Stories That Research has uncovered in the
Coopers of Streatham and Beyond

The Cricket Photo

One of the dreams of Family History researchers is to be able to see what our ancestors looked like. It has therefore been disappointing in researching the Cooper family to find that there are so few photographs of those people who lived in the 19th Century. Photos of two of Edward Coopers sons have been found and definitely identified. These are Alfred, who went to New Zealand in 1912 and Walter(Snr)who lived in the Sydenham, Kent area most of his life. These are the only two from the whole of Edward's children. Until, Rob Archer found and sent in a photo of a cricket team. Willie Bray Cooper (Snr)(another of Edward's sons) was known to have been a keen cricketer and one would think that he must surely be in the photo. Unfortunately the photo had no names written on it. Fortunately I was in touch with John W Brown, a local historian from Streatham who offered to help identify the team.
After investigation he included a piece in a series of Heritage articles that he writes for the Streatham Guardian Newspaper. The article appears below together with a copy of the photo.

"This week local historian John W Brown tracks down a long forgotten Streatham cricket club with the help of an old Victorian photograph from the other side of the world."

It is a well known fact that in the spring a young man's fancy turns to cricket. The sound of leather on willow has echoed across Streatham for over 260 years.
The earliest reference found of the game refers to a match played on the White Lion fields at Streatham' on Friday, July 9, 1736. This venue was probably near the White Lion public house.
The Streatham Cricket Club was established on May 5, 1806, making it one of the oldest clubs in the country. Membership was originally limited to 40 players who each paid an annual subscription of five guineas (5.25). This ensured the group would be limited to the gentry who could afford the fee.
However, those poorer members of the parish were still able to enjoy the game with a number of local teams being formed by the less affluent residents of the area. One such team comprised the coachmen and gardeners who worked at some of the larger houses in Streatham.
A photograph of this team, taken in 1907, survives in the archives of Christ Church School at Streatham Hill.
Another remarkable old photograph of a Streatham team in the 1890s was recently discovered by Ted Cooper of Lower Hutt in New Zealand. This came to light while he was researching his family history. Ted's grandfather, William Bray Cooper, was born near the bridge at Lower Streatham on June 6, 1864. Old records show the family was then residing in a small cottage not far from hermitage Bridge, in south Streatham.
The Coopers subsequently moved to Wellfield Road, and it was from here in 1885 William left to join the Army. He returned home seven years later, first living at 70 Colmer Road, not far from his birthplace, and later at 30 Ferrers Road.

William, and his brother Herbert, were both keen cricketers, and it is likely they are featured in the photograph discovered by Ted. Sadly the names of the players are not recorded on the picture.
To help identify the team, Ted contacted the Local History Group of the Streatham Society.
The interwoven initials SA on the cap badges of the players provided a vital clue in the hunt for information. Preliminary research suggested this may be the Streatham Albion Cricket Club. This team was established in 1880 by harry Hazell, a local coal merchant who later became a well-known councillor. However, no reference could be found of any player in the side called William or Herbert Cooper.
Just when all seemed lost, an account of a cricket match featuring teams called Streatham Athletic and Comet was discovered. The game took place in September 1894 at the Hyde Farm sports ground in Balham. Listed among the players was a W Cooper who took two of Comet's wickets, and was bowled out for five runs. Also detailed was a H Cooper who made three runs. Both players were top scorers for their team, who were beaten by Comet by 78 runs.
Although the identity of the players featured in Ted's photograph remains a mystery there appears a strong family likeness between the two men seated on the right.
One holds a bat suggesting this was his prowess; the other has the steady stare and bearing of a military man. Could these be the brothers William and Herbert Cooper?

So, it is a good guess that the two who look similar are the two brothers - but it would be great, both for the Cooper family and Streatham Local History, if someone could clearly identify the players in the photo.

If anyone, family member or cricketer has a photo from the same club, with names attached, or is able to throw any light on the matter - could they please contact Mr John W Brown, the author of this article, at 316 Green Lane, Streatham, London SW16 3AS.