A Brief History of Whitton Tennis Club

The following history of the club has been compiled over many years. It gives an insight into the growth and development of the club and a flavour of the time. For example, early fees were levied in ‘guineas’, £1 and one shilling or 21 shillings if you prefer. And what was one shilling, and how much is it worth today? Those of us who are old enough may smile fondly at the old coinage.

The Club was founded before the Second World War but the earliest documentation that can be found is from the Annual General Meeting in 1941.   At that time there was both a tennis and cricket section and the club was called Whitton Athletic Club.  The cricket section probably played in Murray Park.

Minutes are available for each year from l943 onwards and any member who would like to read them may ask the current Hon. Secretary.

Dates are the dates of the Annual General Meeting unless otherwise stated.

1945 Decided to form a junior section, aged 16 and above. 1947 cricket section was discontinued. In l948 at a special General Meeting it was agreed that a request from Willment Bros. for a rent of £60 per annum be agreed. At the l948 AGM, Club rules were adopted and the juniors age to be reduced to 14. It was also decided that a mixed tournament should be run.
1949 The AGM had 50 attendees! Full tournaments were to be introduced and junior members were named at the AGM (seven of them). At the 1950 AGM a proposal to abolish the junior section because of their bad behaviour was tabled but was defeated, as was a proposal to make the men’s singles tournament best of five sets. Eric Jackson was elected to the tennis committee.
1951 AGM decided to enter the Middx. Cup. A proposal was put to the meeting that “losing a tennis ball carelessly shall incur a fine of 2 shillings” – not carried.
1952 51 attendees out of a total of 77 members! Had individuals to run a social section, dinner and dance, football sweepstake, whist drives, Christmas draw, darts and table tennis and bring and buy sale.
1953 71 seniors and 16 juniors (maximum). Subscriptions unchanged – senior 4 guineas and juniors one guinea. Juniors could use court 3 only Monday to Friday up to 6.30 pm and Saturday am.
1954 AGM reported that the club had 70 members. Brian Gray elected to the Committee. Proposal to discontinue junior section defeated.
1955 Subscription unchanged at 4 guineas.
1956 Subscription unchanged at 4 guineas despite an increase in the price of tennis balls to 6 shillings per dozen.
1957 Men reached semi-final of Middlesex Cup. Subscription increased to 4 and half guineas and 3 guineas for juniors.
1958 Kitty Andrews, the secretary, was ill and unable to attend the AGM but by proxy proposed that the club should elect a chairman rather than the captain taking this role. Bruce Davies elected chairman, and Eric Jackson elected captain.
1959 AGM reported the death of Kitty Andrews and a bench and tournament winners board was purchased in her memory as she had been a founder member in 1938. Brian Gray was elected Vice Captain. Subscriptions unchanged.
1960 59 senior members and 12 juniors. Subscriptions unchanged and a new intermediate category of member introduced paying a subscription of £3 and 15 shillings. Match fee fixed at 2 shillings and sixpence.
1961 Very poor attendance at meeting even though a membership of 73 seniors and 8 juniors.Senior subscription unchanged.Junior subscription reduced to £1 and ten shillings.
1962 Full junior section following a reduction in subscription. Subs unchanged.
1963 Brian Gray elected Chairman. Intermediate section discontinued because of insufficient numbers. Subs unchanged.
1964 21 attendees. Subs increase to £5. Graham Stubbs joined the committee.
1965 20 attendees. Subs unchanged. In an effort to increase membership would accept lower playing standard for those under 30 years of age.
1966 22 attendees. Proposal to increase subscription to £5. and ten shillings defeated by chairman’s casting vote. Tragic accidental death of the club stalwart Margaret Riley was reported. A car mounted the pavement and threw her through a plate glass window on a day when she was to play a mixed doubles match with Brian Gray against Twickenham Tennis Club. Brian played with a different partner and was not told of Margaret’s death until the meal after the match. Men lost in final of Middlesex Cup third division.
1967 27 attendees. Subs increased to £6. Entered Middlesex League for the first time.
1968 24 attendees. No secretary appointed at the AGM! Graham Stubbs subsequently volunteered to be club secretary. Men’s team won Division Two of the Middlesex League.
1969 15 attendees. Membership of club reduced dramatically but still remained in Division one.
1970 17 attendees. Subs unchanged. Relegated to Division Two.
1971 18 attendees. Sub increased to £7.50p. and £2 for juniors. Relegated to Division Three.
1972 18 attendees. Subs unchanged
1973 19 attendees. Subs unchanged.Relegated to Division Four
1973 (November) Extraordinary General Meeting held following being given, by our Landlords, Notice to Vacate the courts by 31st March 1974. Committee was given approval to incur costs up to first court case in an effort to fight for survival.
1974 23 attendees. John Wylie appointed Treasurer. Subs unchanged. Membership reduced. Maurice Blythman stopped junior coaching in his mid-eighties. 7th April 1974 – Extraordinary General Meeting agreed to fight the eviction order from
1975 11 attendees. Agreed that due to a lack of interest, no tournaments would be held.
1976 10 attendees. Club had had to pay £230 in legal fees relating to the appeal against the development. Sub was increased by 20% to £10.
1977 13 attendees. Subscription increased to £12 and £3 for juniors. Grant from Hounslow Council of £484 to help refurbish the pavilion.
1978 Insufficient members at AGM for quorum. (10 attendees) Agreed to continue AGM and post decisions on notice board for members’ approval.
1979 15 attendees. Subs increased to £13.
1980 11 attendees. Sub increased to £15 for seniors and £4 for juniors. Relegated in league.
1981 23 attendees. Sub increased to £17.50 for seniors and £5 for juniors. Relegated in league. Graham and Brian agreed to undertake junior coaching on Saturday mornings.
1982 18 attendees. Sub increased to £19. Discussed reintroducing tournaments and decided against.
1983 28 attendees. Sub increased to £20. Dress code re-emphasised. Relegated to Division Seven.
1984 28 Attendees. Sub increased to £23. Agreed to spend up to £700 on renewing lines to courts.
1985 17 attendees. Sub increased to £28. Horne and Son purchased land.
1986 17 attendees. Sub increased to £30. Lower membership reported at AGM.
1987 18 attendees. Sub increased to £32 for seniors and £8 for seniors. Finished bottom in league and withdrew.
1988 19 attendees. Sub unchanged. Again, lower membership.Sheila Nicholas joined club.
1989 12 attendees. Sub increased to £35 for seniors and £9 for juniors. Graham ceased playing but continued as Secretary.
1990 16 attendees. Subs increased to £38 for seniors and £10 for juniors. Reduced membership reported.
1991 21 attendees. Sub increased to £40. Again a reduction in membership.
1992 17 attendees. Sub increased to £42. Horne and Son to consider tidying up allotment area.
1993 16 attendees. Subs increased to £45 for seniors and £12 for juniors. Membership numbers held.
1994 20 attendees. Sub increased to £55. Horne and Son proposed new development AGM authorised committee to agree best possible deal. Sheila Nicholas appointed membership secretary with help from Mary Morton. Don Smith appointed Project Manager and Gerry Kingston Development Manager. These four were new to the Committee. The Committee had been four members – Brian Gray as Chairman, Eric Jackson as Captain, Graham Stubbs as Secretary and John Wylie as Treasurer for many years. 12th December 1994, Special Meeting to approve a lease with Horne and Son with seven trustees appointed from the club – BrianGray, Graham Stubbs, Eric Jackson, John Wylie, Gerry Kingston, Sheila Nicholas and Don Smith. 125 year lease at £100 per annum and a donation of £7,000 towards fencing.
1995 Minutes mislaid! Subscription increased to £75 for seniors and £15 for juniors. Ten year interest free loans of £25,000 raised from some members together with subscriptions paid in advance for 2, 5 or 10 years to cover cost of new courts. Courts opened May l995. Tragically, Eric Jackson had died from cancer just before the courts were opened – he was the biggest benefactor.His ashes were scattered on the lawn on the anniversary of his death. A bench was purchased in his memory from funds generously given by members and a special ceremony was held when past and present members attended the unveiling of the bench on court 1. Arthur Rylett, a member and great friend of Eric, wrote a poem a framed copy of which is in the pavilion.
1996 17 attendees. Subs increased to £85 for seniors and £20 for juniors. Received a belated Lottery Grant of £11,000 for the courts which we decided to keep towards building a new pavilion. Junior coaching that Graham, Brian and Sheila had undertaken for some years was stopped and replaced by Friday evening junior super-vised play. Reinstated tournaments for the first time since 1974. Re-entered Middx. League and were promoted in our first season.
1997 23 attendees. Subs increased to £100 for seniors. Juniors left unchanged. Promoted in League again. Increase in junior members with the help of Gordon Gibbins our new coach, and an increase in senior membership resulted in our total revenue being doubled.
1998 23 attendees. Subs increased to £110 for seniors and £25 for juniors. Planning application for new pavilion accepted. Junior member numbers increased
1999 17 attendees. Seniors subscription increased to £117 and £30 for juniors. Men’s team promoted again and junior numbers up again.
2000 18 attendees. Senior subscriptions increased to £120.Team promoted yet again. Lottery application still ongoing. We had been encouraged to find other forms of funding and had approached Hampton Fuel Allotment Fund.
2001 14 attendees. Senior subs increased to £125 and £35 for juniors. Had received £30,000 from Hampton Fuel Allotment Fund. Team promoted again and a second mens team entered. Junior and senior finals held the same day for the first time.
2002 20 attendees. Senior subscriptions increased to £130 and £37 for juniors. Sport England grant amounting to £92,000 approved together with a £20,000 loan from Middx. LTA to be repaid over seven years. All funding now in place for new pavilion at a cost of £156,000. Club’s constitution had to be changed for borrowing requirements.
2003 18 attendees. AGM held at headquarters of ETNA in St. Margarets because our new pavilion was still being built. Subscriptions increased to £140 for seniors and £42 for juniors.Reported that the new pavilion would be officially opened on 11th May 2003. 11th May – Opening Ceremony for new pavilion. Ceremony performed by John James, President of Middx. LTA, and Andy Sutch, London Regional Director Sport England (now Chairman Sport Richmond). Other dignitaries for Middlesex LTA and Richmond Borough Leisure Services joined current and former members of the club. Demonstration of wheelchair tennis and our own junior section was kindly organised by Gordon Gibbins. It was a pity it rained!
2004 15 attendees. Subscription increased to £150 for seniors and £45 for juniors. First AGM in new pavilion, which was much welcomed by members who had suffered in the old pavilion for many years. On the 11th October 2004 constitution changed so that the club could qualify for Community Amateur Sports Club status (CASC). This will enable the club to qualify for lower Council Tax. Graham Stubbs retired as secretary after 35 years to be replaced by Richard Johnston. Brian Gray as Chairman thanked Graham for all his hard work, which all the Club endorsed with acclamation. Brian presented Graham with an engraved cut glass vase.
2005 21 attendees. Subscription for seniors increased to £156 and £47 for juniors. Reported that floodlighting application and appeal had been turned down.
2006 15 attendees. Subscription for seniors increased to £162 and £50 for juniors. Sport Richmond had given Graham a “Valued People Award” for services to sport in the Borough, both at this tennis club and Strawberry Hill Bowls Club. Sport Richmond had also provided finance for a new table tennis table.The AGM approved a new category of members, Hon. Life Members, and Denis Godliman, Jill Hall and Graham Stubbs were unanimously elected to this new category. The constitution was changed yet again. Freehold of the club acquired at no cost other than legal charges. Ladies team entered Middlesex League for the first time.
2007 18 attendees. Subscription for seniors increased to £168, junior subs left unchanged at £50. Most improved player of the year trophy proposed.
2008 16 attendees. Subscription for seniors increased to £174, junior subscription left unchanged at £50. Most improved player was awarded to Matt Jones. Graham Stubbs resigned from the committee and Sheila Nicolas has taken a one year sabbatical. Mary Morton also stood down from the committee. Wendy Smith became membership secretary.Greg Smith also joined the committee. Major repair to the courts to be undertaken in April which should prolong their life for another eight years.
2009 14 attendees. Subscription unchanged and a special new arrangement for junior under eights of £10. Most improved player was awarded to Val Brannan. Major change in the year was to our coach who we parted company with after 12 years. A new coach, Sylvia Krauzowicz, joined in January and has already recruited many young juniors. Sheila Nicolas has rejoined the committee after her sabbatical and we also welcome as new committee members Andrew Kerslake and Andrew McMahon. Wendy Smith became the first lady umpire at Finals Day.
2010 19 attendees. Subscription unchanged but a new rate for juniors aged 8 to 11, of £25.Most improved player was awarded to Sacha Amaratunga. John Wylie retired as treasurer, a role he had filled since 1974. Andrew Kerslake has succeeded him. Wendy Smith has given up her role as Membership Secretary and Ladies’ Team Captain because she has decided to concentrate on golf. Both John and Wendy were thanked and will be sorely missed. We have had the worst season ever for injuries with the Ladies’ Doubles Final won on a walkover because Louise Stables had an injured shoulder, and the Men’s Doubles Final being won on a retirement when David Waite was injured when he and his partner Dan Smith had won the first set and were level in the second set. Concern was expressed about the reduction in Membership and our inability to attract new members in the 16 to 30 age group. We should also review a new approach to the Council on the installation of floodlights.
The subsequent years will be updated shortly.