Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Shirts and black and white ties: Ever heard of Henbury Ladies Hockey Club?

Mike Haymonds continues to chart The Hockey Museum’s neverending array of unearthed stories

The most amazing and unlikely things happen when you talk to people, especially when The Hockey Museum was privileged to be visited by General Sir Alex Harley and his wife Lady Tina.

Sir Alex became a four-star general in a distinguished military and hockey career that spanned more than forty years. He presented some memorabilia to the museum and gave us an oral history interview which will be available on our website in the future. Whilst Sir Alex was being interviewed the curator chatted to his charming wife Tina who, never having played hockey, is a classic ‘sporting widow’.

However, their conversation revealed that she had a silver cup at home won by her grandmother’s hockey team way back before WW1. Ears pricked up because we thought that there were no competitions back in those days; indeed they were banned by the AEWHA on pain of exclusion from the sport.

Had we stumbled on a hitherto unknown piece of hockey’s history that revealed clandestine competitive hockey in the West Country? Well no, the journalistic scoop of the year was not to be!

We now know that the very pretty silver cup was presented to Tina’s grandmother for her services to Henbury Ladies HC in 1908. Henbury is and was a village north of Bristol and this club was formed in 1904. It appears that Tina’s grandmother Mrs MV Baker was the founding secretary and from the information that we have uncovered was most likely the guiding light.

In our records at The Hockey Museum we have copies of the AEWHA handbooks from this period and they confirm the club’s affiliation from 1904 up to WW1. However, the club does not appear to have restarted after the war so its existence was just for ten years. Is there anyone out there who knows anything else about Henbury LHC?

Lady Tina Harley

Our records also include the minute books for Gloucestershire Women’s Hockey Association although it is interesting to note that when it started in the 1890s the association was called Gloucestershire Women’s Hockey Club From these records we have learned that, although Henbury LHC only existed for a decade, it was a strong and active club.

Their results appear in Hockey Field magazine of the era and invariably they won! The minute book records team selections for the Glos county teams and Miss Baker, her sister EV Baker and other Henbury players were regulars in the county teams. She also went on to be awarded her colours for the West.

It is also interesting to note the rather formal playing attire of the era – white shirt, black and white tie, club badge, black shoulder slash, black skirt with two lines and white piping. Not quite the ‘go faster’ kit of the 21st century!

Family stories also tell us that Miss M V Baker married a Mr Thompson and two of his sisters were members of Henbury LHC. Indeed one of them went on to be an England reserve.

No one seems to know why Henbury LHC did not return after WW1 but they certainly made their mark on the women’s game for the decade that they existed.


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