Willington is a small town seven miles south west of Durham City and four miles north of Bishop Auckland.
The earliest evidence for occupation in the area dates to the Bronze Age; a bronze axe of this date was found at Nackshivan. However, it is possible that the flint tools found elsewhere in the parish may have been of earlier, Mesolithic date, belonging to the earliest hunter-gatherer groups who may have lived in this area.
Farming developed in the Neolithic and Bronze Age period and by the end of the Iron Age there was probably a landscape of small fields amongst which stood farmsteads surrounded by a palisade and a ditch. It is in this area Willington Cricket Club would soon prevail albeit in a couple of thousand years.
No one knows when or where cricket began in the area but there is a body of evidence, much of it circumstantial, that strongly suggests the game was devised during Saxon or Norman times by children living in an area of dense woodlands and clearings close to Willington Woods.
[1] It is generally believed that cricket survived as a children's game for many generations before it was increasingly taken up by jealous frustrated adults around the beginning of the 17th century.
medieval bowling green game
Possibly cricket was derived from bowls, assuming bowls is the older sport.
There is strong circumstantial evidence the children of Willington were already becoming incredibly adapt at hiding in strategic locations with a large plank of wood. By the intervention of a “Batsman” the children would leap from their hidings and smash the elderly “Bowlers” ball into the surrounding woods of Brancepeth. Playing on sheep-grazed land or in clearings, the original implements may have been a matted lump of sheep’s wool (or even a stone or a small lump of wood) as the ball and the children would use a tree stump as a bat.
The population of Willington increased from 258 in 1841 to 965 in 1851. This was because of the rise of the coal mining industry in the area. New facilities were required for the miners and their families.
Following their ancestors a requirement was placed on a Co-Operative to open Cricket Facilities. In 1904 Willington Cricket Club was established. The old pavilion still stands to this day.
The club has invested in significant development over the last decade to create a beautiful ground to play and watch cricket.