The death of Frank Shipston marked the close of a major chapter in the history of Nottinghamshire cricket. He was the last survivor of the 1929 side which won the County Championship under Carr’s captaincy. Ironically. or perhaps fittingly, he died in July 2005, the year in which his home County secured another Championship title.
Frank Shipston was born in Bulwell on 31 July 1906. His father was at that time a member of the Notts playing staff but, unlike his son, Frank snr never appeared in a First-Class match for the county. During the First World War, the family moved due to Frank snr’s job as a miner, to North Yorkshire – a number of the collieries in Yorkshire were under the same ownership as those in Nottinghamshire.
Frank followed his father into the mining industry - cricket and mining were inter-related, particularly in Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire. The Shipston family knew the Whysalls – Dodge Whysall was the Notts opening batsman from the early 1920s and Whysall saw promise in young Frank’s cricketing ability. He recommended Frank to the Notts coach. After a trial, Frank junior was offered and accepted a three year contract, commencing May 1925.
Notts Seconds were at the time members of the Minor Counties Championship; Shipston opened the batting for the team in that competition during 1925 and, of the regular players, came second in the batting table. This success resulted in his first-class debut for Notts, he replaced Willis Walker for the final Championship game.
1926 saw him appear quite often in the First Eleven during the latter part of the summer and press comment predicted a bright future for him. With veterans George Gunn, Whysall, Walker, Carr and Payton all in good health and form during 1927, Shipston was confined to the Seconds where he topped the batting averages. A similar state of affairs continued through the next three seasons. It seemed as if the long-serving stars would never retire. Shipston made just fleeting appearances when England call-ups or occasional injury created a temporary vacancy.
The start of the 1930s decade at last seemed to open a window. For Shipston however it was not to be, a new trio of younger batsmen – Hardstaff, Keeton and Harris – were in the wings. In June 1932 he was given Charlie Harris’ place for the game versus Hampshire at Trent Bridge and hit a century. The game is celebrated as the ‘Centurions Match’ - all eleven Notts players had first-class hundreds under their belts. Shipston was awarded his County Cap.
In July 1933, when he still had eighteen months of a three year contract to run, Shipston was offered a job by Captain Popkess with the Nottingham City Police. Popkess was trying to create an outstanding Police cricket team. Shipston took the job. During the final years of the 1930s, the City Police side was one of the dominant teams in the Notts & Derbys Border League; aside from Shipston, it contained four other county players.
Soon after the war he became frustrated with the increasing red tape engulfing the police and left the Force when another job opportunity occurred.
He also rejoined Langwith Colliery CC, his club when he joined the Trent Bridge staff, as a semi-pro. Later he went as a pro to Carr Fastener in Stapleford.
In 1956 he successfully applied to join the First-Class umpires’ list. Virtually all the umpires at that time had come almost directly from playing cricket on to the list whereas Shipston had left the First-Class game 23 years earlier. He just wasn’t one of the clan and retired after one season. Shipston became involved in the coaching of young players at Trent Bridge in 1957 and then succeeded Jim Parks as the official First Team coach for the 1959 season. He retired from that position at the close of the 1965 season. In his retirement he ran a newsagents in Nuttall Road, Nottingham, and for a number of years was an umpire for Notts Amateurs CC.
In his later years Frank Shipston lived at the home of his son, Peter, in Wollaton - Peter had played for Notts in the Minor Counties Championship of 1959 and 1960 - and took a great interest in the current cricket scene. Frank Shipston died in Wollaton on July 6 2005 aged 98. Of all Nottinghamshire cricketers, only Willis Walker reached a greater age.
His record in First-Class cricket matches reads: 49 matches, 73 inns, 8no, 1,183 runs, 118no highest score, at an average of 18.48.
Nottinghamshire First-Class Number: 333