POW camp, concert venue, cricket ground... the remarkable history of The Oval

The Oval is one of the most famous cricket grounds in the world, and will shortly be hosting its 100th Test Match. But the home of Surrey CC has enjoyed a lively existence of the years, as you will soon discover... 

The Oval will make history this summer by becoming only the fourth ground in the world to have hosted 100 Test Matches when England play South Africa on 27 July.

Since it first opened in 1845, the Oval’s story has been packed with iconic British sporting, historical and cultural moments. Here are 13 of the key moments that have made up the Oval’s remarkable journey on the way to 100 Tests.

1851: Just six years after opening, the Oval is in grave danger of being replaced by housing. With its future in the balance, it is only the intervention of Prince Albert, a recent cricketing convert, which saves the ground.

1872: The Oval hosts the first FA Cup Final (won by Wanderers FC). A year later the ground plays host to England’s first recognised football international against Scotland.

1876: Continuing the theme of sporting firsts, the first England vs Wales & England vs Scotland Rugby internationals to be played on English soil take place at the Oval.

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1880: With Football and Rugby out of the way, it is now time for the Gentleman’s game as the first Test Match played on English soil sees England defeat Australia. 

1882: An England defeat at the hands of Australia prompts the printing of an obituary in The Sporting Times, and the birth of one of the most iconic sporting rivalries in the world: The Ashes.

1938: Len Hutton scores 364 runs in an innings, a record by an English Test batsman that still stands.

1944: As World War Two rages, the Oval is set up as a transit camp for Prisoners of War.

1948: Don Bradman, the finest batsman of all time, scores a duck in his final innings, leaving his Test career average at 99.94.

1953: The crowd floods the Oval pitch to salute Bill Edrich and Denis Compton as England regain the Ashes for the first time since 1933.

1971: The Oval becomes one of the first sporting grounds to host a rock concert as 30,000 fans pour into the South London venue to enjoy a raucous concert by The Who. 

1992: American philanthropist John Paul Getty Jr. becomes so enchanted by cricket after being introduced to the sport by his friend Mick Jagger, that he builds a replica of the Oval on his Wormsley Estate.

1997: As any self-respecting Britain would, Sir John Major spends the day after his 1997 General Election defeat watching cricket. Theresa May is also a regular visitor, while Sadiq Khan was an Oval steward as a teenager.

2005: The greatest Test series of modern times reaches its climax on 12 September 2005. Kevin Pietersen's 158 ensured England drew with Australia and won the Ashes 2-1, regaining the urn after 18 years.