History of Knowle Lawn Tennis Club 1893 –
In 2007 Derek Walkerdine wrote a book which traced the history of Knowle Lawn Tennis Club. The book will shortly be available online, until then here are a few extracts from his book.
About the formation of our club he begins:
We date the beginnings of our Club to 1893 because it is in that year that the formation of a Club was proposed, and work was begun to set the Club in motion. 1893 is a remarkably early date for the Club’s formation because the first lawn tennis club in the world had been formed only 21 years earlier in 1872 at Leamington. The first lawn tennis was played at the All England Club in 1877, and the LTA was formed in 1888.
The site of Knowle Tennis Club was originally a racecourse which was opened in 1873 by the Prince of Wales.
Knowle Tennis Club is formed from two clubs with a third club also occupying the site, as Walkerdine explains:
Almost all the current members of Knowle Lawn Tennis Club will only be aware of the one Club on the site with four hard courts. Older members will remember Knowle Firfield Club occupying the area that is now the Cricket Club Car Park and the third lane of the Wells Road, with three En-Tout-Cas courts at right angles to our present courts. Up to the Second World War there was another Club on the site, the Avenue Club, first mentioned in 1916.
…There were friendly matches, for example with Firfield, an annual event until the Club merged with Knowle in 1966, and with the Avenue.
The club struggled on through the First World War and also the second. Of the second world war Walkerdine notes:
After the initial alarm, resulting in the cancellation of the Annual Dance, life at Knowle Tennis Club, as in so many other places, just seemed to continue as normal in the early part of the War; it was the Phoney War. The Gaiety Cinema, now sadly demolished, was being used for social evenings; there was a combined whist drive and dance the music interestingly being provided by a “radio gramophone;” there was a winter dance with a band.
The 1950 and sixties were ‘golden years’ for the club…to be continued