(Adapted from R.F. Davey's Original Script)
The Young Mens' Christian Association on Portland was formed at the end of the First World War in the December of 1919. It was the enthusiasm of the Reverend David Barnes-Griggs, Charles Penrose and others such as Abe Fuzzard, that provided the impetus for the Y.M.C.A.'s foundation. Regular meetings were held in Way's Tea Rooms, Easton, with the objective of raising sufficient funds so as to launch this much needed organisation on Portland. This largely inter-denominational organisation successfully raised funds, a considerable amount of which were used to purchase the main hall from the Australian detachment based over at 'Montevideo' (Chickerell). This very substantially constructed wooden hall was still giving excellent service at it's Reforne site until it was re-developed a few years ago. As an interesting aside it is still thought that the original Australian Army Crockery is still in existence on the Island (the outline of Australia printed on the crockery is unmistakable).
Portland Y.M.C.A. has, it seems, always been advantaged by its chance association with the Armed Services. The Penrose Hall, so named in memory of Charles Penrose stalwart of the Association, was erected during the Second World War on top of the Y.M.C.A. tennis courts at Reforne. Fortunately for Red Triangle the wooden hall was left for Club use after the war. With the considerable assistance of the Canon A.V. Hurley in 1947/48, Red Triangle acquired a very serviceable pavilion. This building had been standing adjacent to St. Peter's Church and was the property of the American Armed Services. By some means or other, still to be discovered, the pavilion was obtained for Club use by Canon Hurley. Steve White with many others, achieved the commendable feat of dismantling, transporting and erecting the pavilion at its present-day location (now the green storage hut).
During the early years of the Y.M.C.A.'s foundation a wide range of sporting clubs were established under the guidance of the Executive Committee: cycling, football, tennis, table-tennis, billiards and snooker were all catered for (Bill Hoskins, Chairman of Portland United Football Club, donated one of the three billiard tables still in use at Reforne). The inauguration of a Red Triangle Cricket Club completed the sporting spectrum for the Club in 1922. The initial impetus and the eventual success of the cricket club was attributed to the great zeal and enthusiasm displayed by a small group of local lads, and the unique association with stone workers from the Somerset village of Montacute, whose cricketing experience proved to be invaluable in sustaining Red Triangle in those embryonic years.
The Red Triangle C.C. has the rare distinction of being the first truly civilian cricket club to be formed on Portland. The various services based on the island did of course run teams. Cricket, for example, was played by the Verne Garrison, the Navy, Prison and after 1921, the Borstal regularly fielded an eleven. Mr. Steve White has suggested that there have been at least ten separate cricket teams that have been formed on Portland. Easton C.C. used to play at Moorfield Road until the ground was quarried. Portland Bill ran a team down on the Bill Common for several seasons and it was the normal course of events of visiting Red Triangle players to walk along the cliff path for an evening game. Weston had a team for a period, as did the R.F.A. 'Whirlwinds' team whose HQ was over at Westcliffe. Another particularly early team was Underhill who were thought to have played at the New Ground. In more recent times the 'Slingers' played in the late and early sixties on the Secondary School ground, this was before their amalgamation and eventual assimilation with Red Triangle in the 1970's.
The first officials of Red Triangle C.C. were Abe Sansom, Hon. Sec.; Dan Pearce, Treasurer and Freddy Taunton, Captain. Interestingly, Abe Sansom left Portland in 1927 to join the Shanghai Police Force. One of the early team members of Red Triangle C.C. was John "Chippy" Pearce, local quarry owner and Captain of the team in 1926. "Chippy" Pearce was of some fair age when he started to play for the Triangle, having been educated at Shebeare College, he had achieved notable cricketing honours even before the First World War. Apparently when "Chippy" played, Red Triangle were never short of a cricket ball, because John Pearce insisted on using one of his personal collection (that is one of the many cricket balls he had been presented with for achievement on the field-of-play).
Other players of the 1920's were: J.H.E. "Bradley" White, Eric Russell, Stan Comben, Harry Norrish, Alan Stone, A.H. Windost (Headmaster of Trinity School, Weymouth and possible County Cap), Fred "Mollo" Hansford, A.J. "Titch" Gould, Jim Wright, Augustus "Willow" White; Darington, Reynolds and Bye (all Coastguards at the Bill); Suffolk, Sydwell and Jewell (all from the 'Buffs'), Carline (the Underhill bank clerk), Harry Tompkins (later President of Red Triangle), A.C. Savage (later Captain of Red Triangle and three times Mayor of Dorchester), A.R. "Dimmock" Atherton, W.S. "Biff" Wiles, R.H.E. Morgan and the legendary A.V. Hurley (later Canon Hurley). As an aside, it is reputed that Jim "Togo" Wright had the greatest throwing arm of any Triangle fielder and that he could, with ease, throw the ball from where the bottom fence is today, right over the square.
It was possibly Montacute's misfortune and Portland's gain that consequential to the collapse of the Somerset 'Hamm'-Stone industry, several stone workers from Somerset moved onto the island in search of work? The Montacute men certainly inspired Red Triangle's inception. The Montacute men included: Arthur Burt, a worthy bowler of spin; Freddy Taunton, Bert Gearde, Alf "Sheena" Hann (wicket-keeper before Harry Tompkins, and Master of Ceremonies at Triangle dances), Herb Thorne - the mainstay of the Club.
There was another influx of Somerset men later on in the late twenties when the like of Bert Moon joined Triangle. There is no doubt the Somerset folk enjoyed their cricket, as of course they still do today. The Montacute men provided Triangle with the experience that the youthful Portlanders lacked. Indeed such was the strength of the bond that evolved between Portland and Montacute, that fixtures between the two teams were maintained up until 1957, well after the departure of the Montacute men from Portland in 1933. Several players have enlightened me with the stories about the annual pilgrimage to Montacute by rail. During the 1920's and 1930's to do "A little bit of shopping" after the return to Weymouth had a great deal more meaning for the supposed sober Red Triangle players than it does today!
It was quite normal for Montacute man, Herb Thorne, to take at least half the wickets and score most of the runs during the first few seasons. The entire playing gear was bought for the sum of five pounds from a Regiment leaving the Verne. Interestingly, players used the bat with only the left leg padded, thus creating a surplus of unused right-leg pads. Not many players sporting cricket 'whites' were to be seen in those days, but those that did had to change down in the main hall, where the cricket gear was kept in a large wooden box.
There being no pavilion, scoring as in 1947, was conducted on the grass in front of the Railway Cottages. These austere conditions existed until the erection of the first wooden pavilion in 1925/26. This second-hand building was apparently very commodious and was sited mid-way along the northern boundary. This pavilion rendered good service throughout the thirties and was only pulled down in 1946/47. One major attribute of the first pavilion was the innovation of a scoring box with push-up flap front. A somewhat novel development of that time was the awarding of just two runs for a four along the more shorter stretches of the boundary.