Bertie Turnbull, a member of the well-known ship-owning family at Cardiff Docks, played for Glamorgan four times either side of the Great War, besides playing once for Gloucestershire, as well as appearing for the Great Britain hockey side during the 1908 Olympics.
However, Bertie’s greatest achievement from a Glamorgan perspective was persuading his nephew Maurice Turnbull to take over the captaincy of the Welsh county and transforming the Club from a shamefaced debtor, lurching from one defeat to another into one with a decent profit and a position in the top half of the Championship table.
His intervention – in his guise as Glamorgan’s Chairman – came about during 1929 after yet another dreadful season, and a summer when the captaincy was shared around amongst a small cabal of amateurs. Maurice had also received a decent offer to work in the City of London and, with his nephew being the mainstay of the Glamorgan batting, his departure was a potential hammer blow for the Club.
Aware of his decent record captaining the Cambridge University XI, Bertie had a quiet word in his nephew’s ear to see if the offer of the county captaincy would make him stay in South Wales. Maurice answered in the affirmative, and – not wanting to be accused of nepotism – Bertie arranged for his nephew to have a short trial as captain during the closing games in August 1929. It proved to be a resounding success and neither the Club, or Maurice, looked back.
In his youth, Bertie had been a talented sportsman, playing rugby, cricket and hockey for both Penarth and his school, Downside, the famous Catholic public school run by Benedictine Monks to the south of Bath. Hockey was the sport in which he really excelled and in 1907 Bertie followed his cousin Bernard into the Welsh hockey side, playing in goal against England at Llandudno. Bertie was an outstanding goalkeeper and a fine captain as well, leading Cardiff Hockey Club in 1909/10. Both Bernard and Bertie won selection in the Welsh line-up for the game against Ireland which staged at Shepherd`s Bush in London as part of the 1908 Olympic Games. Although they were defeated by 3 goals to 1, they won the bronze medal, and were able to proudly tell their offspring that they had taken part in the Olympic tournament. In all Bertie played nineteen times for the Welsh hockey side and acted as their captain during 1914
Bertie was also a hard-hitting batter and occasional wicket-keeper for both Penarth CC and Cardiff CC whilst in 1911 he made his debut for Glamorgan against Carmarthenshire at Swansea, as well as keeping wicket for Gloucestershire in their friendly against Cambridge University at Fenner’s. But he only made three further appearances for the Welsh county over the course of the next ten years. His work for his father’s ship-owning business at Cardiff Docks, including brief spells overseas, was the main reason why he did not appear again for Glamorgan until 1914 when he was chosen for the match against Monmouthshire at the Arms Park.
The Great War meant Bertie’s next games at county level did not occur until August 1920 when he appeared at Swansea against both the MCC and Carmarthenshire. He continued to play club cricket for Cardiff, besides leading Cardiff Hockey Club, as well as joining the Glamorgan committee in 1922. The previous August, Bertie and his brother Cyril had diversified their business interests by founding Turnbulls (Cardiff) Ltd., a coal merchant’s business, based in the Merchant`s Exchange at the Bute Docks, before creating Turnbull Coal and Shipping Company, following the purchase of steamships from Norway, France and Canada – three of the destinations to which they had sent coal.
Bertie also served as Director of the British Steamship Owners Association, but the trade slump of the early 1930`s hit his company very hard, and with dwindling orders, he and his brother sold their vessels, as in April 1937, Turnbull Coal and Shipping Company was wound up. Bertie, who lived with his wife at Southerndown House, continued to serve as Glamorgan Chairman until 1939 before overseeing the formation of an Emergency Committee to oversee the running of the Club during the Second World War.
Sadly, four years later he was taken ill and he died in St. Winifred’s Hospital in Canton, Cardiff during mid-November 1943.
TURNBULL, Bertrand (‘Bertie’).
Born – Cardiff, 19 April 1887.
Died – Canton, Cardiff, 17 November 1943.
Batting and Fielding Record
Career best performances
Minor County Championship – 12 v Carmarthenshire at St .Helen’s, Swansea, 1911.
Minor County Friendly – 45 v Carmarthenshire at St. Helen’s, Swansea, 1920.