Julien Cahn

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Julien Cahn
Personal information
Full name Sir Julien Cahn
Born (1882-10-21)21 October 1882
Cardiff, Glamorgan, Wales
Died 26 September 1944(1944-09-26) (aged 61)
Nottinghamshire, England
Batting style Right-handed batsman
Bowling style Right-arm slow
Role He owned the sides he played in
Domestic team information
Years Team
1929–1935 Sir Julien Cahn's XI
First-class debut 21 February 1929 Sir J Cahn's XI v Jamaica
Last First-class 3 September 1935 Sir J Cahn's XI v Lancashire
Career statistics
Competition First-class
Matches 6
Runs scored 70
Batting average 10.00
100s/50s -/-
Top score 17
Balls bowled 145
Wickets 2
Bowling average 74.50
5 wickets in innings
10 wickets in match
Best bowling 1–1
Catches/stumpings -/-
Source: CricketArchive, 6 Jul 2008

Sir Julien Cahn, 1st Baronet (21 October 1882, Cardiff – 26 September 1944, Nottinghamshire) was an entrepreneur, philanthropist and supporter of cricket.

His cricket XI[edit]

Cahn inherited a fortune from his father and apart from his various business interests which included the development of a Hire Purchase concern largely devoted his life to sport and philanthropy. He was an avid cricket supporter and founded the Sir Julien Cahn XI which he captained and played for. The Cahn XI went on many tours, including those to:

  • Jamaica – 1929,
  • Argentina – 1930,
  • Denmark and Jutland – 1932, (see also R. P. Keigwin – who helped organise this tour)
  • Canada, U.S.A. and Bermuda – 1933,
  • Ceylon, Malaya and Singapore – 1937
  • New Zealand – 1939.

Cahn was twice President of the Nottinghamshire club and he personally defrayed the cost of building new stands at Trent Bridge; he also provided a covered practice area, thus allowing county players to keep in training during the winter months.

As well his interest in playing he also represented Leicestershire on the Advisory County Cricket Committee and attended the meetings at Lord's dealing with the post-war plans. In addition to his cricket interest he was a keen hunter and was variously the Master of the Burton Woodland, Pytchley and Fernie Hunts.

Family background[edit]

Cahn's father was a Jewish immigrant from Germany who before World War I founded the Nottingham Furnishing Company, a huge business. Cahn, seeing a new potential market in hire purchase sales, expanded the company to the extent that his Jays and Campbells stores were to be found in most major towns across Britain. By 1943 when he retired and sold out to Great Universal Stores (nowadays known as GUS), he controlled a chain of between 300 and 400 stores.

By the 1920s Cahn was a very wealthy man who enjoyed his money, spending it lavishly and generously. He fell in love with cricket when as a child he often sat under Parr's tree at Trent Bridge, listening to Arthur Shrewsbury.

Later, in 1925 he joined the county committee at Nottinghamshire and his donations paid for much of the cost of a new scoreboard, new indoor nets and two new stands

In 1926 he finished building his new ground at West Bridgford in West Park on Loughborough Road. This included a luxurious pavilion which was used to house a collection of ancient bats and which if necessary could be converted into a badminton court.

Cahn's home at Stanford Hall

Having lived at Papplewick near Nottingham, in 1928 he bought Stanford Hall in South Nottinghamshire, from Kathleen Kimball at a cost of £70,000. The house was an eighteenth century red-brick building put up on the site of an earlier house by Charles Vere Dashwood and subsequently enlarged by members of the Ratcliffe family, to include the extensive terraces with far ranging views to the south over the wolds and Charnwood Forest. Cahn commissioned another cricket pitch, a nine-hole golf course, a bowling green and enlarged the large trout lakes, complete with island. A tennis court and thatched pavilion, an enormous outdoor heated swimming pool with coral walls holding fountains and artificial caves added to the fantastic wooded parkland and formal gardens.

The house was extensively remodelled over the next decade under the direction of Sir Charles Allom, principal of arguably the finest of the large interior decorating concerns, White Allom Ltd. Together with Queen Mary, Sir Charles advised on the redecoration of Buckingham Palace and had many multi-millionaire clients, such as Henry Clay Frick, whose Fifth Avenue town house now houses the Frick Collection and whose decoration by White Allom is highly regarded. The same is true of Stanford Hall. At the same time, Allom was working on St Donat's Castle in Wales for press magnate William Randolph Hearst. Stanford Hall retains most of the superb interior structures and installations of Cahn's day, though most of the art moderne marble bathrooms were removed in the 1960s. The furnishings selected with Sir Charles were of the highest quality. The inclusion of many fine antiques, and the theming of the rooms by date and country gave the impression of a house that had evolved over time. By 1940 it was one of the finest and most luxurious of small country houses in the United Kingdom. Cahn died in the White Allom panelled library in 1944.

In 1931 Cahn purchased Newstead Abbey, Lord Byron's former home and donated it to the Nottingham Corporation at a ceremony attended by the local council and the Greek prime minister. Cahn was subsequently decorated by the Greek government.

In 1934 Cahn was created a baronet, of Stanford on Soar for services to agriculture and several charitable causes. There were many instances of his contributions to charity, not least society balls held in London and elsewhere in aid of various charities.

Cahn spent many years as President of The National Birthday Trust Fund, the charity that promoted the provision of maternity services. In this capacity he became very friendly with Lucy (Cissie) Baldwin, wife of prime minister Stanley Baldwin. In 1934 Cahn helped the government of the day pay off the notorious honours fixer, Maundy Gregory.

Apart from cricket, his other great loves were hunting and magic and illusions. Between 1926 and 1935 was the master of the Burton foxhounds (founded 1672). According to one account, his enormous wealth was seen as a godsend by the club. In his first year as master, he donated £500 towards replacing barbed wire with wooden fencing. He also gave prizemoney for the best-kept hedges. On hunt days, his party would arrive in a fleet of Rolls-Royces.

Cahn was also a celebrated illusionist, President of the Leicester Magic Circle and an influential member of the Magician's Club. In 1936, Sir Charles Allom's son-in-law J E Redding, a constant visitor, was put in charge of the project to create a theatre-cinema on the east side of the house. J.E. Redding and Smith, and the noted cinema architect Cecil Aubrey Masey designed this addition, in which Cahn could perform in front of his guests and friends. Stanford Hall. An air-raid shelter was also built under the theatre and the project was reported in the architectural press and locally in the Loughborough Echo as "one of the most remarkable in this country. Its lighting, furnishing, and general appointments are delightful in every respect. The fittings are modern in the extreme". Among its features are a decorated safety curtain and a series of murals painted by Beatrice MacDermott. A self-playing Wurlitzer theatre organ was bought from the Madeleine Theatre in Paris and contributed to Cahn's repertoire of magic. The theatre continues to be used to this day, for plays, operas, musicals and concerts by amateur and professional companies and was home to The Lincoln Rep for many years in the 1950s and 1960s together with the Festival Players. Cahn was a keen supporter of music and Vladimir Horowitz performed privately at Stanford Hall, as did Olga Lynn.

Having sold his business interests to Isaac Wolfson's Great Universal Stores in 1943, he had but one year to enjoy his house, which was surrounded by the full war-time occupation of an army transport unit. After Cahn's death at Stanford Hall, the house and part of the estate were subsequently bought by the Co-operative Union Limited to house the Co-operative College on its move from war-blitzed Manchester. The college was based there from 1944 to 2001. Until the late 1990s it was home to thousands of students from around the globe, all given varied courses in the principles of the co-operative movement, based on the principles of self-help, which Cahn would have recognised. With the widening of access to higher education, the appeal of adult education of the kind provided by the college diminished, and there was less demend for the kind of education it offered. In 2001, Stanford Hall was sold to the property developer Raynsway and more recently was sold to Chek Whyte Industries, who intend to restore the Hall to its former glory.

Cahn married Phyllis Muriel Wolfe on 11 July 1916. They had three children, Patience Cahn (born 1922), Albert Jonas (1924) and Richard Ian (1927). Albert Jonas assumed the baronetcy on his father's death.

His granddaughter Miranda Rijks has written 'The Eccentric Entrepreneur', the first official biography of Sir Julien Cahn published by The History Press in 2008.

Love of cricket[edit]

Although privately formed, such was the strength and quality of the various teams that he assembled that several of their matches were accorded first-class status – thus allowing him in Kingston, Jamaica in March 1929 he made his first-class debut. Here he captained a team which included no less than eight Test cricketers – including Lord Tennyson and Andrew Sandham. Many years later, when his grandson visited the island he was introduced to an old Jamaican who, as a boy, had carried Cahn's bags and had been so taken with him that in his honour, he had changed his name to 'Julien Cahn'!

Although he was a first-class cricketer, he was also was a hypochondriac who in later life would often use his electric wheelchair in preference to walking. He would think nothing of using his own private train to bring Lord Horder (the King's doctor) to Stanford Hall to attend to him.

Cahn was a poor cricketer and fearful of the ball, so as a result, he batted in specially made and inflatable pads which had to be inflated by his chauffeur. His umpire John Gunn is recorded as never having given him out by LBW – no doubt in a bid to keep the fixture.

It is recorded by Jim Swanton that "...the pads were very large, and the ball bounced readily off them for leg-byes, which the umpires conveniently forgot to signal". Also another player to appear at Stanford Hall, Philip Snow recalls playing there once when Cahn's pads deflated, "He'd no sooner come out to bat than there was a loud hissing noise. I liked him but he was a real autocrat, a martinet. He stalked off the pitch, sacked his chauffeur on the spot and declared the innings."

Cahn was also a keen bowler, throwing the ball high in the air – this often meant relying on the boundary fielders to take catches. One commentator said of his bowling style, "His bowling was not so much up and down as to and fro."

By the mid-1930s Cahn's cricket philanthropy had included support for the financially troubled Leicestershire. He also arranged for Stewie Dempster, the New Zealand batsman, to work as his business store manager in Leicester to allow him to captain the county. "At that time," Philip Snow remarks "Dempster was regarded as the best player of slow bowling in the world. He was incredibly quick on his feet."

Whilst Dempster was undoubtedly successful in playing for Leicestershire, scoring 4,659 runs at an average of 49.04 in 69 matches for the county,[1] Cahn had the habit – irritating to many – of requiring him to play for his own team which greatly reduced the number of appearances he was able to make for Leicestershire. In 1938, for example, Dempster played 14 of Leicestershire's 26 games in the County Championship.[2] A similar thing was also experienced with Jack Walsh, who managed to take 216 wickets for Cahn's XI in 1938, but who in the same year was only released four times for county matches.

The power of his XIs[edit]

As result of both his financial pull and the colour of his cricket, his invitation teams were able to keep the loyalty of many of the top players – something that was often to the disadvantage of the establishment clubs.

Dempster, Walsh and Morkel's skill meant that they would be valuable members of any county team, as would the bowler Bob Crisp, who in 1935 alone took 107 wickets for the South Africans tourers. The Wicketkeeper Cecil Maxwell represented the Gentlemen against the Players in 1935 solely on the strength of his Cahn team performances.

Similarly both of the England legspinners Ian Peebles and Walter Robins played often at both West Bridgford and Stanford Hall. The Sir Julien Cahn's XIs were often too strong for their opposition – as illustrated by the fact that minor county sides were often beaten by an innings and at West Bridgford where a fox's tail was raised after a victorious match – the tail was rarely seen down.

Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
New creation
of Stanford on Soar
Succeeded by
Albert Jonas Cahn