Titan of the Thames

By Sandy Nairne and Peter Williams

The first biography of Lord Desborough, a towering figure of early 20th century public life.

Saturday, 24 June 2023

Titan of the Thames Summer Update June 2023

With the longest day behind us and with summer speeding by it feels timely to update supporters and offer another window into the life of Lord Desborough.

   Three months ago the structural editor finished his work and we were able to respond positively to helpful suggestions. This took us on to copy editing and we are completing that in line with the publishing schedule. We have also agreed a revised front cover design (above) and are grateful to Mark Ecob for his design work. We are therefore on track for your copy(ies) to reach you in early 2024. This may seem some way away but we appreciate your patience and your support.

   If any of you are cricket fans – and we know there are some – this summer features the exciting Test series against Australia. With the series well underway we wanted to reference the fact that Lord Desborough was President of the MCC in 1912. At the time there was some surprise at his appointment given he had relatively limited involvement in the game (he played for Oxford University and one or two touring clubs, including I Zingari). However, it was recognized that as an outstanding sportsman and sports administrator his experience would be useful and it was soon called upon. Uniquely in the annals of cricket his year in office coincided with the first (…and last: see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1912_Triangular_Tournament) triangular test series involving England, South Africa and Australia (the only test-playing countries at the time). The series was not a great success, in part due to poor weather. But it was also notable for the refusal to participate by six of Australia’s top players as a consequence of an on-going dispute with the nascent Australian Board of Control. Desborough attempted to break the deadlock but to no avail and the series went ahead without them. Here is a dinner card from the contest.

Triangular Tour dinner card, 1 May 1912, designed by George Hillyard Swinstead.

Desborough was more successful in supporting the establishment of limited over cricket through the long-running Julian Cup (donated by him and named after his eldest son) in the Maidenhead area. Desborough supported the idea of giving more people, largely those working, the chance to play cricket in the evenings. One suspects he would also have been excited by the current so called ‘Bazball’ style of cricket adopted by captain Ben Stokes and the England team. Below are the victorious Julian Cup winners of 2019 with the trophy and its much extended base.

Hash Hussain, left, and Vishal Arjan of Stoke Green Cricket Club, Julian Cup winners, 2019

If you know those who would like to become subscribers to Titan of the Thames, do please refer them to the Unbound website at: https://unbound.com/books/titan/

Enjoy your summer and we will report further in the autumn.

Peter Williams and Sandy Nairne

Back to project page
Share on social

Top rewards