A Brief History of St Annes Tennis and Squash Club
A Brief History by SALTSC | 7th October 2019
St Annes Lawn Tennis and Squash Club is a Victorian Tennis Club dating back to 1900. It was originally established by a group of enthusiasts using municipal courts at Hope Recreation Grounds and Ashton Gardens in St Annes. In 1920 they combined with another local club to carve the current site from the sand dunes by Clifton Drive North.
The Club's annual Open Tournament was a popular feature of Lawn Tennis in the North West since its inception in 1932. In 1934 the committee spent £1,000 extending the pavilion, and in May 1935 the Mayor of Lytham St. Annes, officially opened three new grass courts and a stadium. He hoped that the Club would continue to progress, and become one of the leading clubs of the North. Exhibition matches regularly attracted crowds of 2,000 plus, with such players as Fred Perry, Bunny Austin, Dorothy Round and Kay Stammers wowing the crowds.
After the Second World War the Open Tournaments recommenced in 1948. Exhibition events also resumed, reviving the pre-war interest and attracting crowds to see Wimbledon stars and overseas players in action. In 1950 and in 1954 Harvard & Yale played Lancashire at the Club before about 1000 spectators and many friendships were formed. In May 1952 there was a womens event, Great Britain v France ( an easy 16 - 0 victory for the British as a very wet weekend prevented the French from practising on the unfamiliar grass). Fred Perry, the Wimbledon Champion, was present and gave a talk and demonstration to the Juniors, an excellent opportunity for them. In spite of the rain, the event was nevertheless a great success. A week later for the Open Tournament there were perfect blue skies and hot sunshine, contributing to everyones enjoyment.
In 1961 Kramers Circus of new professionals went on tour; Pancho Gonzalez, Butch Buchholz, Lew Hoad and Mike Davis played at the club.
In 1964 Fred Perry opened the new tennis pavilion, built on the site of Court 1.
An exhibition match followed between Ken Rosewall and Rod Laver, the two leading professionals in the world at the time.
Quite a few Club members have achieved national recognition. The Club is proud of the fact that it has been represented at Wimbledon by at least one member for many years up to 1950. In fact L.A Godfree, the Club President, received the first service delivered, at the opening meeting of the New Wimbledon held on annually for many years. Kevin Livesey was another well-known favourite.
In the 60s Squash was becoming popular, and accordingly two squash courts were built adjoining the Pavilion. Clive Francis, the British Professional Squash Champion in 1968, was appointed Squash Coach. The demand soon required a third court, which was built with a glass back wall for viewing. Several Open Squash Tournaments were held, and the public were able to watch world-class players such as World Champions Jonah Barrington and Geoff Hunt from Australia. Other competitors included Abu Taleb and always a group from Pakistan (Hidiat Jehan, Gogo Aludin and others) The standard of ladies squash was very high, and in the late 60s the Lancashire Ladies 1st team was made up of 3 St Annes players: Pat Francis, Pam Bleasdale and Orelle Barlow (Gibson). Brian Rhodes, Tony Bleasdale and Clive Francis all played for County.
While having winning teams is important, it is vital for Clubs activities to interest and involve all its members. The St. Annes Club has always had a thriving social side. In the past activities ranged from the Annual Ball, to dine ins, progressive music concerts and a float in the annual St. Annes Carnival, not to mention barbecues.
In 1980 Audrey Mann organised a twinning of the Blau-Weiss Tennis Club in Werne, Germany, with the St.Annes Club. In alternative years we have visited them, and they us. Many lasting friendships have been made and everyone enjoys the Werne hospitality, as we hope they do ours. This venture still takes place today and we hope it will continue to prosper. For more information visit their website http://luether.net/tc-blau-weiss-werne/main.html. For more information about the town our friends live in visit http://www.werne.de/index.php?id=startseite