The History of the Club
Written by HEDLEY KENDALL
Historical Facts and Anecdotes
I have been asked by the producer to write a background to the club’s foundation.
Why is it named The Hamilton Lawn Tennis Club? The land on which the club is built was part of the Hamilton Drive development of E. Clarke and Sons. Along the North side of Warwick Road stands the mansion Warwick Lodge and its beautiful grounds, occupied and owned by the Melton Borough Council. This residence, the last of the large hunting boxes to be built in Melton Mowbray was erected in 1908 by the second Lord Hamilton of Dalyell and was initially called Hamilton Lodge. Hence is the derivation of the name Hamilton for the club.
I consulted Mr Noel Watts who has custody of the title deeds and he says all the land prior to it being purchased by Ernest Clarke was owned by the Vickers family and was brought around 1922. Mr William Coleman and the Reverend Philip Hunt who have boyhood memories of the area, knew the two fields on which the Hamilton Drive and the club development were built as Brewitt’s No.1 and No.2 fields, but do not recall the name Vickers.
On the 26 February 1925 Ernest Clarke sold the land to his son Charles John Clarke and the daughter Gladys Ruth Clarke who later married a Mr Mackenzie and resided in South Africa. The price paid was £800.
I personally recall the entries in the club’s first membership book were in 1923. Regrettably when I ceased as Treasurer of the club in 1963, all the previous membership records, minute books etc. were destroyed by my successor. What was particularly interesting in the first membership book was a list of honorary members of the club. The list was headed by the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Gloucester and then followed a layer or more names of the nobility.
Continuing with the club ownership, on 28 May 1938 Charles John (known as Wagg) Clarke bought out the sister’s share for £450, though I remember after the war Mr Clarke gave the impression that he still consulted with his sister on club matters.
On the 9 August 1954 the late R W Hart brought from C J Clarke for £2,250 basically what we now know as the club. Prior to this date Mr Clarke had sold some land fronting to Dalby Road. The club did not have the option to buy the premises and land at that time, but retained a lease, paying a quarterly rent. Mr Bob Hart subsequently sold off a couple of plots for bungalows at Hartland Drive and also built his own house next to the end of the first hard court.
On 28 July 1964 the remaining property was conveyed to the Club Trustees by Mr Hart at the price of £2750, although Mr Hart reserved from the sale the orchard-come-chicken run on the site, where the bungalows belonging to Mrs Snelson and Mr D Mayes now stand.
Mr Noel Watts who has acted as honorary solicitor to the club for several years sometime ago fortunately had the wit to notice that there was an anti-alcohol covenant affecting the club, although strong drink had been sold since the magistrates granted a licence. With the happy co-operation of the now late Mr A P Marsh this covenant was released and immediately the beer started tasting better.
The bungalow and the house, the latter was separate from the bungalow and smaller than we now know it, were built together with the six courts at the outset. The size of the club house can be gauged by the entrance door which was central. The club room was added later. Under the floor boards are stone steps which lead from the club room door. Later a lean to was built between the bungalow and the club house and this area housed the bar. The stucco walls of the bungalow were a happy relief for an itchy back and jolt to the inebriated.
The next bar move was to the club room when it was positioned as many of us knew it prior to the newly erected one. A Mr Curt, the steward, built the bar in 1952. It was quite an impressive structure like a figure eight, somewhat voluptuous. Later in 1969 when a Mr Stilletto was employed to re-furbish the room, the bar was re-constructed with a straight counter.
In the very dry summer of 1976, members of the club under the direction of Mr John Porter, the Secretary, extended the club to the West, building new cloakrooms and the kitchen. This allowed the club and games room to be extended and the provision of a pucka cellar.
Members are familiar with the recent changes and now have some details of the past. There are many other items and personalities on which comments can be made. Perhaps this will follow later.