The History of Geddington Tennis Club

“In the late 40s and early 50s, Geddington had only 4 tennis courts - two grass courts in the vicarage grounds and two which were privately owned. Regrettably, the vicarage courts left a lot to be desired owing to the very uneven surfaces. It was, therefore, considered by a few keen village tennis enthusiasts, that it was time to form our own tennis club.
 
At that time the space at the rear of the Village Hall was just very rough ground, with weeds almost jungle height. A small committee was formed, led by the late Jimmy Harker, and consisting of Gordon Hopkins, Ray Cook, Jack Miller, Bill McLaughlen, Edward Smith and Philip Gunstone. This committee obtained the authority from the Geddington Village Hall committee to proceed with exploring the possibility of providing two hard courts on this site.
 
A £5 donation was received from a surprisingly large number of village residents enabling the Club to be formed. The site was considered suitable; permission was obtained to proceed was obtained, and now all that was required was money and effort. It was surprising in the few months ahead how enthusiastic those interested became, considerable sums of money being very quickly raised by various and numerous fund-raising efforts. In the meantime, work was started by club members to clear the site of its jungle growth – however, it soon became obvious that the colossal task of moving tons of soil required not manual, but mechanical power. The introduction of tractors and machinery quickly solved the problem - reviving everyone’s spirits. At this very time Stewarts & Lloyds (later British Steel) were re-lining a furnace and tons of suitable hard core became available for the foundations: Stewarts & Lloyds also made a £75 donation.
 
We had now acquired sufficient funds to engage professionals to level and lay the courts and when that was completed, Club members erected the steel posts and netting surrounds. All the brickwork, ie the retaining wall between the courts, the steps and paths, were constructed from furnace bricks and are still there to this day. We now required a Clubhouse, so six members travelled to Wellingborough with the sole purpose of buying a house there. No, we were not quite mad, Wellingborough Council were selling pre-fabricated houses. With slight modifications, we agreed that it would suit our purpose and, at £30, our pocket. There was a further charge of £50 to have it dismantled, transported and re-erected. We had no difficulty obtaining planning permission and with several loads of concrete, members laid the base, re-felted the roof and laid on the supply of water and electricity. The ladies took on the furnishing and interior decoration.
 
Our ambition was never ending and it was decided to erect floodlighting on both courts – this would be in the early 1960s. Eight steel posts were erected at a cost of one shilling per foot (5p in current money). The electrical installation was supervised and undertaken by the late Henry Knight and the late Stan Lean. We believed at the time, that we were the only Club in the area with flood lighting which allowed play throughout the year.
 
At last for many of us, our dream had come true. In a little over two years, Geddington had two first-class tennis courts, which all began with £5 donations, a few tennis enthusiasts, the inspiration of James Harker, our first and only Chairman until his demise, and Gordon Hopkins, our long-standing secretary, together with the goodwill of numerous village supporters.
 
As far as I can recollect, and without any factual data whatsoever, this report covers the formation and early years of the Geddington Tennis Club."
 
Jack Miller
(Formerly of Newton Road)

Kind thanks to Geddington Newsletter for permission to publish this article.