History


We are proud of our history and what we have achieved from our founding back in 1880 though to the current day. We strive to make things better and provide facilities that all our members, and visitors can enjoy. You will find some further information in the sections below.

Interesting historical facts about Bexley Club
  • 1880 Club founded in Bradbourne Fields, Parkhurst Road, Bexley, Kent.
  • 1893 Wooden Pavilion erected. (It lasted for 104 years).
  • 1908 Year's tennis subscription £1.6s.0d. (130p).
  • 1914 The South East and Chatham Railway arranged for the 11.56 pm train from Dartford to stop at Bexley and Sidcup for the benefit of members travelling home after the annual dance!
  • 1927 Club joined Kent Lawn Tennis Association and entered the County Leagues.
  • 1936 First Bexley Open Junior Tennis Tournament held.
  • 1939 Table Tennis introduced to Club which had far reaching implications as it was the Table Tennis Association which made the club aware of Government Grants to improve sports facilities, in 1964, which enabled the Squash Courts to be constructed.
  • 1941 The war forced the Club to close until 1946. The grass courts were cut by hand as there was no petrol available for the mower. A pony, complete with overshoes, pulled the roller.
  • 1945 Pavilion damaged by a flying bomb.
  • 1946 Bowls section closed and croquet equipment placed in store.
  • 1949 Mains electricity installed.
  • 1950 A.R. Potter (Club President) purchased the ground from Oxford University to enable the Club to remain in situ. He permitted the club to rent it from him for £45 per year with the option to purchase the ground when funds permitted.
  • 1953 Telephone installed in the pavilion.
  • 1957 Mains drainage and sewer constructed but not linked to club's system. Elsans still used and emptied by Honorary Secretary (Ian Wright)!
  • 1960 Club Members purchased ground from the Potter family for £1,500.
  • 1962 Main gates removed and slope constructed giving access to cars in addition to the bicycles.
  • 1963 Gas installed for heating showers and flush toilets fitted into brick extension, constructed by members on a self-help basis.
  • 1965 Original changing room for male members, subsequently used as a refreshments room, was removed to make way for a third shale court (now the “cage” ) and overhead sprinkler system and ground store added.
  • 1965 Squash added and Club affiliated to Squash Rackets Association. First court cost £3,800 to build and fees were 10p per player per 40 minutes session.
  • 1966 Snooker and billiards introduced.
  • 1967 Second Squash court added for only £3,000. Low cost made possible by Ian Wright (Club Secretary) acting as site foreman.
  • 1968 Prime Minister, Edward Heath, visited Club and it featured on TV.
  • 1969 All three Tennis teams participated in Division 1 of the Kent County LTA League for the first time. The nominated players were: (Men) Brian Francis & Ray Roberts, Stan Crowther & Ian Wright, Bill Gillespie & Bob Paterson. (Ladies) Kath Garratt & Gladys Whiffen, Barbara Fordred & Pat Wright, Anita Gadd & Diane Lockwood. (Mixed) Brian Francis & Anita Gadd, Ian Wright & Pat Wright, Ray Roberts & Gladys Whiffen.
  • 1971 Club hosted the only International and Amateurs versus Professionals ties ever to be held in Kent.
  • 1973 The third Squash Court was constructed at a cost of £6,000
  • 1975 Squash court fee increased from 10p to 20p per player per 40 minutes game.
  • 1976 Bar taking exceed £10,000 for first time.
  • 1979 Three Tennisquick courts constructed on site of original grass courts with two floodlit. The £28,000 improvement scheme was financed by members with a bond scheme, together with Sports Council and Local Authority grants.
  • 1983 Three Playdek tennis courts replaced the shale courts. The latter had replaced the bowls and croquet area in 1951.
  • 1984 Club affiliated as a founder member of the British Racketball Association.
  • 1989 Wooden Pavilion extended in brick to include lobby and notice board area.
  • 1990 High level floodlighting erected on two tennis courts.
  • 1991 Last three grass courts resurfaced with cushioned acrylic finish and card system to open pavilion and Squash court doors installed. Gas heating fitted in Squash Courts
    1993 Planning permission granted for replacement two storeys brick built club house with two additional glass backed squash courts and resurfacing of two Tennisquick tennis courts.
    1997 Lottery money of one quarter of a million pounds granted to club.
    1998 Completion of new club house, two new squash courts, two resurfaced tennis courts and extended car park (on site of 1893 original pavilion).
A bit more history..

William Hart Dyke, a pupil at Harrow School in the late 1850’s, won the World Rackets Championship, the first champion not to have learned the game in the debtor’s prisons !

He was very unhappy with the condition of the Rackets courts, at Harrow School, so much so that he raised money to construct an indoor Rackets court costing £1,600. The court is still playable some 140 years later.

Almost by accident, William built the first Squash courts at Harrow, by cutting up one of the old Rackets Courts to make four Eton Fives Courts and three Rugby Fives Courts. These were of a suitable size in which to play with rackets and a rubber ball.

In 1865 some of the school boys played a game with sawn off Rackets rackets (3 inches longer than present day Squash Rackets) and a rubber squashy ball, the forerunner of the game we play today SQUASH RACKETS.

William, later Sir William Hart Dyke, a Member of the House of Commons for forty years, lived near Bexley in the historic family mansion, Lullingstone Castle, in Eynsford. It was in the grounds of the castle that he experimented with the size and shape of Lawn Tennis courts, trying the Hour-Glass shape with the net (a ladder resting on two beer barrels), in the late 1870s.

The scene was recreated in 1938 with family members and friends wearing clothing, as worn in the late 1880s,on the lawn in front of the castle.
The Bexley Lawn Tennis Club was founded in May 1880 and is the World’s third oldest Lawn Tennis Club still on its original site. It was very fitting that Sir William became Club President and is pictured, in the Clubhouse, on the occasion of the opening of the wooden pavilion in 1893.

This pavilion lasted for just over 100 years until a lottery grant of £300,000 enabled the present building to be constructed in 1998. The then, Right Hon. Sir William, Hart Dyke, PC. was President of the Tennis and Rackets Association in the mid-1920’s and it was his Committee which formulated the Rules of Squash, just prior to thefounding of the SRA in 1928, and there have been few changes so they have stood the test of time.

Ian Wright, Club Secretary, introduced the game of Squash to the club in 1965 and acted as foreman to build the second court for under £3,000 in 1967. The court fee for 40 minutes was 10p per player. Some ten years later, Ian experimented with some short handled rackets and the core of a tennis ball as an alternative game for dual use of Squash Courts.

Ian wrote a set of rules and a constitution for an association for this new game of Racketball.

On 13th February 1984, in Stourbridge LTC, the British Racketball Association was founded, having adopted Ian’s Rules and Constitution and elected Ian as its first Honorary Secretary.

The Sports Council, on 30th October 1984, officially recognised the British Racketball Association as the Governing Body for the sport. Membership stood at 55 clubs with 239 individual members.

By 1988 the Individual Membership of the British Racketball Association stood at 650 members and a Sports Council survey found there to be 30,000 players in the UK.

In 1998, control of the game passed to England Squash, with Ian Wright, as Vice President of the Governing Body, becoming Chairman of the Racketball Committee.

The game has flourished in the Bexley Club with 72 players in the internal Racketball League and the Club teams, arguably, the best in the South East of England.
Bexley Club Members have won Kent and England Championships
KENT CHAMPIONS:
Rob Lewis and Mark Steeden,
Nick Eagle (Over 35), Ray Jennings (Over 35), Paul Slater (Over 35),
John Prowse and Peter Lewis (Over 55), Ian Wright (Over 65), Nicky Slater (Over 35).
ENGLAND CHAMPIONS
Ian Wright (Over 50, Over 65 and Over 70), Peter Lewis (Over 55),
John Prowse (Over 60), Paul Slater (Over 35).