William Beldham, popularly known as Silver Billy, was born in Yew Tree Cottage, Wrecclesham in 1766. He has been widely recognised as an outstanding professional cricketer. During a long career, he played for Farnham, Hambledon, Hampshire, Surrey, the MCC and All England. He played regularly in the annual Gentleman vs. Players match at Lords and is one of the only cricketers to have represented both these teams. His entry in ‘Wikipedia’ says:
‘Beldham was widely acknowledged as one of the greatest batsmen of the sport’s underarm era. ‘
In 1997, he was selected by John Woodcock of The Times as one of his 100 Greatest Cricketers of All Time. Billy’s Portrait hangs in the Long Room at Lords, the home of cricket. A similar picture of Billy is in the John Major Suite at the Oval, and his name is included on the Wall of Fame in South Street, Farnham. Until recently Billy Beldham was also to be seen on the Pub Sign outside the Cricketer’s Public House in Wrecclesham, which was Billy’s ‘watering hole’ in the 19th Century. This sign, seen on the right in the picture below, was taken down when the pub was changed to become an Indian Restaurant, ‘The Bengal Lounge’.
The Silver Billy Pub Sign alongside the former Cricketer’s Pub.
The Wrecclesham History Project has managed to salvage the pub sign, which had been stored in a garage in West Sussex, and has now erected it at the Wrecclesham Recreation Ground,next to the house in which Billy Beldham is said to have been born.
In a joint effort between the History Project, the Recreation Ground Committee, Waverley Borough Council and Farnham Town Council, the sign was erected at the Village Summer Fete which was held at the Recreation Ground on Sunday 26th June 2016. We feel this will be a fitting and lasting memorial to Silver Billy.
The unveiling was undertaken by Graham Thorpe who lived on Wrecclesham Hill close to the recreation ground, and played cricket for Wrecclesham before progressing to play with great distinction for Surrey and England. Graham is also one of the names on the Wall of Fame in South Street and he first learned his cricket on Wrecclesham Recreation Ground.
The Project has already received financial support for this project from:
- Farnham Town Council
- Surrey County Council
- Farnham Institute Charity
- Wise and Co Farnham
- Farnham Historic Buildings Trust
- The Southern Coop
- Surrey County Cricket Foundation
- Surrey County Playing Fields Association
- Leggatt and Thorne, Undertakers
- The Royal Oak Public House
- BBS Electrical Co Ltd