Memories of lawn tennis at Leamside

Nostalgia tennis
Nostalgia tennis

Courier reader Hugh Smith remembers a tennis club in Leamington which closed in the 1960s.

Mr Smith of Regent Court, Leamington, brought in the picture above in response to the Nostalgia article about Leamington Lawn Tennis Club (June 21).

He said: “The picture is of Leamside Tennis Club in Leam Terrace, taken in 1956. Pictured are Helen Petty, Brenda Bostock and Elaine Gilmore (with her back to the camera, talking to the men). The identity of the other people is unknown.

“The club had to close in 1963, but it joined the tennis club in Guy’s Cliffe Avenue. I belonged to the Leamside club and moved with it to Guy’s Cliffe Avenue, where I still play once a week.

“I used to play in the Coventry League and at friendly matches with other clubs.

“Leamside used to have four grass courts. It was a very nice, friendly club, but I no longer know anybody from the Leamside club.”

The first lawn tennis club in the world was founded in Leamington. Major Harry Gem, a solicitor, and his friend Batista Pereira, a Spanish merchant, invented lawn tennis in the 19th century, playing on a lawn in Edgbaston. In 1872 they both moved to Leamington and with two doctors from the Warneford Hospital, Dr Frederick Haynes and Dr A Wellesley Tomkins, played the game on the Manor House Hotel lawns in Avenue Road.

Leamington is also famous for real tennis. Established in 1846, Leamington Tennis Court Club claims to be the world’s oldest tennis club.

It was inspired by London private members’ clubs clubs such as Whites, and enabled Warwickshire gentry and the officers of cavalry regiments based nearby to meet, dine, drink and engage in a variety of sports and pastimes. The club continues to flourish and membership is growing.

In 2008, the club opened its doors to ladies .