|West Heath Lawn Tennis Club||Camden|
West Heath Lawn Tennis Club is on the site of the former West Middlesex Waterworks covered reservoir, later owned by the Metropolitan Water Board, from whom the club leased the land. The Club opened in 1902 and had five grass courts, two of which were later converted to hard courts. Today the club continues to offer low-cost memberships and provide the opportunity for outdoors exercise for residents in the area and from elsewhere. It also provides a social meeting place, with club tournaments, suppers, picnics and other activities.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/08/2017
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The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.
West Heath Lawn Tennis Club is located off an alley that links Ferncroft Avenue and Kidderpore Avenue, between which was a covered reservoir for the West Middlesex Waterworks. The company was established in Hammersmith in 1806 to supply water to west London and from 1903 became part of the publicly-owned Metropolitan Water Board, following the Metropolitan Water Act, 1902 (2 Edward VII, c.41). As the area was being developed for housing at the turn of the century, the site adjacent to the reservoir was unbuilt on due to the need to provide access for mains pipes from the reservoir. West Heath Lawn Tennis Club leased the site and opened here in 1902.
The earliest records of the Club date from 1912 when there were 85 playing members and five grass courts. The topic of hard courts, then known as rubble courts, arose as early as 1912 but it wasn’t until 1937 that at an Extraordinary General Meeting it was voted to convert two of the grass courts to hard courts, paid for through an anonymous benefactor who was eventually repaid by 1948. Open to men and women, in the early days the latter were the most numerous - for example making up 62% of the membership in 1938 - although they played a subordinate role in running the club. Only in 1927 did the ladies' captain become ex officio committee member. From at least 1905 annual club tournaments were held, with men's and ladies' champions cups. The social side of the club was important with a club dinner recorded in 1913 on the last night of the season, although the outbreak of WWI put an end to the event in 1914. During the war activities were much reduced although the club remained open. A dance committee was elected in 1923 and a weekly club night was held from 1935, increasing to 2 nights a week soon after.
During WWII, the club became dormant, closing for five years, not re-opening until May 1946 when the club's finances were boosted by hiring the courts for use by students at the nearby educational institution Westfield College while its own courts were being restored following the war. The club's original pavilion, a single storey wooden building, was extended after 1948 and has remained little changed since then. In 2002 the club celebrated its Centenary with a Dinner and Dance, described by club member and historian Vince Sudbery: 'A grand and undoubtedly successful affair at the Highgate Golf Club; over a hundred and fifty members and ex members gathered in formal dress to celebrate the Club. They were entertained in a style not possible on the grass bank at the side of the reservoir, next to the wooden clubhouse, which is now the normal venue for members socialising.' In 2015 the tennis club ground was included as a non-designated heritage asset in Camden's Local List as a 'Natural Feature or Landscape'.
West Heath Lawn Tennis Club - Ludwig Berlin, Part 1 The First Half-Century History' (May 2002),, Vince Sudbery, Part 2, Some Reflections from 1950 or so (June 2009), Ken Percival, 'Postscript, Some Early Memories of West Heath' (November 2000)