West Indies in England, 1923 © Getty Images Back, from left: Joe Small, Victor Pascall, Joseph Holt, R Mallett (manager), Raymond Phillips, Maurice Fernandes, Clarence Hunter, George John. Middle, from left: George Dewhurst, ‘Snuffy’ Browne, George Challenor, Harold Austin, Karl Nunes, Percy Tarilton. Front, from left: George Francis, Learie Constantine, Harry Ince.
West Indies in England, 1923 © Getty Images
Back, from left: Joe Small, Victor Pascall, Joseph Holt, R Mallett (manager), Raymond Phillips, Maurice Fernandes, Clarence Hunter, George John.
Middle, from left: George Dewhurst, ‘Snuffy’ Browne, George Challenor, Harold Austin, Karl Nunes, Percy Tarilton.
Front, from left: George Francis, Learie Constantine, Harry Ince.

The school is 272 years old as on date and has the motto Possunt Quia Posse Videntur. Freely translated, it means “they can because they think they can”. The name has been through several avatars through the years: Codrington College, The College, The Mansion School, the Codrington Grammar School, The Codrington Foundation School, Codrington Collegiate School, Codrington Endowed School, Codrington Lodge Grammar School and The Lodge Collegiate School. It was only in 1882 that the name was finally settled as The Lodge School, in grateful memory of the Chaplain’s Lodge where some of the classes used to be held in the early history of the institution.

Situated at Society, St. John, Bridgetown, Barbados, the school has, over the years, produced some of the most influential Parliamentarians and the cream among the cricketers for Barbados. In Cricket Nurseries of Colonial Barbados: The Elite Schools, 1865-1966, Keith Sandiford enumerates the names of several students of the school that have all had sterling performances for their alma mater. He singles out one name for special mention, Percy Tarilton, known universally as ‘Tim’.

Percy Hamilton Tarilton, of European descent, was born on February 8, 1885 at St Margaret’s, St John, Barbados. His cricketing ability began to manifest when he first turned out for The Lodge in 1896-97, a slip of boy, about 11 years old, establishing a Barbadian record for being the youngest cricketer to appear in the First-Division cricket tournaments of the country (the record was later equalled by Clyde Walcott). For the next seven years, till 1903-04, right-handed batsman Tarilton would prove to be the pivot of the School team.

In 1897, at the age of only 12, Tarilton, small of build and frail of appearance, had played an innings of 10 against Spartan at Belleville that had lasted almost an hour, displaying remarkable reserves of courage, patience, and technique in one so young, and all in a losing cause. From all contemporary accounts, patience has always been the keynote of Tarilton’s batting. Combined patience with solid technique and a wide array of stylish strokes, he gradually developed into an archetypal opening batsman and formed a celebrated opening combination with the more assertive George Challenor.

Challenor and Tarilton gained fame as the most formidable opening partnership in Barbadian cricket history prior to the advent of Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes. Indeed, the combination of Tarilton and Challenor was to hold sway in West Indian and Barbadian cricket from 1905 to 1930, and would earn a well-deserved reputation of being very difficult to separate. 

The first cricket match in which Tarilton’s name appears on the scorecard was between Barbados and a combination team from St Vincent and St Lucia, played at Bridgetown in 1905, won by Barbados by an innings and 11 runs. Interestingly, Tarilton is shown to not only have opened the innings (scoring 68), but also to have kept wickets in the game. 

It was in his next game, another Second-Class game against the same opponents at the same venue soon afterwards, that we first come across the opening pair of Tarilton (53) and Challenor (55) in the Barbados first innings.

Tarilton’s First-Class debut came about later in the same season when he played for Barbados against British Guiana (BG) at Port-of-Spain later that season, as part of the Inter-Colonial Tournament. It was a stroke of genius on the part of Providence to have both Tarilton and Challenor, later to become two of the veritable pillars of Barbados of later years, making their respective debuts in the same game. They opened in both innings and were both run out in the second knock. Perhaps a combination of all these factors had made it easy for them form a bond early in their respective careers. It is merely of academic interest that Barbados had won the game by 65 runs, Challenor scoring 20 and 34 and Tarilton contributing 2 and 4. This pair was to be the scourge of bowlers all over the Caribbean Islands for the next 21 years, being instrumental in some almost surreal feats in 1927, but more of that later.

In a First-Class career spread over 24 years, from 1905-06 to 1929-30 (interrupted, of course, by World War I), Tarilton played 51 matches. He scored 2,777 runs with a highest of 304* and an average of 38.56 (perfectly acceptable at the time). He had 8 centuries and 9 fifties, and held 33 catches, adding 5 stumpings to his cricket CV.

In the meanwhile, playing for Pickwick against Spartan in 1911, Tarilton scored 210*, the highest individual score achieved in Caribbean First-Division cricket till then. This record, however, was short-lived, and was surpassed four years later by Eric Collymore playing for Harrison College. 

Tarilton donned the mantle of the captaincy for Barbados in 17 First-Class matches from 1910-11 to 1929-30. It was in his second match as captain, against Trinidad at Georgetown that he came agonisingly close to his maiden First-Class century, being dismissed for 99. However, he had the satisfaction of leading his team to victory by an innings and 48 runs. 

A 13-member English team (their seventh to tour the West Indies) under the leadership of the 57-year-old wicketkeeper Arthur Somerset arrived at Barbados aboard the RMS Magdalena in 1912-13 for a 9-match tour. The party consisted of 10 amateurs and three experienced professionals in Albert Relf, Sydney Smith, and ‘Razor’ Smith. In their second match of the tour they faced Barbados, for whom skipper Tarilton (157) and Challenor (109) both scored hundreds. Barbados won by an innings and 10 runs. 

Normalcy was restored after the War and cricket resumed in the Caribbean Islands. An early match after the War between Barbados and Trinidad in 1919-20 was an important one in the history of West Indian cricket. Challenor scored 104 in a first-wicket stand of 180. Tarilton remained undefeated at 304 when the innings was declared at 623 for 5 scored at 4.80 an over. With this innings, Tarilton became the first batsman to score a First-Class triple century in West Indies. His 304* was to remain the highest individual score by a West Indian batsman for the next 24 years until Frank Worrell went past it with his 308* against Trinidad at Bridgetown on 1944-43.

CLR James was all praise for Tarilton’s batting skills, naming him the best West Indian batsman till 1923, when Challenor came into his own as the pre-eminent West Indian batsman during the West Indian tour of England. 

Harold Austin seems to have been the prime mover in getting a West Indies team together after the conclusion of the Inter-Colonial Tournament of 1922-23. The focus was a tour of England in 1923, and preparations began in September 1922. It was 17 years since the last West Indies team had toured England in 1906. Only two of the members of that team, Austin himself and George Challenor, were in the squad of 16 players, mainly from the premier Colonies of Barbados (5), British Guiana (3), Trinidad (5), and Jamaica (3) .One surprising omission from the list of 16 was Wilton St Hill, celebrated in James’ Beyond a Boundary. The team reached Southampton at the end of April. 

The tourists played 28 matches in England overall, 20 of them being of First-Class status. Inclement weather in the early part of the tour had resulted in the loss of valuable match practice in English conditions for the tourists, the majority of whom were touring England for the first time. The undoubted champion batsman for the tourists proved to be Challenor, coming from a rich and influential family, and one of seven cricket-playing brothers.

On his second tour to England, Challenor played in all the games and scored 1,967 runs. The other batsman to top 1,000 runs on the tour was Joe Small (1,169). In the First-Class games Challenor had a tally of 1,556 runs at an average of 51.86. He scored 6 centuries and 8 fifties. He had consecutive centuries against Oxford and Essex, and had a wonderful seven days in August during which he scored centuries against Gloucestershire, Surrey, and Glamorgan. He was granted honorary membership by MCC though he was unable to complete the qualifying procedures. The 1923 tour by the West Indies team in England was to be the last in which the best player was to be a white man. 

By comparison, 38-year-old Tarilton had a very moderate series, scoring 554 runs from his 17 First-Class games, with one century and an average of 21.30. The bowling successes of the tour were George Francis (102 wickets in all matches and 82 in First-Class games) and George John (100 and 49). Others with more than 50 wickets in the First-Class games were ‘Snuffy’ Browne (75) and Victor Pascall, maternal uncle of Learie Constantine (52 wickets). 

MCC thought it fit to raise a 14-member team to tour The Caribbean in 1925-26 for 12 First-Class matches under the captaincy of Freddie Calthorpe. The first of these games was played at Bridgetown against Barbados. Barbados, under Tarilton, won a relatively easy victory by an innings and 73 runs, riding on a masterful century by Challenor (124) and excellent bowling from Herman Griffith (5 for 54 and 4 for 42) and Francis (3 for 35 and 6 for 21). Tarilton scored only 5 but contributed in the field by making a stumping and holding 3 catches in first innings.

Young Wally Hammond was the undoubted star of the match between a West Indies team and MCC at Bridgetown with a magnificent 238* in a drawn game. The next game, played at Bridgetown in the following week, was also a drawn affair. Tarilton made a mark in this game with 178, passing the personal landmark of 2,000 runs in the process. Although MCC followed on, the game remained inconclusive. In the following season, Barbados were to set tongues wagging again with some unprecedented feats in the history of First-Class cricket in West Indies. 

BG were bowled out for 265 in an Inter-Colonial match of 1926-27 at Bridgetown. Then Tarilton (120) and Challenor (104) both scored centuries. One-drop batsman Teddy Hoad (115) then made it three in a row. To rub the salt deeply into the pride of BG, No. 9 batsman Allan Browne (brother of ‘Snuffy’) remained not out on 131. The innings closed at 715 for 9 declared. This was the first instance of the 700-run mark being breached by any team in the history of First-Class cricket in the West Indies. BG were bowled out for 336.

The next match Barbados played was against Trinidad, also at Bridgetown, in what was to be the Final of the tournament. Perhaps they were suffering from a hangover of their stupendous deeds of the previous game, but Barbados were soon brought down to earth in no uncertain manner when they were dismissed for 175. Trinidad responded with 559. 

Trinidad skipper Frederick Grant had every reason to feel satisfied with the way the game was progressing. The first shadow of worry for Grant was the fact that the home team ended Day Three on 223 for no loss, with Tarilton on 93 and Challenor on 115.

The first home wicket fell at the total of 292 when Tarilton (123) was run out. Challenor extended his individual innings to 220. Hoad remained not out on 174, and Barbados ended the fifth day on 715 for 6. There was no play on the sixth day of the match, and the home team finally declared on the seventh at 726 for 7, having improved on the record set in the previous game. Tarilton, Challenor, and Hoad had all contributed centuries in both the iconic totals. Browne, as mentioned earlier, had scored a century of his own in the previous game.

With the hopes created by the large first-innings lead completely shattered, Trinidad were, being dismissed for 217 on the eighth day. Barbados won the title.

By now, Tarilton was 42 and nearing the end of his long career. 1926-27 was to be last full season of First-Class cricket for him. Retirement from active cricket may well have been on his mind. Fate, however, capricious as always, had another plan in mind for him. 

West Indies, having been granted Test status in 1928, were to host the first Test-playing tour by England, the eighth overall by an English team (the first tour being in 1894-95). The 14-man England party was led by Calthorpe and arrived in the Caribbean on December 27, 1930 on SS Carare. Later on the tour, reserve wicketkeeper and vice-captain Rony Stanyforth had to return to England, being replaced by Fred Price. 

MCC played two games in Barbados, the second of which was to be the last First-Class match played by Tarilton. Hoad was the skipper of Barbados, with Tarilton carrying out wicketkeeping duties. He scored a modest 20 from the middle-order. In the second, however, he shared a first-innings stand of 261 with Hoad (147) and himself scoring 105. Barbados scored 378 for 6 when time ran out in the drawn game, allowing Tarilton to go out of the game he loved with his head held high.

The archives show Percy Tarilton as having scored 1,885 runs for Barbados from 28 matches at an average of 53.85. The mark of 1,885 runs was to remain a record for Barbados until it was surpassed 21 years later by Walcott. Percy Tarilton had a cricket playing brother, Arthur, who played only a First-Class match for Jamaica.

The final curtain came down on this patient and skilful cricketer on February 18m 1953, at the age of 68, at Bayville, in his beloved Barbados.