Notes on Basford Lawn Tennis Club From Frank Wilkes

The original Basford L.T.C., prior to the formation of the Basford L.T.C, Ltd., in 1926, had two hard courts, adjacent to the Basford Bowling Club; access to the courts was past the Queen's Hotel at Basford.

Mr. & Mrs. H. T. Heatley were extremely active in the running of the Club, both on the playing side and coaching young players.

Mr. A. P. Ford, Mr. H. L. Steele, Mr. H. Greenwood, acquired County status, and other prominent players were Messrs. N. F. Gibbons, C. C. Gibbons, S. C. Gibbons, C. J. Noke, and these players represented the club in inter—club matches with Stone L.T.C. Grosvenor Gardens, Wolverhampton and others.

The ladies team consisted of Mrs. H. T. Heatley (Cheshire), Mrs. C. J. Noke, Misses Olive Gibbons, G. Gibbons, B. Heatley, (later Mrs. Russell) and others.

The two courts were sited at a point very near to the Etruria marl-hole and in 1925, the courts practically disappeared and new premises and land had to be acquired if the club was to continue. A plot of land was bought on the site of what was once called Basford Park, sufficiently large to allow the club to lay four hard courts, a large handsome pavilion, including a ladies changing-room, kitchen, etc., and in addition a smaller wooden building for the mens changing—room, including another room, later to a Bridge room.

All this needed a lot of money, and a limited company was formed, money was borrowed, Debentures were offered, and taken up by members and others, and every member applying for membership had to pay a subscription, an entrance fee, and a share. The new club was opened in 1926, and the courts, laid by Messrs. Gaze & Co, Ltd., were quite an innovation, or an experiment. The sub. surface was formed of a ground grey granite, and surfaced by a green top dressing called Green John, manufactured by Messrs. C. Ramsden of Longton, The substance used was graded particles of ground flint, soaked in Bichromate of Potash, and calcined in a similar way as the production of ceramic colours.

Most of the players from the old club joined the new limited company, and a lot of members were elected and the membership rose to over 100, and matches were played with most of the local clubs, and Wolverhampton, Derby, and several handsome cups were presented for competition, including two cups by Col. T. L. Wenger, for men's and ladies’ singles, and the Heatley and Shirley cups for mixed Doubles Competition, which encouraged some spirited play.

The men's team, consisting of Messrs. A. E. Walker, E. H, Bennett, A. J. Lewis, N. F. Gibbons, C. J. Noke and T. L. Wilkes, won the County Inter-Club Competition, for which a trophy known as the Alsop Cup was presented to them, and a replica.

The Club enjoyed a prosperous period until the second Wor1d War started in 1939, and tennis balls became improcurable, and several of the members were taken into the services, and the club suffered a somewhat dormant period.

When the war was over, the club passed through what seemed a transitory period, losing a lot of the older members, and electing a host of new ones, and again began to enjoy a prosperous time.

About this time, a disaster befell the club, owing to the poor state of the courts. Advice was sought from the En-Tout-Cas Co. of Leicester, who sent an expert down to study the surface of the four hard courts. The Green John compound had faded to a considerable degree, and had become almost white, and the grey granite, ground to an impalpable fineness, had sintered together, and formed into a hard mass, causing flooding, due to lack of drainage, and also causing the particles to skid on the hard mass, which was dangerous to the players. An estimate was obtained for the courts to be dug up and completely relaid with the lovely hard red surface, which needed light bagging, and could be top dressed with new dressing when necessary. This was effected, and the courts were absolutely marvellous, and subject to the attention of a good groundsman, provided a perfect set of courts for many years.

Parts of these notes appear in the History of Basford Lawn Tennis Club booklet compiled by Derek Newport.