Bierton Tennis Club – A Short History

Bierton Lawn Tennis Club 2021

We are your friendly, local, welcoming village Tennis Club, with 2 all-weather, floodlit courts.

We welcome new members all year round with affordable memberships for adults, children and family groups; coaching (no membership needed) for both adults and children – beginners always welcome; and a fun Cardio session, combining tennis with high energy drills – a great workout, whatever your tennis level!

We are also now delighted to be able to offer Pay & Play, with no membership required. 

For more details on all we have to offer go to our website: https://clubspark.lta.org.uk/BiertonLawnTennisClub 

or email Anne at biertontennis@gmail.com

The Club has been in existence for almost 100 years. Read on to find out some of our interesting history!

A History of Bierton Tennis Club by Simon Holding          August 2016

Based on the research I have done, ex-members I have spoken to, documentation obtained and 60 years of Parish Council Minutes (1910 – 1970) read through at the Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies in Aylesbury, Bierton Tennis Club has had many peaks and troughs throughout its existence, but it’s only been at the Bierton Recreation Ground (with breaks) since late 1922, starting playing there in 1923.

Unfortunately this cannot be a simple ‘once upon a time’ tale, I can only present it as I have found the information out – so we start with the Facts, then my brief Comments/Thoughts, and finally Sources.

The Facts

Bierton Parish Council Meeting (henceforth PCM) Feb 20th 1919. A public meeting was held to ‘the consideration of the public to those who have fallen in this terrible war’ (referring to World War One 1914 – 1918). The minutes continued…’proposal to purchase the Recreation Ground and an effort be made to secure this as a lasting memorial to those young lives lost, for future generations of the Parish’.

PCM Sept 5th 1919. The Deeds of the Recreation Ground were read and signed by the Council – it was previously Rothschild owned land and was passed to the Charity Commission as a public gift. 80 members of the Bierton Public attended this signing in the schoolrooms of the Old Bierton School.

PCM 5th Nov 1920 – Recreation Ground Rules agreed (two interesting points) :

5 – no profound, abusive or indecent language

6 – Sunday games and betting strictly prohibited

1922 Recreation Ground Committee formed

PCM 8th Dec 1922 – location The Schoolroom Bierton (the old Bierton School)

Deputation from the Tennis Club

Deputation consisted of Captain Simms and Mr Ernest Simms (Sec of Bierton Tennis Club) asking to lay out two courts on the SE side of the Recreation Ground and to put wire netting around the courts and a fence beyond this to stop the grazing horses from damaging the wire fences – all agreed so long as NO barbed wire used – 

PCM Jan 5th 1923 : Letter from Tennis Club Secretary requesting the allowance of barbed wire as the grazing horses (in the Playing Field) had knocked down part of the protective fence around the tennis courts OR requesting that only sheep graze the Recreation Ground – this sheep grazing request was rejected as a tender had already been advertised for 1923 for horses to graze the Recreation Ground. It was sheep only grazing from 1938.

July 26th 1923 at the Recreation Ground – Bierton Flower and Pig Show was held : Parish Minutes of March 2nd 1923 agreed to the show but no damage to the cricket pitch or to the Tennis Courts was allowed by tents/stalls – and accidental damage to be fixed. The Show was again held in 1924 (Thurs 31st July), so clearly there had been no pitch/court damage at the 1923 Show ! And the Parish Council negotiated for a quarter of the 1924 gate receipts !

PCM Nov 6th 1926 : Tennis Club had paid 21 shillings for upkeep of the Recreation Ground – looking through the Minutes of the 1920’s it is clear that the Tennis Club were quick payers, both the Football and Cricket Club needed a few reminders !

PCM 29th June 1928 : Bierton Tennis Club (BTC) had asked permission to put up a portable Pavilion – the Council Ok’d this, on condition that if the building was large enough to be rated, then BTC would pay rates to the Council.

PCM 24th Sept 1933 : BTC allowed to enlarge the court slightly (I think that this should have read Club, not court in the minutes : I doubt the court dimensions had been wrong !)

PCM 26th Oct 1934 : Mention is made of Bierton and Hulcott Tennis Club – probably the original name of Bierton Tennis Club.

PCM’s 12th March 1935 : at Bierton School to decide celebration details of the celebration of King George V’s Silver Jubilee – all local organisations, Church’s, groups, Clubs had two people on the Committee – BTC had Mr A Hayward and Mr D Griffin. In 1937 it was decided that the same set-up be used for the celebration of the Coronation of King George VI.

Something which was a surprise…….1944 correspondence that I found at the Centre for Buckinghamshire Research in Aylesbury – from the Tennis Section of the Social Club of the Aylesbury Bell (now I believe that this is probably The Bell in Bierton – as the Secretary (Mr WEP Bailey) lived in the road around the corner from myself) – anyway dated 3rd Feb 1944 they wanted to Hire the Tennis Courts out for 1944, but to also be permitted to play on Sunday’s as otherwise War Work would prevent use of the courts fully. They had been in contact with Mr Hayward (see the 1935 Silver Jubilee Committee) who said that he and other late members of Bierton Tennis Club would welcome the re-commencement of the club – and to become active members again. Now there is mention made of the merging of the two clubs, and they awaited the Parish Councils decision. This decision came back after a meeting on 24th March, in a letter dated 27th March agreed with the request, but said it wouldn’t be a hire of the courts (or to accept any liability for expense of any sort in connection with preparation of or keeping the courts in order) – they just requested a normal cash donation for the upkeep of the Recreation Ground.

PCM 2nd Oct 1956 : newly (re) formed Bierton Tennis Club – it was suggested that this would also help ‘teenagers’. An £81 grant was recommended to provide netting around the courts, a motor mower and various minor oddments (that’s ‘bits and pieces’ !). Funny enough, this £81 was part of the residue of monies from World War 2 through to 1953 : Bucks County Rural Meat Pie Scheme – which was wound up in 1953, then central Government advised local government that local charitable causes / sports clubs should benefit (similar to the present Lottery)

Leslie Lemon (ex member from 1956) – in 1956 he recalled that there were very overgrown courts, there was a hut and nets around the courts. In his opinion, he believed that the courts had been left when WW2 was on. BTC was restarted by local Bierton Residents including John Haywood, Dolly and Eddie Taylor and the Davis’s. They had been playing on a private court at one of the Bierton houses in the village and decided to restart BTC. There was about a dozen members in these early restart days.

PCM 18th April 1957 : BTC had requested to play on a Sunday – the council allowed this (before this point there was no sport on the Recreation Ground on a Sunday)

1966 ‘For Members Only’ posted up on the BTC courts as per Parish Council minutes 7.6.1965

By the 1970’s the Football / Cricket Clubs only had to notify the Tennis Club on details of the Sports Ground – so that clearly showed a decline in the Tennis Club membership.

Joyce and Malcolm Baxter (ex-members from early 1970’s to the late 1980’s) : 1972 a third court was definitely at BTC. The three Grass Courts had what was known as the ‘Bierton Bounce’…..but even the members couldn’t use it to their advantage in matches as the courts were just so uneven !! The Baxter’s remember well their time as members and that Bierton Tennis Club was very social, but this social side faded as the year passed.

2 Hard Courts were built in the May 1990. The Club could then play more local League matches and have all year play. At the opening of these new courts was Mary Cuthbert who recalled playing on the grass courts on the Rec in 1929. A net post from one of the grass courts was still visible until just before the practice court/mini tennis court was built in 2016.

My comments/thoughts

There was clearly some sort of Bierton Tennis Club in existence before 1922, but I can find no record of it, or where it was. Looking at it logically, it must have been a grass court at someone’s garden in Bierton. The opportunity of taking this Club to the Recreation Ground in 1922 was just too good not to take up. Maybe the Club on the Recreation Ground started with two courts and then was increased to three in 1933 – as per a request in increasing the club size ?!? 

Up until the start of World War 2 in 1939, it appears that the Club was thriving and taking part in local Committee’s – I can find no mention in the Parish Minutes of there being any problems or issues. So why did BTC stop ? I think it was the upkeep of the grass courts and the War Work. Also, there was no running water into the Recreation Ground until 1948 – which would have made a re-start very hard work indeed.

I can find nothing in the Parish Minutes from 1944 onwards relating to merger intentions of Aylesbury Bell and BTC – I can only think that nothing happened.

1956 clearly the BTC restarted – but this was due to private individuals who had been playing on their court – so I can safely say that there has been at ‘active’ Bierton Tennis Club for 60 years since 1956. 

Sources

Many thanks to Louise Gattward for the lend of ‘The Story of Bierton’ book

Ex-members of BTC : Leslie Lemon, Joyce and Malcolm Baxter

Minute Books of Bierton Parish Council : AR94/2006 (Centre for Buckinghamshire Studies in Aylesbury)

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I am very happy if others want to continue on this ‘History of Bierton Tennis Club’ – the above should be considered a starting point to be added to. I’m sure others can add on lots of details (especially) of more recent years or look at things in different ways and add to accordingly.

Many thanks indeed

Simon Holding

31.08.16