A brief history of Stamford Bridge Tennis Club
It has been suggested that the club may date back as far as 1924, but the earliest written record I have found is a report on a committee meeting held on 28 August 1938 and signed by J T Fletcher, Chairman. The meeting was held in “Fletchers Shop”. There is reference to a groundsman and the balance sheet for the year shows an entry “grass seeds two shillings and seven and a half pence” indicating grass courts were in use. These are believed to have been on the opposite edge of the cricket ground to the present hard court site. Attendance at meetings at “The Pavilion” show a large number of male and female members.
During the war period there are mentions of an annual dance held at Great Helmsley Institute and of reference to “allowing the soldiers to play on the courts at a rate of 6d each per week as arranged by Mr Fletcher and Major Lindsay. Post war, things picked up slowly and membership in 1950 was only 31 adults and 24 juniors. A committee meeting records the death of Mr Fletcher who had been a long time Chairman and the election of Mr CH Midgley. A motor mower was purchased that year and an approach made to the Playing Fields Association to get a hard court (the accounts show one shilling paid to a mole catcher).
During the 1950s to club seems to have picked up with teams in the James Hamilton Charity Cup and a ladder competition. Many members of the Midgley family appear on the committee and are joined by Don Walton and Gordon Broadley, who were still there on the committee in 2003. There appears to have been an active social programme with many dances held each year. Towards the end of the decade a campaign was started to raise funds for a hard court and this was realised by the end of the decade, when a team was entered into the Whitwell League. In 1961 a meeting was held with the Sports Field Trustees to discuss the exchange of “and exceedingly tatty grass court” for a bit of land adjacent to the hard court, though realising this second hardcourt would take many years.
The club appears to have slipped into the dodrums in the 1960’s, with poor attendance at meetings. Things picked up again the 1970 with a drive to attract membership and work started to find funds to build the second hardcourt. A team was entered in the Hovingham and District league, winning the league in 1972. The original hardcourt was resurfaced and a second one built with support from the Council. Friendly games were being played with local clubs and junior coaching provided. A second team was playing in the York League. In 1985 the Tennis Club abd Vikings Netball Club met to agree refurbishment of the courts and shared use. At the beginning of the 1990’s membership stood at 45 Seniors and 41 Juniors, but through the decade membership and activity seems to have declined and by the end of the decade the courts were in a poor state and little used.
In 2001 a new group of members became active and rejueveanted the club. Major repair work was carried out on the courts and a new constitution agreed. Membership grew quickly during the decade reaching over 150 with professional coaching for an active junior section. The first mens and mixed teams were entered into the York Leagues, starting a decade long string of league wins and promotions and reaching a stage where two mens, one ladies and three mixed teams are playing regularly.
This short history has been produced from reference to old notes held by the club and from talking to some of the older members. The author would be very interested to hear from anyone who has more information on the club. In particular, it would be nice to know more about the period preceeding 1938. If the beginnings go back much further it would be a shame to miss the appropriate opportunity to celebrate the Club’s centenary.
(former SBTC Chairman)