Pocklington Tennis Club
In this article which covers over 60 years of the Pocklington Lawn Tennis club, Mr Keith Herring, club chairman, recalls several bold schemes dreamed up by past committees and outlines the club's latest plans for hard courts. It has not been possible for him to touch on every aspect of the club's history and each prominent players of the past but all who have been associated with the organisation will find his review most interesting.
This years trophy winners: Barbera Herring (top), Keith Herring, Jean Billington and Sheila Whitehouse, Front(LtoR) Bob Burman, Geoff May and John Atkinson.
In November 1903 in minutes of the Pocklington Lawn Tennis Club recorded a warning that unless the annual income of the club is increased it will not be possible to carry on.
Now 62 years later the club, while certainly not in a financial dilemma by any means, is seeking to raise more cash with the plan of improving playing facilities by providing two all weather hard courts. The land for the two proposed courts has already been acquired but at least £1,000 will be needed to pay for their construction.
Alive to needs
It is an ambitious scheme but success will mean the writing of yet another chapter in the history of this remarkable club. The club committee is alive to the needs of its members and the improving of the court facilities will mean that more and more people will have the opportunity to feature in the records of the club. The committee is equally alive to the fact that the cash must soon be raised as soon as possible and it feels justified in its appeal to the people of Pocklington to support a money raising scheme which started this month. Other functions, such as a winter ball on December 2, have been included in its plans. The 70 members of the club, 40 adults and 30 juniors, will be expected to rally to the aid of the committee in this latest venture which will make the Pocklington Lawn Tennis club among the finest in the area.
A pre 1930's photo showing Tim Woods, Mrs N. Harrison, and Mr Donald M H Craven, twice winner and later a squadren leader.
The warning that the club could not carry on without an increase in its annual income, is in fact the first recorded entry in the existing minute book. That solemn declaration was made, and duly minuted, at the committee meeting in the town's Reference Library on November 18, 1903, but it is apparent that the club had been in existance for some time before.
The financial crisis of 1903 was duly averted and the club carried on its activities apart from breaks caused by two world wars.
At the turn of the century, the courts of the club were behined Red House, Yapham Road and on land owned by Mr Fred Smith, a local businessman, who was chairman of the governors of Pocklington School.
Many well known family names have, of course, been associated with the club. Among those who were members six decades ago were Mrs Angus Fairweather, local bank manager Mr Thomas S. Suddaby, Mr Fred Lee, father of Mr Jack Lee, tobacconist.
The club is the proud owner of several glittering trophies competed for each season. The mens singles cup for instance was presented to the club in 1906 by Mr H,B, Harrison-Broadley, M.P. and features the name of Mr Richard English of Smylett Hall as four times winner between 1910 and 1914. He wore his opponents down with persistent and tenacious tennis, we are told.
Some 1954 Winners: Bert Meynell, Geoff Fielder, Donald Gray and Lew Clark
A newspaper cutting for the year 1926 shows that competitors included Mr Wilfred Richardson, town librarian, (winner in 1927 and 1928), Eric A. Eldred of Neswick Villa, Wlater Fussey of Burnby Lane, and Eric Moor of George Street, Miss Daisy Gilson of Barmby Road, Miss Eileen Fairweather, Miss Mann, Miss Elisabeth Tinson and Mrs R.L. English and Mrs Elizabeth Cliff of Maxwell Road.
A beautiful rose bowl, formerley owned by Eileen Fairweather was recently presented to the club by her brother, Dr. Angus Fairweather, for the ladies' doubles competition. The highlight of the season has always been the tournament, and in the 1920's players came from far and near. The local firm of Forth's provided the balls and Mr Percy C. Sands, a farmer headmaster of Pocklington School and himself a trophy winner in 1921 and 1922, allowed the use of the Pocklington School cricket field while the clubs's new courts at West Green were being established.
One of the most remarkable players the club has ever had was undoubtedly Miss Elizebeth Tinson, a member in 1903, and who, when she was no younger than 70, won the mixed doubles with Mr Tim Woods, local seed merchant.
Men's singles winners include Mr Ken Wood, who took the trophy twice. But the record number is held by Mr Donald Gray with six wins, while Cllr. T.E. Scaife, chairman of the Pocklington R.D.C. took it five times and Mr Bert Meynell, Pocklington grocer, also had five wins stretching over the remarkable period of 28 years.
Right: The clubs annual tournament at Pocklington school
The ladies too have competed for a singles cup since 1910 and although the original trophy is no longer in existence, the present one dates back to 1920. Among its holders have been Mrs Norman Harrison (nee Ablitt) five times its winner, Miss Elsies Scott, four times a winner, Mrs Harry English, Miss Marjorie Dawson (teacher of the Church of England Infants School) anf Mrs David English, of Northfield Far, Yapham Road.
If the club has had some talented players it has also been equally fortunate in its choice of officials - men and women who were not just content to see tennis being played but who were constantly thinking of schemes to enhance the reputation of the club and improve its facilities for members and visitors. The many groundsmen over the 60 years must be remembered with thanks too.
In 1914, at the club's last meeting before war broke out, Mr Fred W. Robson and Mr Edward M. Robson, brothers of Mr Stanley Robson, of Algarth, Pocklington, were chairman and secretary and almost piloted through a scheme for a croquet section. But the idea never came to fruition. Tragically, the two brothers were killed in the war.
Re-formed in 1920, the club bought from the late Mr H.E. Stubbins land at West Green for the site of the present courts. Mr and Mrs T.B. Cundall, who owned the seed shop and Mr Walter Barlow (chemist) were among the active members at the time.
In 1922, the vice-presidents included the Hon. F.S. Jackson (former English cricket captain), Major P. S. Stewart, Mr H.T. English, Mr R. L. English, Mr Tim English and H.S. Powell of Powell and Young, solicitors.
The present pavilion was purchased in 1924 by Mr W.A. Tyne of Maxwell Road, and ex-Pocklington schoolmaster Mr Tom. W. Pay, while a move was made in 1927 to help the Pocklington development scheme to add a bowling green. But like the croquet idea this never came to pass.
Just prior to the last war the club's members included the following: Mrs Blackbourne, mother of Mrs Sydney Dixon of Norton Royd, Algarth, Pocklington, Miss Peggy Lamb, Mr Fred Steel (builder), Dr. Kenneth Isherwood, the Rev. Wimbush, then curate at All Saints, Pocklington, and now Bishop of the Western Isles, Scotland, and Mr harold Stubbings, then of the Feathers Hotel. During the last 30 years the club owes its existence to such people as Mr ??? (..missing)
Shall not fail
The addition of new hard courts - and the committee are determined that this latest venture will not fall by the wayside - will mean more tennis at West Green, Grass courts will, of course, always be popular but the alternative hard courts will bring about an end to those annoying spells when members find themselves unable to follow the grass game when weather conditions leave the former in an playable state.
That is why every member is urged to give his or her attention to the fund raising schemes which have been launched. On them depends the successful addition of another chapter to the varied history of the Pocklington club.