outfitters. John Lillywhite, who had also joined the 1859 tour, was then running a cricketing warehouse near Euston Square, London. This was the forerunner of the present Lillywhites, established in Haymarket in 1863, that, following its acquisition in 1922 by I H Benedictus, moved to the Criterion site in Piccadilly Circus in 1925.

In 1848 (still not 20) Fred Lillywhite had produced the first edition of his The Guide to Cricketers (known popularly as “Fred’s Guide“) which was published until the year of his death in 1866. This was, in many respects, the forerunner of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack, founded by John Wisden in 1864, which has since been published annually, reaching its 100th edition in 1963 and 149th in 2012. From 1867 “Fred’s Guide” was incorporated in James Lillywhite’s Cricketers’ Companion (first published in 1865 and known as the “Green Lily“) which continued in that form until 1880.

In 1865 the Marylebone Cricket Club withdrew its support for Lillywhite’s Guide. This falling out with the cricketing establishment seems to have arisen from the trenchancy of some of Lillywhite’s observations. Significantly, in 1866, Wisden noted that “John Wisden & Co have avoided making remarks upon the play or players”.

After his break with Wisden, Lillywhite was based at the Kennington Oval, home of Surrey County Cricket Club, from where, in 1862, he published Scores and Biographies, a major reference work about cricket since 1772. He published also various scoring books and sheets, as well as scorecards of matches.
Lillywhite died on 15 September 1866 at the age of 37.”

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