A piece of tennis history – an interview with Basil Sturdy.

I recall that the first public tennis court in Masham was behind the King’s Head Hotel next to Ibbetson Close and this was in the late 1940’s after the Second World War. There was one grass court and it had fallen into disrepair.

In 1950, two tennis courts were built on Paradise Field (now Westholme Court) together with a very fine pavilion with all ‘mod cons’ and the end lawn of the pavilion was made into a children’s playing field. The land for Paradise Field was donated by Mr and Mrs Edward Jameson and the courts funded by Mr and Mrs J W Heddon in memory of the local men and women who lost their lives in the 1939-45 war.

The courts were opened by Lady Swinton in September 1951. The tennis club thrived and played lots of matches as well as holding Annual Party Balls in the Town Hall during the 1950’s. These became slightly less formal Annual Dances in the 1960’s! Mr Reynolds was our first Chairman, Mr Braithwaite the Secretary and Treasurer. Lady Swinton was President and was eventually succeeded by Mrs Bardsley-Powell. Elsie Taylor, our President today, was on the original Committee.

In the 1960’s the club joined the Harrogate & District League and won the mixed doubles on more than one occasion. Mark Curry, once of Blue Peter TV fame, was a member and Richard Whiteley also presented trophies at some annual dinners.

Certain occasions stand out in my mind such as in 1960 when the club celebrated the centenary of the Masham Show……and again in 1977 for the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations… …and in 2002 the Queen’s Golden Wedding for which we won prizes! 

In 1983 we became part of the Masham Sports Association. The land at Paradise Field was sold for housing development and this funded our present, picturesque courts next to the cricket and football fields by the river Ure.