A history of Gosfield Lawn Tennis Club
The history of the club up to 1980 is taken from a book by Maurice Rowson, as is the photo below (Maurice is on the back row, on the right)
Gosfield Tennis Club was formed in 1919, the brainchild of Reg French who got together a group of local players and used part of an orchard owned by his father (Arthur French) behind the bungalows on Church road for a court. Arthur became the first chairman and maintained the court whilst his wife provided the teas. The club proved very popular and by 1922 had to restrict membership to 50 and ran it’s first tournament with Bill Simmons having the distinction of being the first men’s winner and Kathleen Owers the lady winner.
By 1928 membership applications meant extra courts were required and the club hired four at Cut Hedge and the club membership then stood at 80. As that site was being offered as a site for a boys’ school the club sought a new site within the village to site its own courts. The club was offered the present site and with the help of Bert Piggin the site was acquired however the club still had to raise the funds to form the three planned courts plus equipment purchase and with the help three members of the Courtauld family two courts were prepared together with nets for £284. A second hand pavilion was also purchased and together with toilets and tool store the whole lot was erected for £84!
The grand opening took place on 10th May 1930 and the President Mrs W. J. Courtauld arranged the attendance of 8 Wimbledon stars including Mrs L. A. (Kitty) Godfree, the Wimbledon ladies singles and mixed doubles champion in 1926 and Miss Betty Nuthall (who went on to win the U.S. Open championship singles and doubles later that year) to open the courts and play exhibition matches for which a temporary grandstand was erected to seat 550 visitors
The club opening on 2nd May 1930 ( click on image to enlarge )
Back row: W. E. Bright, G. Baxter, M. Rowson
Middle Row: S. Randall, S. Dally, B. Piggin, Miss E. Pigging (Mrs Morgan), Miss E. Johnson, Miss I. Steward (Mrs Francis), Rev. A. E. Howe (Chairman)
Front row: R.McGregor, Miss O.Mitson (Mrs L. Haigh), Mrs T.Cresswell, Mrs W. J.Courtauld (President), Miss Betty Nuttall, Miss E. M. Harvey, A.R.French (secretary)
The club bought the freehold of the site in 1933 (at a cost of £60) and continued to flourish up to the start of the war when activities were curtailed but the club struggled on and picked up again in the post war years and in 1949 the courts were opened for Sunday tennis. As the village grew so did membership and by 1966 it was decided to lay the third (hard) court, fund raising and loans from members over the next 3 years made this possible and the court was opened on 2nd May 1970. The club played league tennis on and off for many years and in 1977 the mixed team won the Halstead League Championship for the first time.
The club celebrated the 50th anniversary of its opening in May 1980 with a grand event including a competition for a new trophy 'The Jubilee Bowl' donated by Maurice Rowson and Sally Few had the distinction of winning the trophy on a special day for the club, the event was well reported in the local press as was the presentation of a decanter to Maurice Rowson who had served the club so well over the years. Click here for photos.
A second hard court was laid down in 1990 to complement the previous one allowing greater winter play with the grass courts remaining for summer use.
During the 1990s plans were drawn up for a new pavilion which was finally approved and construction started in late 2000 with much of the work carried out by club treasurer Bob Waters, it was eventually opened on 12th May 2002. Click here for photos.