History of Tynedale Tennis Club
Lawn Tennis was established in Northumberland and Durham in the mid -1870s, originally imported from Nantclwyn, Wales. In 1873, Major Walter Winfield introduced a version of the game called ‘Sphairistike’ with an hour-glass shape court, five feet high net at the sides and six inches lower in the centre with scoring up to 15 points.
Tennis first appeared in Hexham in the mid-1880s as a cement court built in the Hexham Abbey grounds. Its success led to acquiring the leasehold of Prior’s Flat with a contract to lay turf on the tennis courts “for an area of 58 yards by 40 yards, and for a cricket plot of 40 yards by 40 yards” which cost a total of £33.
Tynedale Lawn Tennis Club itself was founded in 1888 and moved to its’ present day location on Prior’s Flat in 1889. That same year the current club’s pavilion was built and officially opened on May 16th.
For many years the club only had grass courts, before 3 hard (shale) courts were added in the 1930/40s. These courts were replaced by three tarmac courts in the late 1960s. Since then, the 3 porous tarmac courts (replacing grass courts 1, 2 & 3), were laid down in 1994 and the 3 artificial grass courts (replacing the 3 original tarmac courts), were installed in 1996. Until the new all weather courts replaced the tarmac courts 1, 2 &3 in 2006, apart from the County Club at Jesmond, our club was unique in the region in providing a choice of three different types of playing surface.
We have produced some formidable players over the years including Miss Jackson who was a winner of the All England Mixed Doubles (with Mr J. C. Kay) at Wimbledon in 1891, and the following year she won the Ladies’ Doubles at Wimbledon with Miss Crofton. In 1895 Miss Jackson reached the final of the Ladies’ singles, losing narrowly 5-7, 6-8 to Miss C Cooper who herself went on to win two more Wimbledon titles. The most successful lady to play at Hexham was Miss Muriel Robb (believed to be a joint member of Jesmond and Tynedale tennis clubs) who took the All England Ladies Open Singles title at the Wimbledon championships in 1902.
Tynedale Tennis Club’s status as an independent association changed in 1977 when a new Tynedale Sports Club was adopted; amalgamating the hockey, cricket and tennis sections as one sports club. This provided funding from our local authority and sports agencies, to help improve the ground’s facilities.
In July 2009, the Tynedale Sports Club underwent fundamental re-structuring, with each of the three sections reverting to its individual constitutional status and becoming self-governing once more. This ensures Tynedale Tennis Club carries its distinctive personality into a second century of existence and continues to develop to provide fun and exciting tennis for future generations. Fancy being our next Wimbledon Champion?
(More detailed history with accompanying photos can be seen in our club house)