THE WALKDEN AND DISTRICT TENNIS LEAGUE 1910 – 1920
GENESIS ……….IN THE BEGINNING………THE PIONEERS…………D.I.Y COURT BUILDERS
THE YEAR 1915
THE VENUE CHAPELFIELDS, LITTLE HULTON, WALKDEN
THE PIONEERS * Twenty keen tennis players of Walkden Westleyan Church eagerly faced the task of digging the foundations and laying a grass tennis court at Chapelfields (just off the A6 main road about a quarter of a mile west from where Bolton Road crosses it and where the Walkden Memorial used to stand). Many hours of work later the first game was played, and Walkden Wesleyan Church Tennis Club was born. Tennis proved a very popular pastime and the number of playing members increased. The First World War caused a decline in membership but, by 1919 it had risen again to 50. One court was found to be inadequate, so the enthusiastic players started work again and laid a second grass court.
(WOW !! Would we be as keen today to do it ourselves? )
The game was so popular that the courts were in use by working members from 6.00 p.m till dusk every weekday and all day on Saturday during the season. ( NO TENNIS ALLOWED ON SUNDAYS – OBSERVANCE OF THE LORD’S DAY WAS REQUIRED ). The cost to Members was half a crown (2/6) subscription annually and charges of 1d ( 1 old penny )per game for the hire of a club racquet for those players who did not possess one. Not content with playing tennis within their own club, friendly matches were played against other Clubs that had formed in the District. *
The information is from an article written in the 1972 “Smash Magazine” after the courts at Chapelfields were closed in 1971 and Walkden Wesleyan Methodist Church Tennis Club known then as Walkden Moor Methodist Church Tennis Club moved to play at M.E.L.
MORE D.I.Y. COURT BUILDERS……Up at Wesley Hall, Hill Top in 1920 Billy Mullineux suggested that they should have a tennis court. So a group of stalwart members worked together to that end. They drained the ground, got cinders from the Linneyshaw Moss and red shale from a colliery pit. It took them several months to complete. A photograph of the first players of the Club was taken into the offices of the Bolton and Farnworth Journal by Mr Joseph Ashcroft depicting himself at the age of 18 (standing second row 1st. from the right) next to Mr Mullineux. Mr Ashcroft was going to take the photograph with him when he visited a branch of his family in America to show them the intrepid group of tennis court builders and players.
Note the fashionable Ladies’ outfits plus headbands and the WOODEN RACQUETS !! But where are the fellows’ long white trousers ??? It appears that Wesley hall did not become a member of the League when it formed.
Photograph to go in here later
By the end of 1919 several Tennis Courts had been built and Clubs formed in Walkden and the surrounding area. Matches between several Clubs were organised and became popular and were thoroughly enjoyed. A new decade was on the way and new ideas were in the air.
CLICK ONTO THE NEXT DECADE TO DISCOVER HOW AND WHEN THE WALKDEN AND DISTRICT TENNIS LEAGUE FORMED AND WHO PROPOSED THE IDEA