The son of a Devon-born draper, Gilbert Rattenbury was born and raised in Cardiff before his parents moved back across the Severn Estuary to open new premises in Bristol. After completing his studies, Gilbert became an insurance broker besides showing great promise as a fast bowler and free-hitting batsman for the Schoolmasters club in Bristol.
As a result, July 1899 saw him play for Gloucestershire 2nd XI against Monmouthshire at Bristol but he bagged a pair and failed to take a wicket. Nevertheless, he continued to impress for the Schoolmasters and during June 1902 Gilbert made his County Championship debut for Gloucestershire against Worcestershire at the Ashley Down ground. Once again, he failed to claim a wicket, and after a first innings duck, he got off the mark with the bat scoring 7 when batting for a second time.
Gilbert was not called upon again for seven years by Gloucestershire and during this time, he mixed playing in club cricket in Bristol and Cardiff, with a series of appearances for Glamorgan in the Minor County Championship. He marked his debut for the county of his birth by taking 7/37 in Berkshire’s second innings of their game at the Cardiff Arms Park in July 1905. The following month Gilbert took six second innings wickets in the return game at Reading having also picked up a ‘six-for’ against Durham at the Arms Park.
He subsequently became a regular face in the Welsh county’s line-up during the next couple of seasons, and against Durham at the Arms Park during July 1906, he displayed his batting talents with a muscular half-century. Despite his success in club cricket in Bristol, Gilbert was only able to play on an occasional basis for Glamorgan during 1907 and 1908, with Gloucestershire showing a renewed interest in the lively seam bowler, with the county’s selectors recalling him in mid-July 1909 for the match against the Australian tourists at Bristol. The game duly saw him take his maiden wicket as he bowled Victor Trumper, but he bagged a pair again and was not called up again to play for the West Country side.
A fortnight later, Gilbert returned to Minor County action with Glamorgan, before making a further six appearances in 1910. But the following year he was promoted to the role of manager in an insurance business in King’s Norton, a suburb of Birmingham. He duly joined Moseley CC and played during 1911 for Warwickshire 2nd XI, claiming four wickets and top-scoring with 46 in the away match against Leicestershire 2nd XI at Aylestone Road.
With Glamorgan pressing for honours in the 1912 Minor County Championship, Gilbert made three further appearances for the Welsh county, in their home and away fixtures with Staffordshire, as well as the contest with Surrey 2nd XI. However, he went wicketless in each game and did little of note with the bat in what proved to be his final appearances in inter-county matches.
Two years later, Gilbert was on the move again as he was promoted to a branch in Liverpool. However, the outbreak of the Great War brought a temporary halt to his cricketing activities as he served as a Lance-Corporal in the 5th Regiment of the King’s Liverpool Regiment. He survived the horrors of the War and was back playing again for Northern CC for whom Gilbert was a regular in 1921 in their 1st XI in the Liverpool and District Competition. His heart though still lay in South Wales, and in 1923 Gilbert secured a transfer back to Cardiff where he continued to play for the city club as well as for the Glamorgan Club and Ground XI until 1930.
RATTENBURY, Gilbert Leach.
Born – Cardiff, 28 February 1878.
Died – Penarth, 14 August 1958.
Batting and Fielding Record
Minor County Championship – 55 v Durham at Cardiff Arms Park, 1906 and 7/37 v Berkshire at Cardiff Arms Park, 1905.
Minor County Friendlies – 36 v Worcestershire at Cardiff Arms Park, 1910 and 1/9 v Somerset at Cardiff Arms Park, 1910.