Over 110 years of tennis…
The City Lawn Tennis Club was established in 1898 when the 1st grass courts were laid to establish 5 courts, of which 3 remain to this day.
It is estimated that 30,000 tennis balls have been used at the club since it was opened.
The Tennis Club is situated in between public allotments on one side and a wild meadow on the other with a woodland area behind. It is understood the land on which the courts are laid was donated by Sir Richard Watts to the people of Rochester when he died in 1579. Indeed the meadow is currently known as Watt’s meadow and is looked after by local volunteers.
Sir Richard Watts was a successful businessman and a Member of Parliament for Rochester in the 1570s and was famed locally for his philanthropy. He also left money in his will to establish the Arms Houses in Maidstone Rd known as the Richard Watts Charity and Six Poor Travelers House in Rochester High Street.
The City Club was particularly popular in the 1920s and 1930s when players at that time won many of the local tournaments in the Medway area.
The present clubhouse was erected just after the 2nd world war and has survived a number of incidents in its lifetime the worst being the fire in the winter of 2004. The fire caused extensive damage and made it necessary to replace the entire roof with its present corrugated metal one.
The large and extremely heavy grass roller that lies in the Northern corner of the tennis courts and can just be seen in the top right corner of the home page photo is thought to have been at the club since it was opened. Club members can be seen rolling the grass on a Wednesday evening through April in preparation for the clubs opening on the 1st Saturday in May.
The popularity of playing on grass has waned in recent years forcing many lawn tennis clubs in the area to close. Indeed this is the reason 2 of the original courts were given up in the 1970s when they were converted into allotments.
The present members believe that grass is the only surface to experience the true game of tennis and are determined to keep the club open to allow future generations to forget their worries for a couple of hours and enjoy this healthy and social outdoor sport.
...If you have information that would provide additional detail regarding the club’s history please contact us by phone or email to let us know.