Keen cricketer led the way in scoring system
CRICKET lover John Atkinson Pendlington was one of life’s all-rounders. He was one of the founders of a pioneering Tyneside electrical company, a noted Shakespearean scholar, and is described as both an engineer and an accountant.
He played for Benwell cricket club and in 1893 invented the revolutionary linear method of scoring the game.
“It is the way cricket is scored at first-class level today,” said David Cook, former Newcastle University lecturer, city councillor and Lord Mayor in 2019-20, and who himself has played for the Benwell club and written its history.
Now a city council plaque to John Pendlington will be unveiled on December 15 at the Centre for Sport, West Road, Newcastle, which is the site of one of the Benwell club’s grounds from 1886 to 1921.
“John Pendlington was obviously a clever and successful chap,” said David, whose book The Many Pavilions reflects the seven grounds that have over the years been the homes of the Benwell cricketers.
“He is the inventor of the most significant system of recording in any sport and only after many years later is starting to receive the proper credit for it.”
The unveiling will be attended by John’s great grandson Bob Pendlington, who lives on Tyneside.
John Pendlington was born in South Shields in 1861 and played for the Tyne Dock cricket club, and later for Benwell in the Northumberland League.
His linear system showed balls faced by each batsman from each bowler, allowing the following of the progress of a match ball by ball.
It was the penultimate fixture of the 1893 Ashes tour, played at
Scarborough, that allowed the 32-year-old Pendlington to perfect his linear system.
The 953 runs scored over the three days saw him making copious entries in his scoring book. He presented his scoring sheet to the legendary cricketer WG Grace, who was also at the match. Its current location is unknown.
Pendlington initially worked for the Harton Coal Company in South Shields and went on to be one of two partners who set up the Tyneside Electrical Supply Company in 1893.
It supplied electrical equipment to industrial users in the North East and also acted as a purchasing company for one of the first organisations in the world to cut coal by electricity, the Electrical Coal Cutting Contract Corporation.
It became the British Electrical and Manufacturing Company (Bemco) in 1908.
Bemco supplied electrical materials, mainly to collieries, shipyards, steel works and railways. These included lamps, signalling equipment specially made to mining and railway requirements, switchgear, black adhesive tape, knife switches and cables of all types, including the first trailing cables used in the pits.
Pendlington died at the age of 52 in 1914 at his home in Farholme Road, Benwell. His obituary in the Newcastle Daily Chronicle described him as “exceedingly fond of the game of cricket. He conceived the idea of a score book which would record the result of every ball bowled.”
He is buried at St James Church in Benwell.
David Cook’s research shows that the first identifiable match played by the Benwell club was reported by The Journal in 1868, at a time when Benwell was a rural village with a population of below 1,000 on the edge of Newcastle.
It was also discovered that the only Test cricketer to be born in Newcastle, Arnold James Fothergill, turned out for Benwell.