History of Beckfoot and Bingley Tennis Club

History of Beckfoot Tennis Club

The land on which Beckfoot Tennis Club was built was originally leased to the trustees of the club for 21 years from 1st May 1946, on condition that the sum of £15 rent was paid to the landlord, Thomas Bailey, each year on 1st September, beginning in 1947. The land was to be used for a private tennis club and the only building work allowed in addition to the courts was a club pavilion and shed. At the end of 21 years further short-term leases would be drawn up with rent increases every five years if the club wished to continue.


There are some wonderful black and white photographs hanging up in the clubhouse showing one of the founder members, Margaret Bailey, assisting in the original working party and rolling the ground ready for four shale courts to be built. Our records show that back in 1953 adult membership was £2/15 shillings!


From its inception Beckfoot became a thriving tennis club and when I applied to join in the mid-seventies you had to wait for approval from the committee. Thankfully I was accepted and the club has been my passion ever since. I have loved playing both socially and competitively and have made many enduring friendships. I am very proud to be the club president.


There are few locations better than here to play tennis, with the golf club on  one side of Beckfoot Lane, the cricket club just beyond us, horses in the adjacent fields and a wide variety of birdlife to be found all around us.


Over time most shale courts in the area have gradually been replaced by tarmacadam or, at even greater expense, all-weather surfaces. It can be quite a challenge for the opposition to play here as the surface is unique, with spin being used to great effect. However, it does require immense dedication from our members, especially from February to April to do the essential court maintenance ready for the new season. Somehow we always get the job done in time!


Wherever possible we have managed to obtain small grants, which enabled us to save a lot of physical work by installing a sprinkler system and purchase extra equipment when funds in the bank were low. Our clubhouse is constantly being improved in order to attract new members.


Back in 1984 the records show we had 95 members, including 34 junior girls, 10 junior boys and eight intermediate youngsters. Unfortunately in recent years with technology advances and so many more activities available to them, the junior memberships have dwindled. Membership numbers in general have gradually been declining since there are now several established clubs in close proximity, some bigger and with more amenities.


When Bingley Tennis Club advised us they were closing their club in December 2012 and were interested in merging with Beckfoot it was a perfect solution for us both. On the 4th March 2013 we officially became Beckfoot and Bingley Tennis Club and now have a much stronger membership and healthier outlook for the future.


On the 3rd March 2015 a major milestone in the club's history came when, after years of trying, the resistance of the current landlord was broken and the club was able to purchase the land. Thanks to all those involved in the protracted negotiations and to all those club members who made generous donations and loans to make this achievement possible. As owners we can now apply to different bodies for more funds to keep upgrading the club facilities so that it can continue to be part of the Bingley community for many more years.


Deirdre Dorrington  - President

History of Bingley Tennis Club



BY MATTHEW BARNARD – Founder member and first Chairman


Whilst it is true to say I was the founder member of Bailey Hills Tennis Club, the inspiration for its formation was actually an unknown sports mistress of Bingley Grammar School. As a young man I had played football regularly and then spent 13 years as a referee. On reaching the age of 35 I needed to find a new sport believing my football days were over.


I started trying to play tennis with my wife Pat on the courts at Bingley Grammar School. There was never anyone using them until on one occasion a group of girls were on the nearby field indulging in after school activities. Before long the sports mistress came over to us and told us that we were trespassing and asked us to leave. On our walk home we passed the disused courts of the now defunct Airedale Tennis Club in the grounds of Bingley Cemetery. Not a ball had been hit there for many years. There were trees growing out of the courts, there was no perimeter wire or tennis nets. I recalled the once fine pavilion going up in smoke some years previously.


On passing I told Pat that this was where I would start my own tennis club so that we could play any time. She thought it was a splendid idea but then she has always been a supporter of any mad schemes I dream up. I also ran the idea past my neighbours Pam and Steve Brown and had their response been negative that might have been the end of the matter. However they were both very keen and I knew Pam would make a good secretary and Steve would have the know-how to restore the courts.


I approached Bradford council who soon let me know that the courts would be available on a lease. Another neighbour Brian Chippindale turned out to be a key player in the construction of the courts – as the proprietor of a plant hire company he was able to loan us much of the necessary equipment. Shortly afterwards I sent out a letter to all the residents of Bailey Hills and a few personal friends inviting them to attend a meeting at Church House on Old Main Street. There was a good response and, as it was reported shortly afterwards in the local paper, over 30 people – many of them children – turned up.


The club was formed on 12 September 1977 and I was elected the first Chairman – a post I held for four years. We soon started to restore the courts and to raise money to do the work. Among the activities were dances, safari suppers, sponsored walks, an annual bonfire and even Carol Singing  at Christmas. All the tasks, even the laying of the tarmac, was done by the members themselves. After one year we had one court and a year later we had two courts and a club house.


Most of the tennis played on our courts in the early years was social tennis. The members were very keen and it was not uncommon in the summer months to have to wait your turn to play. Afternoons at the weekends were so popular with the adults that juniors were not allowed to play then. There were no indoor courts for hire in the locality then so the more hardy of the members continued to play outside all year round. We even shovelled the snow off and spread salt on the surface such was the enthusiasm of the members to keep playing.


The club went from strength to strength with a membership of about 70. An annual tournament was held with a well attended finals day in September. In 1979 we joined the Monday night Friendly League, but it was not until 1985 that we entered the Bradford Parks League because until then members had always voted to keep Saturdays for social tennis. Sometime later we joined the mid-week Wharfedale League (which was some reason was also open to teams in the Aire Valley).


After ten years I was honoured to be awarded life membership of the club by the members in recognition and appreciation of my work in forming the club.

It remains a great happiness to me that the club I formed over thirty years ago has been so successful. It has been a pleasure to have played with and known so many wonderful people over the years. It is rewarding to me that so many new and lasting friendships have been formed between the club members.


The present committee are doing a wonderful job in running the club following on the tradition of many previous committees. They have recently made a marvellous job of updating the courts. New members are always very welcome to join this friendly club which I can only describe as....





The courts were resurfaced in 2009 once again using the labour of the members and plant loaned to us by Chippindale Plant. The outdoor toilet has been replaced by one inside the club house which has been completely renovated by the members. Funds were raised by donations from some members and the early payment of up to 10 years membership fees by others. A number of the present day members joined as juniors in the early days spoken of by Matt in his account above.


Bailey Hills for those who do not know is an area between Bingley Parish Church and the cemetery. The club was named Bailey Hills Tennis Club because of its location. However the membership was dropping and recently members decided that in the days of the web renaming it Bingley Tennis Club would make it more accessible to those searching for a tennis club in the area. We have as a result gained many new members over the last few years and the club evening on a Wednesday where anyone can play has been re-established.


Over recent years the club enjoyed successes in many local leagues. However there were always problems in maintaining courts overlooked by many tall trees. The numbers of tennis players in Bingley and the surrounding area was not enough to support two clubs and in 2012 a merger of Bingley and Beckfoot tennis clubs was mooted. The composition of our membership complimented that of beckfoot and made us able to field a variety of teams and look forward to a long future as the only tennis club in Bingley.


Unfortunately unlike the large clubs with indoor facilities we do not have specialist coaches for the youngsters, but our members continue to be successful.


Our men’s first team has reached the second division of the Parks League for only the second time in its history. Our Wharfedale first team has reached the first division after back to back promotions and reached the final of the cup in 2010. Not to be outdone our friendly league first team continue to play in the first division of their league.


Our lower teams however are just as successful in their own right and provide a good evening or afternoon’s sport for those who want to play league tennis maybe at a less competitive standard.