St Chad’s Tennis Club was formed in 1924 on land adjacent to St Chad’s Parish Church. This was only possible following the gift of land surrounding the church by the 2nd and 3rd Lords Grimthorpe, who determined that the land should be used for recreation purposes only.
The Parish Church Council approved The Recreation Ground Project and this was led by the vicar, the Reverend Canon Marshall, who oversaw the development of the tennis courts and the adjacent cricket pitch with great drive and determination. It helped that Canon Marshall, who was vicar of St Chad’s from 1907 to 1947, was a keen sportsman and regularly played both tennis and cricket during his tenure.
Work on levelling the land for the tennis courts began in 1923 and by mid 1924 two hard courts and a wooden shelter had been constructed. The club was initially named the St Chad’s Church Tennis Club and Canon Marshall was named the Club President. Membership was 15s 6d a year for adults and 7s 6d for juniors (aged 13-16). Total playing members were not to exceed 60 and no play was allowed on Sundays or Good Friday. The final accounts, published in December 1924 show that the whole project cost £560 9s 11d (just over £38,000 in real terms, as of 2021). Now known as St Chad’s Tennis Club we lease the land from the Church although the vicar of St Chad’s continues to retain the title of Honorary President of the Club.
Former member Jack Bancroft joined around 1926 and recounted the early activities of the club for a fundraising article…
In those days there was a small open shelter on the Church side of the courts where we changed our shoes. The men wore long white flannel trousers so there was no need for privacy to change into shorts. However, as the club grew, we felt we would like a pavilion where we could have teas on Sunday afternoon, and entertain other clubs for match play… The late Mrs. C. C. Marshall opened the pavilion and we had a grand tea to mark the opening ceremony. Canon Marshall was a keen tennis player, and really loved the game. I played many Men’s Doubles with him. Sometimes he missed a shot and promptly called out ‘Yours’… The social life of the Club was always good and we had many interesting visitors, [including] Geoffrey Talbot, the well-known BBC commentator.– Jack Bancroft, 1960
The tennis courts have been resurfaced over the years; most recently in 2017 when an artificial grass surface was laid for the first time. An old wooden hut was demolished and burnt on 5th November 2008 and our new clubhouse was opened for use in 2009. The only evidence of the wooden hut that remains are the steps by the court entrance which provide a useful seating area. The new clubhouse was constructed on the rear of the land on the site of an old scout hall. As the old wooden hut had no water or electricity supply it meant that members finally had access to kitchen and toilet facilities!