Club History


On 8 February 1909, eleven gentlemen of some repute met at Church House, Lower Parkstone (later to become the old Parkstone Girls Grammar School) for the purpose of forming a lawn tennis and croquet club.  They agreed to rent the grounds off Salterns Road from the Wimborne Estate, and decided to invite Lord Wimborne to be the first president of the club.  Under the terms of the deed, the secretary had to meet with the approval of the trustees, and received a salary of £50 per annum.

Lord Wimborne gave a £700 loan and the ground landlord gave a grant of £300.  The pavilion was built for £224 and still stands in almost its original state.  Five tennis courts and three croquet lawns were laid out.  There was no official opening but some 140 persons attended a tea.

Some time during the first few years a stable was built behind the pavilion to accommodate the horse, which was used to pull the mower and the rollers.  The horse had to be fitted with foot muffs.

In 1912 there were eight tennis courts and seven croquet lawns, but the club ran into financial trouble that year, and the trustees threatened to close the club if its expenditure was not curtailed.  The upper part of the grounds was let to the Poole Hockey Club for 8/-d per day.  Subsequently the horse had to be changed because it was making too much noise.  In 1913 the club made its first profit of £12-6s-8d.

When the war broke out in 1914 the club lost 60 members, and most of the ladies were concerned with the Red Cross and other activities.  Almost all tournaments were cancelled and the number of courts was reduced to four tennis and two croquet, with a reduced charge of £20.  Fortunately the grounds man was able to continue his work.  The armed forces and those of our allies were allowed concessionary use of the courts.  The lawns were also used for fetes and other activities in support of the war effort.  Normal tennis and croquet tournaments were re-introduced in 1919.

In 1920 the club agreed a 21-year lease on the grounds.  The secretary at that time was paid £75 p.a.  During 1921-22 the committee gave much consideration to the possibility of purchasing a motor mower with the object of replacing the horse, which had been sufficiently noisy to have to wear foot muffs.  Finally, in 1922 they decided to purchase an ADCO mower.  The horse continued to work until 1926, when the stable became a store and the foot muffs were left to rot.  (One foot-muff was found much later under the centre croquet hut when this was moved.)

In 1923 the Marwood Cottages (behind the club in Salterns Road) were purchased for £320 against a bank overdraft and guarantees.  At this time a Bridge room was purchased for £40 with a further cost of £14 for transport and £8 for furnishing.  This later became the secretary's office and now forms the shelter at the top hard courts.  The Dorset County Tennis Tournament was resumed at the club for a hire cost of £25 plus 10% of the gate money.

In 1924 Sunday play was approved from 2 pm to 8 pm.  The grounds man at this time was also serving in the bar and assisting with the teas, and also had to open and shut the grounds.  There were 16 grass courts, 216 playing and 52 non-playing members.  The Marwood Cottages were in need of repair.  This was not approved and they were sold at a profit of £ 19.  There was a dispute over land with the railway company, and in 1927 a strip of land in the northeast corner was sold to them, and the overdraft reduced to £865.  The club now had 154 tennis- and 53 croquet members.

In 1928 ladies were elected to the general committee for the first time.  There was a disagreement between a committee member, a trustee and a generous donor.  The member did not see why the secretary should have free meals at the club, especially during tournament weeks.  The dispute ended with the member becoming secretary and offering his services voluntarily.  The member lent the club £900 at 3% against a guarantee, and the overdraft was cleared.  In 1929 a new caterer took over and was very successful.  She continued to serve for over 30 years.  In these early years ball boys for the tournaments were drawn from the local residents.

During 1930-31 the Rev.  Heber-Percy donated a revolving hut for croquet.  This stood for many years in the middle of the croquet lawns, although more recently not revolving.  He also presented a shield for mixed doubles tennis.  During the next seven years there was little of interest to report except that two concrete hard courts were built on land now in Worthington Crescent.  The Dorset Open Tennis Tournament was moved from Bridport.  A public air raid shelter was built in the grounds that are now part of Worthington Crescent.

There was little to report during the war years.  In 1941 the 21 -year lease was at an end, and the club exercised its option and purchased the land for £952, with a government grant of £600, and various grants and loans.  During 1942-45 the hard courts could be used but had to be booked.  Some grass courts and a few croquet lawns were maintained.

In 1946 The Corporation was requested to remove the air raid shelter.  The tennis membership was then about 80.  A full-time grounds man was taken on at £5 per week.  In 1947 the Bournemouth Croquet Club accepted membership at £36, but in the following year the Bournemouth club folded up and most of the members joined the EDLTCC, bringing most of their trophies with them.

In 1950 the hard courts were re-surfaced.  A member gave the sum of £800 for 10 years free of interest.  Some of the pieces of land sold to the railway company were sold by them to the South West Pottery Company who allowed their use as allotments until such time as they would require them.  The Middle School now stands in the old Pottery grounds.  In 1953 electricity was installed, and in 1954 a plot in the Southwest corner was sold for £600 and the funds used for improvements.  At that time there were 11 grass courts, 3 hard courts and 5 croquet lawns.

The 50th anniversary of the club was celebrated in 1959 by inviting the Mayor and Mayoress to tea.  The ground known as the railway plot was re-acquired for £190.  During 1960-61 land now in Worthington Crescent including 3 old hard courts, was sold for £3900 and four bungalows built on it.  The proceeds were used to build 4 hard courts on the railway plot.  The caterer retired and another was employed.  The new hard courts were officially opened by the Mayor in 1962.

New works included a cloakroom extension and new showers in 1963 and new lavatories in men's cloakroom and new drainage scheme under the croquet lawns in 1964.  A new croquet hut was donated in that year.  In October 1966 there was an enormous cloudburst.  A blocked culvert under the railway embankment resulted in severe flooding.  The top surfaces or the paths and club entrance were carried away and blocked some drains in Salterns Road, flooding the newsagent's shop on the corner.  After lengthy negotiations the Railway accepted responsibility and the car park and path surfaces were covered with macadam.  On December 20th there was damage to the tennis courts by a stray horse from the Lilliput Riding School.  The grass was so much to his liking that he brought back several of his friends on Christmas Day and damaged some of the croquet lawns at a cost of £142.

In 1967 the target of 200 tennis members was reached and subsequent entry depended on vacancies.  This much improved the standard of play.  The Dorset Junior Tournament was transferred from Swanage.  The main pavilion was renovated by volunteers.  In 1971 two new tennis hard courts were built for a cost of £5,230.  This was paid for by an LTA loan, £1400, A Ministry of Education Grant, £2300, and club funds.  The pavilion veranda was filled in with cedar wood and louvered windows, all by voluntary effort.  The year 1972 saw the completion of the replacement of the old galvanised netting with new green plastic covered.  In 1974 some ground was purchased in the northwest comer for use as the new car park.

1976 saw the opening of the new clubhouse by the chairman of Dorset County Council.  It cost £19,285.  This was met by various grants, loans, and £3,900 from members' bonds.  1976 was also the year of the drought.  A croquet member who was an expert in water management provided electric pumps, technical advice and the cost of work, to tap the stream that runs down the rear of the club.  This resulted in our being able to provide water all over the ground, to the astonishment of our neighbours.  Several improvements were made to the old pavilion including ladies showers and conversion of the old kitchenette into a store and office.

In 1979 a strip of land was donated to the club by the Bourne Housing Association on condition that the club did not oppose the building of the last block of flats.  This strip of land runs from the flats to the Salterns Road cottages.  1980 saw the completion of two new hard courts and resurfacing of the others.  During the next two years further strips of land were purchased for extending the car park.  Flood lighting was installed on two hard courts.

In 1986 part of the croquet test match between Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain took place at the club.  We were allocated the match between G.B. and New Zealand.  G.B. lost 3-6.  Also in this year a team of 5 tennis members played continuously for 92½ hours and thereby raised a goodly sum for cancer research.

In the following year a 4-man team played continuously for over 126 hours, thereby breaking the Guinness Book of Records.

In 1990 auto-sprinklers were fitted on all croquet lawns.  This required a new pump house, water tank and mechanical equipment, the cost of which was met by a donation from a croquet member.

A number of improvements have been made to the club in the 21st century.  In 2018, we upgraded four hardcourts with Lano Grand Clay, an articial clay tennis surface, and comlpeted our lighting project so that all 10 all weather courts now have floodlights for night time play.  Our six Worthington Crescent grass courts and Croquet lawn 1 were completely relaid and laser leveled following advice from the head groundsman at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon. Following those works the LTA selected the club as a host venue for its premier grass club competition, the LTA Summer County Cup.  Further improvements were made to our floodlight system in 2020 when we introduced county level LED lighting over half of our astro courts.

In recent years we have redesigned our bar and cafe area with new lighting systems, more comfortable furniture and a modern look in keeping with the aspirations of the club.  We extended our outside patio seating area which will benefit members post Covid 19 lockdowns.