Obituary: J. M. Kilburn

James Maurice Kilburn, journalist: born 8 July 1909; married (one son, two daughters); died 28 August 1993.

IF LANCASHIRE had the young Neville Cardus then Yorkshire had JM Kilburn. The careers of the two writers overlapped sufficiently for them to be considered of an era although the two were totally dissmiliar in style, conviction and ambition. Cardus wrote about art, Kilburn wrote about cricket, both provided an invaluable reflection of English life before the last war.

Cardus was an unashamed romantic, given to rhapsodic flights whether praising Mahler or Makepeace and cheerfully confessing to a little embroidery of case or character. Kilburn, a former schoolmaster invited first to contribute on cricket by the Yorkshire Post, then appointed Cricket Correspondent, a position he held for 30 years, could never have condoned the slightest inaccuracy.

He first reported Yorkshire cricket at the start of one of that county's outstanding periods when the team, under Brian Sellers, won the Championship on seven occasions in the 1930s. Kilburn's especial favourites were Hedley Verity, Bill Bowes and the young Len Hutton and it is through his writings that these three in particular have become better known, the flesh and blood behind the figures.

The Yorkshire press box of his time was a forbidding place. Not only the Yorkshire Post but four other Yorkshire newspapers posted permanent correspondents to the team and a young reporter appearing for the first time was tolerated only on a 'speak when you are spoken to' basis. Hutton confirmed that a similar regime existed in Sellers' dressing-room.

Kilburn was a tall, spare figure, gruff-voiced, who proved to be, on better acquaintance, a shy man. He wrote long hand, drawing on his considerable experience of club cricket and an intuitive perception of the nuances of the game. His copy would be telephoned to Leeds by a young man hired for the occasion and Kilburn and company would then set off to catch the train.

On one occasion, late in his career, when Dr Beeching had so reduced the train services that it was impossible to make a connection after the end of play, he left before the end, his readers being informed of the reason when they read his dispatch.

One of his most memorable pieces recorded Yorkshire's last victory before the outbreak of war in 1939, a win at Hove that confirmed another Championship. With train and bus services disrupted and German bombers expected, the team slept overnight in a pub lounge in the Midlands and eventually struggled back into City Square, Leeds, where, Kilburn noted, for once letting emotion peep, a great team broke up never to meet again.

Jim Kilburn was also a founder member of the Cricket Writers Club, becoming a long-serving secretary, chairman and an Honorary Life Member. When Yorkshire opened their new Press Box at Headingley five years ago Kilburn performed the ceremony and on Sunday Headingley's flags flew at half-mast. He is the only journalist to be elected a Life Member by Yorkshire.

His essays, such as 'Overthrows' and 'In Search of Cricket' are part of the game's literature. All his work will be valued as an accurate insight into social attitudes in the first half of this century. Jim Kilburn intended always to write about cricket but in fact he told us all so much more.

(Photograph omitted)

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Business Support - Banking - Halifax - £250 pd

£150 - £250 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - HR - Halifax - £150 - £250...

Geography Teacher

£24000 - £33600 per annum + pre 12 week AWR : Randstad Education Manchester Se...

Marketing Executive

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Charter Selection: A professional services company ...

Project Manager - Bristol South West

£400 - £450 per day: Orgtel: Project Manager (PM), Key Banking Client, Retail ...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn