Broadstairs and St Peter's Lawn Tennis Club was formed on 9th June 1939 with its inaugural meeting held at 34 Osborne Road in Broadstairs, Kent. Some twenty members were present. Mr Ovenden was in the chair and Mr Webb was elected the first captain of the Club. Three grass courts were rented from the local council at St Peter's recreation ground in Callis Court Road. Privilege was extended to change these courts if and when they became worn. No mention was made of members subscriptions at this time but it was agreed that friends of members could play as visitors on payment of 1 shilling per session, 5 shillings per week and £1 for half the season.
Three months later, World War II was declared on 3rd September 1939 and it is believed that no play took place during the war years until 1945 when happily it restarted with a nucleus of stalwart members.
It was recorded that summer subscriptions in 1954 were £2.7s6d.
A new, small pavilion was built in 1964 at a cost of £425.
By the 1970s the Club had grown to around 120 members who were now playing on nine grass courts, two of which were reserved for junior members. There were a further four grass courts hired out by the Council for public use. Tennis balls were supplied by the Club at considerable expense until losses became too excessive. The balls were regularly given a new lease of life in a members washing machine and tumble dryer and eventually there were handed down to the junior section!
Children have always been encouraged to join and take advantage of the coaching that was offered. In the early days the starting age was 11 or over, somewhat old for nowadays. The junior section had been formed by 1957 and by the 1970s it was kept to a maximum of 70 children so that the Club could cope with the organised coaching once a week. At that time a separate Chairman and committee ran and organised the junior section.
In the 1950s, matches were being played against Margate, Walmer, Whitstable, Herne Bay, Canterbury, Ash and the Police. Since that time matches have extended further afield and are now played throughout the county.
In November 1957 the committee proposed to hold its first American Tournament and this was so successful that American Tournaments have become a regular feature in the Clubs calendar together with the Handicap and Open Tournaments.
The social amenities have always been popular and annual dinner dances have been held at least since the 1950s.
In 1969 electricity was installed in the pavilion and in 1973 an extension was built which added a further 4-5 feet along the front of the building at a cost of £506.70. There was at this time two changing rooms, three sinks, three cost water taps and a small kitchen area from which tea and refreshments were sold to members. There was no telephone. A small toilet block offered facilities for both ladies and gentlemen respectively.
Great emphasis has always been placed upon members clothing and successive committees have for many years discussed this issue at length. The all-white dress cost was modified internationally to be predominantly white and the Club adopted this change with regret after an extended committee meeting. The code has since progressed to include sportswear.
Footwear has also been an ongoing issue. In 1962 it was recorded that Miss Postelthwaite continued to play in bare feet and the Ladies Captain was asked, once more, to draw her attention to the Clubs ruling for proper attire!
A major improvement came in 1991 when three grass courts were converted to all-weather surface along with floodlighting, at a cost of £43,000, with loans from the LTA and Kent Playing Fields Association together with a grant from Thanet District Council. This enabled members to play all the year round instead of five months only in the summer which ran from April, weather permitting, until September. The Club signed an LTA agreement in which it promised to promote community tennis open to all members of the public with no restrictions and the traditional playing-in rule was therefore abolished.
The all-weather courts proved to be so popular with members that they were quickly followed by three more porous, tarmacadam courts in two-tone green together with floodlighting. During this time the grass courts for public use were deemed unprofitable so the responsibility for their upkeep was passed to the Club by Thanet District Council. The maintenance of all the remaining grass courts has imposed a financial burden on the Club. It was since established that the former courts 10, 11, 12 and 13 are not leased by the Club and have reverted to Council care.
Around the turn of the Century, the Clubs activities were extended to include further play on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, more social tournaments and events and more matches. The Club had a professional coach and two assistant coaches who provided training for both adults and juniors. At the request of the LTA, dress rules were relaxed completely apart from shoes, so that there was no discrimination.
Kitchen cabinets and a cooker were given to the Club and installed. A monthly email newsletter to members was started and web sites were set up giving details and pictures of our location, activities and much more.
In 2009 the Club was awarded the prestigious Tennis Clubmark, to recognise achievement of excellent standards. The Tennis Clubmark means the Lawn Tennis Association endorses and supports a clubs tennis programme, policies and procedures, action and development planning, and club management.
Now we have over 150 playing members both seniors and juniors ranging in age from 6 to 80+ with an equally wide spread of playing abilities from complete beginners through to county/national league players.
The Club has teams competing in the Kent and East Kent leagues and also in the National Club League.
While the Clubs main focus is obviously tennis, there are many other activities that take place among the members including: social events including dinner dances; suppers; afternoon barbecues at the Club and on the beach; bike rides; walks; table tennis matches; golf tournaments; badminton; and even a ski holiday in the French Alps.
Seventy years on from its creation, the Club has seen many changes but is still flourishing and provides sport and social activities for many people in Broadstairs and beyond.