I had lunch at the Queen's Head in Billesdon today a pleasant Marston's pub. The village trail leaflet tells an interesting story about it:
In the late 19th century, the landlord of the Queen’s Head was Tom Plumb, the famous All-England wicket-keeper of the 1860s, described by W.G. Grace as ‘about the best wicket-keeper of his time.’
He coached two Billesdon players who went on to play for Leicestershire: spin bowler William Finney and fast bowler Arthur Woodcock. Woodcock achieved a national reputation as the fastest bowler in England, and his Wisden obituary opined: ‘how much Leicestershire’s promotion to the first-class [in 1894] was due to his bowling is a matter of history.’Grace wrote about him at some length:
Thomas Plumb was born at Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, 26th July, 1833. His height was 5 ft. 10 in.; weight, 12 St. As a wicket-keeper he was not considered quite up to Lockyer or Pooley's form, although I cannot account for it; possibly it was owing to his connection with Buckinghamshire, whose position as a county was not first-class.
I am inclined to believe if he had had greater opportunities for displaying his powers, or if he had been connected with a crack county, he would have taken quite as high a position as either of the famous pair I have just mentioned. Anyhow, I am convinced that he was a great deal better than he was thought, and about the best wicket keeper of his time against fast bowling.
His style was quick and neat, without the slightest show; and while as keen as anyone, he never kept knocking off the bails uselessly as I have seen others do.And you can find Tom Plumb's career record on Cricket Archive.
But there is a sad story about him which did not make my trail leaflet. You will find it in his obituary in the 1905 Wisden:
The death took place on March 29th of the once-famous wicket-keeper Tom Plumb. For some years he had been in very poor circumstances, and he passed away in the workhouse at Northampton.
People moaned about Kerry Packer and Tony Greig, but the improvement they secured in the lot of cricketers means that it is many years since I have heard of a wicket-keeper (even one from an 'unfashionable' county) entering the workhouse.
I did once see Bruce French selling matches in Worksop marketplace though.