Grimsby Tennis Centre
A Brief History
The club was originally founded by members of the Welholme Methodist Church on grass courts in Welholme Road, Grimsby. In order to protect the membership from personal liability the club was formed into a Limited Company (Company number 00179077) on 16th January, 1922. The land in Weelsby Avenue was purchased in April, 1922 and so the club on this site pre-dates the surrounding houses that were built in about 1930.
Those members that can recall the former timber pavilion will not be surprised to learn that electricity was only installed in 1960 to replace the gas lighting!
The former bar was erected and opened in 1959 as an addition to the former pavilion and it was enlarged a mere 4 years later. Obviously after a successful start.
Some land at the rear of the former pavilion was purchased in 1961 and land adjacent to the drive was bought as a turf nursery in 1955.
A tennis practice wall was built in 1972 and the squash court was built in 1973. It was the second squash court in the town.
The two hard courts were built in 1984 after the former red shale courts had given good service. In fact they had given more than good service. Each time they were used they had to be dragged and sifting out the large pieces of 'clinker' became a regular occupation. After all of this work it was inevitable that you would travel home with red socks and red legs caused by the fine dust.
Major development involving erection of a new clubhouse, floodlights, construction of the car park and replacing the grass courts with Tennisweave synthetic grass carpet took place in 1989 after months of careful planning. This high specification artificial grass surface, unlike many synthetic carpet courts, uses very little sand, which therefore provides a good foothold. To finance the £100,000 project, two grass courts nearest to Weelsby Avenue were sold for housing.
In 1991/92 the Men's teams were particularly successful. The First Team won the Lincs. Men's First Division for the first time in the Club's history and the Men's Third Team were promoted to the Third Division. Players in the squad were: Trevor Kelly, Tim Smith, Andrew Lashbrook, Allan Thompson, Jamie Thompson, Duncan Proctor,
Further progress and development of the Club was made in 1993 with the successful application for a Sports Aid Grant which allowed the laying of two all-weather synthetic grass courts to replace the worn out hard courts. The new synthetic grass is different from that already laid with more sand providing a higher bounce during wet weather in particular. Older members appreciate the additional comfort factor!
In 1994/5, for the first time in its history, the North Kelsey League allowed a Grimsby team to enter the League and Welholme had the honour..
1996/7 saw a Men' s veterans team successfully enter a new Lincolnshire League, coming second by the width of a sideline at the first attempt.
The Peaks Parkway was completed and opened to traffic in October, 1998 and the eastern boundary of the Club was made more secure.
March 1999 saw the Men's Veteran's Team finally achieve their reward for some difficult matches and long journeys by winning the Lincolnshire League.
Directors of the Club embraced the Lawn Tennis Association's Club Vision programme and began work on development of the Club. There are practically no tennis facilities for the disabled and part of the development of the club would address this issue. Detailed and lengthy submissions were made to the Sports Aid Foundation, the National Lottery, the Football Trust and Foundation for Sports and the Arts. Support for the bid was forthcoming from the LTA and a huge redevelopment of the Club started in August, 2003. The development, costing £250,000 saw the whole site under construction work. All of the courts were replaced; four synthetic grass courts so enjoyed by players of all abilities, two floodlit acrylic courts as used in the US Open, which are especially good for wheelchair tennis, and a state of the art Club House with ample luxurious accommodation.
The clubhouse was extended and reconfigured to include a corridor to the squash court, larger changing rooms and showers and separate disabled facilities requested by the LTA. Local Architectural practice, Hodson Architects, carried out the sympathetic design creating a new entrance way with spacious, unencumbered lounge area, a splendid kitchen annex to the main room all illuminated with roof-height natural lighting.
Take a look inside by clicking here!
The project was lead from start to finish by Andrew Lashbrook who did such a magnificent job that the Charities funding the work offered him a position! The grand opening was on 12th April, 2003.
In recognition of the scale of the development, the Club changed the name to Grimsby Tennis Centre.
In 2019, the two acrylic courts were replaced for a new type of cushioned surface, Poraflex. The acrylic courts had proved unsuccessful. Although they were great when dry, especially for wheelchair tennis, any rain would quickly halt play. The impermeable acrylic surface caused shallow puddles to form and for most of the year the courts were unplayable. Famously, Chairman Andrew and Jane Lashbrook set to work and took weeks to fill in 'stretch' cracks that had appeared in the surface. Although, pressure-washed on a number of occasions, repainted and enticing, the courts remained unloved. High bounces and a hard surface, which for unknown reasons became uneven, lead to discussions about their replacement.
After a search of many different types, including 'synthetic clay', 'synthetic grass' etc., the bold decision to try a newly available surface well liked by clubs who had laid it, was installed.
The huge benefit of Poraflex courts is their permeability which can be demonstrated by pouring a full bucket of water on the surface. The water quickly dissipates.
Although the slow bounce is different to the synthetic grass, it is well appreciated by the Club's coaches and those reasonably new to the game. Time will tell how popular they are although during the first winter of play many players preferred the Poraflex courts to the synthetic grass!
In 2022 the Club celebrated it's centenary with a funding drive and Hog Roast. The Club is financially stable and preparing for future developments during the next 100 years.
From the 1st August, 2022, the Club agreed to host Dave Lee Personal Training in the squash court which has been under-utilised for several years. Since the outbreak of the COVID crisis in 2019, there was no-one playing squash. Previously, for several years there were less than 10 squash members. Dave Lee's business was previously located in the former Barclay's Bank in Scartho Village. This new venture will, hopefully, benefit boith the Tennis Club members and clients.
Page updated 24 July, 2022
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