Headstone Tennis Club established in 1910, celebrated its Centenary in 2010 and enjoys a rich history building friends and relationships all through the medium of tennis. Whilst the courts, environments, facilities have all gone through changes throughout the years, the club ethos of family, friendships, laughter, fun has been everlasting.
The Story Begins…
Although founded in 1910, no records prior to 1923 exist, when a lease agreement, dated 26 July 1923, was drawn up between W.J. Starkie and Another & Miss D.G.Jenner and Others. Miss Jenner and the members were now the leaseholders.
A little later the landlord, Mr. Strange, wanted to sell the land. Efforts were made by the members to raise funds but unfortunately were unsuccessful. The ground was then purchased by Messrs Starkie and Howells.
The rent, which prior to this purchase was £25 p.a. was substantially increased and the new landlords refused to negotiate. As a result the members raised sufficient funds to purchase the lease, on land, with existing courts, immediately adjoining and at the rear of their present location.
The Committee wanted to move the pavilion to the new ground. This they duly did at their own expense. The pavilion, in those early days, was merely a wooden structure resting on sleepers (which had sunk into the ground) there being no brick work or any foundation.
On 04 March 1925, William Stanley Jackson Esq. Of ‘Trevarron’ Pinner View, Harrow in the county of Middlesex, His Majesty’s Inspector of Taxes and Daisy Gertrude Jenner of 35, Wellesley Rd, Harrow, Spinster, acting as Trustees for all such members of a tennis club or association known as Headstone Lawn Tennis Club purchased the land on which the club now stands.
The vendors were Reginald George Brightman of ‘Kiwani’ Cassiobury Park Ave, Watford in the county of Hertfordshire, Builder, Ernest Jones of ‘Little Manor’ Watford Hardware Manager, Thomas George Pleasants of ‘Draffin’ Hempstead Road, Watford, Builder & Joseph William Russell formally of 81, Kingsfield Rd, Watford but now of ‘Grasmere’ The Avenue, Bushey, Electrical Engineer.
The President of the club, on behalf of the committee, had issued an appeal to the members, dated 12 November 1924, for money to purchase the said ‘hereditaments’. The club was purchased for the price of £450. As to the actual number of courts on the new ground we can find no record, except that from reading the minutes from 1930 it seems that there were both grass and hard courts some or may be all of these hard courts being red shale.
In 1935, Headstone Tennis Club celebrated its 25th anniversary. An attempt was made to raise funds to extend the pavilion via an anniversary fund. This was met with mixed feelings, some members happy to support and other absolutely against it . The work was eventually carried out.
If you are interested in seeing photos of Headstone Tennis Club during the 1920 – 1950 period – click here. Thank you Brian Appleyard for sharing!
Credit: Brian Appleyard
The War Years
In September 1939, the Second World War was starting to take its toll. For the club to stay on a satisfactory financial basis it was decided to give the grounds man part time work and only dispense balls on alternate Saturdays. Further economies were generated through the renting of a proportion of club land for use as allotments and electricity and telephone cuts.
The Post War Years
The Club had managed to stay solvent during the war years and in the meeting held on 06 April 1946 the Committee had agreed to approach the bank for a £500 loan for repairs to the courts. This was refused, but on 01 June 1946, Mr. Lazenby was able to report that the National Safety Permanent Building Society had agreed to lend the club £1000 over 20 years repayable in instalments of £6.8s.4d. per month. This money was used to pay off all the debenture holders, including interest, leaving £300 for the rehabilitation of the club.
Mr. Lazenby, at an A.G.M. held on 05 October 1946 paid tribute to all the members who carried on throughout the war years, with a particular mention of Miss Nickels. This was met with rapturous applause. He appealed to all the members to bring in new blood and put the club back on its pre-war feet.This duly happened and over the years, Headstone has developed into the club we have now.
In the 1960’s, Headstone’s original grass courts had been dug up and replaced with red shale courts complete with state of the art overhead watering. Whilst wonderful to play on, they were a nightmare with regards to preparation and maintenance! The courts were unusable through winter once the frosts came because the surface turned to a damp soup and the lines (which were nailed down, rose up with the freeze! The start of the season, many hours of work were necessary to hammer down the lines, spread bags of crushed brick dressing then drag, water and roll the courts – back breaking work, but highly rewarding! Despite overhead watering, it was a constant battle to keep the courts damp enough particularly during the droughts and hosepipe bans of the 80’s and 90’s!
In the early 90’s it was decided that the shale courts after some 40 years, had done their bit and took the decision to replace the three courts, initially with tarmac and soon after with the carpet and granule courts we have today. This was followed, a few years later, with a further ‘Springstep’ court and floodlights on two of these courts.
A huge amount of repairs and improvements have also been made to the original pavilion over the years, culminating in the major refurbishment carried out in 1998. To undertake this refurbishment with only a small loan from the LTA is testament to the hard work and commitment of the Committee and members of the club.
Headstone Tennis Club’s most recent significant investment came in 2015 when it relayed 5 of its courts, to all new all-weather courts. The most significant change came from moving away from its unique orange courts to the more traditional green. This investment will seek to cement Headstone’s successful future.
To support Headstone Tennis Club go into it’s next phase, Origin, which has a strong affinity with the club has sponsored and supported HTC in a huge number of initiatives and developments particularly with the club house and events.
Origin are the UK’s leading specialist manufacter of bespoke aluminium bi-folding doors, Windows and Blinds. Origin has also taken an active interest in promoting healthy lifestyles, celebrating achievement as well as encouraging a happy yet competitive mind-set. Origin work with a number of Atheletes and upcoming sports persons including two tennis stars in the making Natalia Krauz of HTC and Eliz Maloney of the junior performance squad, run by the LTA and trained by Alan Jones and Joe Drury. Future tennis stars!
Over the years, Headstone Tennis Club has proved a major turning point for a number of members…finding love on the tennis courts! John & Mandy Kellard, Terry & Sue Baldwin, Alan & Linda Baker, Colin & Sarah Carter, Malcolm & Julia Ginger, Ashley & Anisha Miranda.
At Headstone we have also made life-long friends and long may this continue for future generations.
Headstone is a members run club and its longevity is down to the help and support of the members. With your support, Headstone Tennis Club can look forward to another successful 100 years!