Tom Barlow was a prominent solicitor and amateur sportsman in South Wales during the years leading up to the Great War. Born and educated in Lancashire, he moved to Cardiff in 1881 to train as a solicitor, under JL Wheatley the town clerk. He joined the town’s cricket and rugby clubs, with his first major match for Cardiff CC coming in 1882 when he appeared in their exhibition match against the United England Eleven.
Having played a series of decent innings for Cardiff CC, and built up some useful contacts in the legal world, he was chosen by the South Wales CC in 1883 to play against both North Wales and the Bryn-y-Neuadd club in the country house matches at Llanfairfechan. Tom injured his knee during the mid-1880s but, despite this, his athletic fielding more than made up for some of the shortcomings of his older, and less mobile, colleagues in the South Wales side.
His stylish batting also drew favourable comment, and no less a judge than WG Grace invited Tom to move to the Bristol area and to qualify for Gloucestershire. With a decent job in the Welsh capital, and some influential friends in the legal world of South Wales, the young solicitor politely declined the offer and remained in Cardiff. After a series of decent performances at full-back for the Cardiff 1st XV, Tom was also chosen for Wales in April 1884 for their international against Ireland at the Arms Park.
He enjoyed a decent debut, and many thought he would be chosen again, but a bad injury, precipitated by a series of heavy tackles, swiftly ended his rugby-playing career. By the time Glamorgan were formed in 1888, cricket and golf had become the principle recreations for the go-ahead solicitor, who subsequently became a founder member of the Glamorganshire Golf Club in Penarth in 1890 as well as the Royal Porthcawl club the following year. His burgeoning career as a solicitor restricted his involvement in cricket, but through his business contacts in Cardiff, Tom was persuaded to join the Glamorgan committee in 1891.
Two years later he accepted the post of Treasurer – a position he held until 1903, before accepting a similar post with the Welsh Golfing Union in 1923. In 1894 his work commitments allowed Tom to make himself available to the county selectors, and that summer he made his county debut, fittingly in the match against the MCC at the Arms Park. The following year, Tom showed what might have been had he been available more often, by scoring an attractive 75 in the away match against Herefordshire.
Tom played regularly in 1896 as Glamorgan pressed for elevation into the Minor Championship and he opened the batting with his good friend Jack Brain in the showcase encounter at the Arms Park against Worcestershire – against whom he had also played for the South Wales club back in 1885. Tom made a composed 21 and 19, but he was one of only a few Glamorgan batsmen to emerge with any credit from the encounter as Worcestershire recorded a comfortable nine wicket victory.
Despite the reverse, Glamorgan were elevated to the Minor County Championship in 1897, and in their inaugural season, the Welsh county were pressing for top spot in the table. The wear and tear of two-day games against decent opposition had prevented Tom from appearing in the Welsh county’s line-up, but the talented batsman was drafted into the side for the vital match against Wiltshire at Swindon. However, he only made 3, before rain interrupted the contest and washed away Glamorgan’s hopes of a first title.
With his knee increasingly causing him pain when running quick singles, the match with Wiltshire in 1897 proved to be Tom’s final appearance on the field for the county club. Although he continued to serve on the Glamorgan committee until 1908, Tom enjoyed the less painful demands of playing golf, being beaten on the final green in the first Welsh Championships at Aberdovey in 1895 before winning the Welsh Amateur Championships at Porthcawl in 1900.
He was runner-up again at Rhos-on-Sea in 1903, and either side of World War One, Tom was one of the leading amateur golfers in South Wales, and served as Honorary Treasurer of the Welsh Golfing Union between 1900 and 1924, before retiring from his solicitors practice and serving as Secretary from 1925 until his death in 1942. His brother Harry, was a master at Clifton College.
BARLOW, Thomas Marriott.
Born – Pendleton, Salford, 3 November 1864.
Died – Chester, 27 January 1942.
Batting and Fielding Record
Minor County Friendlies – 75 v Herefordshire at Hereford, 1895.
Minor County Championship – 3 v Wiltshire at Swindon, 1897.