1920s

THE WALKDEN AND DISTRICT TENNIS LEAGUE IN THE ROARING TWENTIES …… 1920 -1929…………THE FOUNDERS……. THE LEAGUE FORMATION IN 1922……… THE FIRST SEASON………… INFORMATION ABOUT THE FOUNDER CLUBS………….LEAGUE GROWTH…………..A SECOND DIVISION……………

1920 – 1922 THE FOUNDERS…….. Enthusiasm for Inter Club Matches was increasing and in 1920 at a Club Committee meeting of Walkden Wesleyan Church Tennis Club a proposal was made that a fixed series of matches be arranged for the following year with other teams in the district. This arrangement proved very successful and resulted in a special meeting being arranged at Walkden Wesleyan Church Tennis Club early in 1922 to which other Clubs were invited to attend. Those present were:-
Walkden Wesleyan Methodist Church Tennis Club
Walkden Primitive Methodist Church Tennis Club
Walkden Congregational Church Tennis Club
Francis Street Congregational Church Tennis Club
(Farnworth)
St Paul’s Church (Walkden) Tennis Club
Little Hulton Tennis Club
Whittlebrook Primitive Methodist Church Tennis Club

At this meeting it was agreed by the seven Clubs to enter teams into a League to play competitive Tennis weekly through the season and to call the new League :-

THE WALKDEN AND DISTRICT TENNIS LEAGUE

Mr.Fred Potter of the Walkden Wesleyan Methodist Church Tennis Club was appointed organising Secretary of the new League. Mr George Jackson was appointed Chairman and Reverend W. Floyd was appointed President

THE FIRST SEASON 1922

A League of 8 teams was formed – 2 teams from St Francis Street Congregational Church Tennis Club and 1 team from each of the other 6 Founder Clubs. Rules and Format of matches were discussed and finalised. Fixtures were planned with matches starting on Thursday May 25th. with two pairs each of gents’doubles, Ladies’doubles and Mixed doubles battling it out. Who would be triumphant at the end of the season???

The EARLIEST ITEM printed in the BOLTON AND FARNWORTH JOURNAL appeared on MAY 19th 1922 and reads as follows :-

” WALKDEN LEAGUE
Tennis players in the district will be interested to learn that the Walkden and District League is now on a firm basis, and some keen sporting games should be played. The League consists of eight teams, viz.,Little Hulton, Walksen P.M., Walkden Wesleyans,St. Paul’s, Walkden Congregational, Whittlebrook Primitives, and two teams from Francis St.Congregational, Farnworth. For several weeks a strong and enthusiastic committee has been busy drawing up a constitution and drafting match rules, fixtures, etc. Under the Chairmanship of Mr. Geo, Jackson all difficulties were smoothed away at a meeting held at the little Hulton Pavillion on Tuesday. Matches will be played on Thursday nights and will consist of two pairs each of gents’ doubles, ladies’ doubles and mixed doubles. Now the League has materialised only the favour of the Clerk of the Weather is required to ripen the interest of the club players in the district.
Later in the season the League will probably organise a knock out competition on a large scale for members of League clubs. With the Rev. W. Floyd as President, the League has secured the interest and support of several prominent local ladies and gentlmen. Messrs J.Hope and J. Lindley are appointed auditors, and Stobart Rawlinson trustee. The first matches will be played on Thursday May 25th. when the fixtures are:-

Little Hulton v. Whittlebrook Primitives
Francis St.Congregational “A” v. Walkden Primitives
Walkden Wesleyans v. St Paul’s
Walkden Congregational v. Francis St. “B”

All communications should be addressed to the secretary Mr. Fred Potter, 25, Thorgood (?) Walkden. ”

It appears that WALKDEN CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH TENNIS CLUB withdrew from the League in the six days between the publication of the above article (19/06/22) and the start of matches(25/06/22). STARCLIFFE METHODIST CHURCH TENNIS TEAM from Starcliffe Street,Moses Gate took its place.

THE FIRST CHAMPIONS

At the end of the season STARCLIFFE PRIMITIYVE METHODIST CHURCH TEAM were the WINNERS of the League and CHAMPIONS !!!

THE CHAMPIONS TROPHY

A magnificent wooden shield embossed with an impressive large central silver plaque bearing the name of the League was purchased and a small silver shield with the year and the name of the winning Club was attached at the edge of the shield.
(This trophy is still the 1st Division Trophy and bears all the names of the Clubs who over the years have been successful in being the Champions of the League.)

PHOTOGRAPH TO GO HERE

INFORMATION ABOUT THE FOUNDER CLUBS.

WALKDEN WESLEYAN CHURCH TENNIS CLUB :- laid 1 grass court in 1915 at Chapelfields on sports ground ( bought in memory of those who had died in World War 1), behind the school which was on the A6 (Manchester Road East) 1/2 mile west from the centre of Walkden. The Church was on the opposite side of the road. The new Walkden Methodist Church in on the site of the old school.
:- laid a second grass court in 1919
:- had laid a shale court by 1923.
Total 3 courts
1922 entered 1st team in the League. (Played 1922 – 1939 )
1924 entered a second team in the League.(Played 1924 – 1932 )
In 1933 chamged name to Walkden Methodist Church Tennis Club.
In 1934 changed name again to Walkden Moor Methodist Church Tennis Club.
In 1934 re-entered a second team in the League.
1ST TEAM
DIVISION 1 CHAMPIONS IN 1931 AND 1932 AS WALKDEN WESLEYAN CHURCH T.C.
2nd. TEAM
DIVISION 2 CHAMPIONS IN 1928 AS WALKDWN WESLEYAN CHURCH T.C.
DIVISION 2 CHAMPIONS IN 1934 AS WALKDEN MOOR METHODIST CHURCH T.C.

The Club was the only one to take part in the League continuously from its formation in 1922 to 1939 when war broke out.

WALKDEN PRIMITIVE METHODIST CHURCH TENNIS TEAM :-had 1 shale court in 1922 and by 1923 had 1 more shale court
Total 2 courts
1922 entered 1st Team in the League. (Played 1922 – 1924)
(Played 1926 – 1929)
1924 entered 2nd. Team in the League. (Played 1924)
(Played 1926 – 1929

FRANCIS STREET CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH TENNIS TEAM :- had 2 shale courts by 1923
1922 entered 1st. team in the League (Played 1922 – 1925)
(Played 1927 – 1935)
1922 entered 2nd. team in the League (Played 1922)

ST. PAUL’S CHURCH TENNIS CLUB :- had 3 grass courts in 1923
1922 entered a team in the League (Played 1922 – 1924)

LITTLE HULTON TENNIS CLUB :- had 1(?) court in 1922
1922 entered 1st team in the League (Played 1922 – 1927/28)
1924 entered 2nd.team in the League (Played 1924 – 1927/28)

WHITTLEBROOK PRIMITIVE METHODIST CHURCH TENNIS CLUB :- had 1 (?) court in 1922
1922 entered 1st.team in the League (Played 1922)
(Played 1925 – 1926)
1925 entered 2nd.team in the League (played 1025 – 1926)

STARCLIFFE PRIMITIVE METHODIST CHURCH TENNIS CLUB :- had 1 shale court in 1922
1922 entered 1st team in the League (Played 1922 – 1927/28)
1924 entered 2nd.team in the League (Played 1924 – 1926)
CHAMPIONS OF THE LEAGUE IN THE FIRST YEAR – 1922

THE FIRST TOURNAMENT
During the first season the Walkden and District League ran a Doubles Tournament for the members of all the Clubs. A gents’ doubles pair from the Starcliffe Primitive Methodist Tennis Club, Messrs.J. Evans and A Lever won the Gents’ competition and Mrs. E Yates and Miss J. Owen from Walkden Wesleyan Church Tennis Team won the Ladies’ Doubles competition.

THE FIRST INTER-LEAGUE MATCH
A team from the Walkden and District League played a match against the Bolton Sunday School Tennis League at one of their venues. The match was very competitive and ended in the Bolton Sunday School League team winning by a few points. Unfortunately a return match could not be arranged that season.

THE BOLTON AND FARNWORTH JOURNAL printed the following end of season report :-

” SUCCESSFUL WALKDEN LEAGUE

The Walkden League concluded their programme last week, and the Committee have every reason to feel gratified at the success that attended their first season. In the nature of an experiment the League has proved that something of the kind was needed following on the bonus of the previous year, and there is little doubt that next year its activities will be greatly enlarged. A great deal of interest has been created amongst the various Sunday Schools participating and in tennis circles generally, and the team rivalry has resulted in many fine games. The Committee have also run a tournament and an inter-League game with the Bolton League which ended with the latter winning by a few points. It is getting rather late in the season now, but one would have liked to see a return encounter on one of our grounds, which might have been the means of equalising matters. It is hoped that these inter-League games will become an annual event. The winners of the tournament were Messrs. S. Evans and J. Lever (Starcliffe) and
Mrs. J Owen and Mrs. E. Yates(Walkden Wes.)

LEAGUE TABLE

NAME OF TEAM____Pl….W….D….L……GF……GA……POINTS

Starcliffe P.M_____14….14…0….0…459….299….28

Walkden Wesley____14….10…1….3…406….219….21

Walkden P.M.TC____14…..8…0….6…400….362….16

Francis St “A”____13…. 6…1….6…345….354….13

St. Paul’s T.C______14…..5…1….8…357….368….11

Francis St.”B”______13…..4…1….8…277….330…..9

Little Hulton_______13…..3…2….8…335….234…..7

WhittlebrookTC____13…..0…2…11…..281……383………2

The micro film containing the above report and table was difficult to read and I have tried to be as accurate as was possible.

Obviously the Drawn results were really matches which had not been played most likely due to rain making courts unfit for play. ( Still the same old problem today for Clubs with shale courts !!)

 

1923 – THE SECOND SEASON…….CHANGES ARE ABOUT TO HAPPEN !!

At the Annnual General Meeting held at the beginning of 1923 Mr. Geo Jackson resigned as Chairman of the League and Mr. S. Evans of Starcliffe Primitive Methodist Church Club was appointed as the new Chairman. Rev. stepped down as President and Dr. J.H. Marsh was appointed to the position.
A change in the format of matches was agreed. The first pair to reach EIGHT GAMES (instead of 6) would win the set. There were still 6 sets in a match (2 Mens’doubles, 2 Ladies’ doubles and 2 Mixed doubles). A match was decided by the number of games won.
Still today sets in the matches of the Walkden and District Tennis League are played to EIGHT GAMES which makes it different from other Leagues in the surrounding towns.
( So now you know where the format that will be played in thi

Four new Clubs were accepted into the League in 1923.

HIGHFIELD TENNIS CLUB – had 5 shale courts on the Farnworth
housing site in 1923
1923 entered 1st. team in the League (Played 1923 – 1824)
HIGHFIELD WERE THE LEAGUE CHAMPIONS IN 1923

ST. THOMAS’S CHURCH TENNIS TEAM :- had 3 shale courts in1923
1923 entered 1st. team in the League (Played 1923 – 1925)
1924 entered 2nd. team in the League (Played 1924 – 1925)

NEW BURY WESLEYAN CHURCH TENNIS CLUB :- had 2grass courts
in 1923
1923 entered 1st. team in the League (Played 1923 – 1925)
(Played 1933 – 1937)
1924 entered 2nd. team in the League (Played 1924 – 1925)

KEARSLEY MOUNT CHURCH TENNIS CLUB :- had 2 shale courts next
to the Farnworth cricket ground
1923 entered a team in the League (Played 1923 – 1926)

The 1923 League consisted of 11 Teams

At the end of the season HIGHFIELD TENNIS CLUB were the CHAMPIONS. Their name was placed on the Champions shield.

President Dr.Marsh arranged for a match to be held between the Highfield team and a team chosen by himself from the rest of the League. The match was played with four men and four Ladies per team, in the usual League format, except that each pair played to the best of three standard sets against their two opposing pairs. The match report states that there was only a difference of 2 games between the teams but unfortunately the final score is unreadable on the archive micro film and so the winners are unknown but obviously the match was played very competitively.

 

INTER-LEAGUE MATCHES – 1923 / 1924 ……1927

In 1923 Inter-League competition between the Walkden League and Bolton League continued and matches continued annually until 1926.
The Leigh League formed in 1924. Whether there were regular matches in the early years between League Teams is not clear but by 1927 an annual match was established.

 

1924 – LEAGUE GROWTH……….A SECOND DIVISION FORMED!!

The game of Tennis was becoming more popular. League Clubs had more members wanting to play competitively in the League.
One Division could not accomodate any more teams so at the 1924 Annual General Meeting a big decision was taken and a Second Division was introduced into the League for the second teams of the participating 11 Clubs. All except Kearsley Mount Church Tennis Club and St. Paul’s Church Tennis Club entered teams.

NEW TEAM
1924 LITTLE LEVER WESLEYAN CHURCH TENNIS CLUB :- had 2 shale
courts in 1922/23
1924 entered a team in the League (Played 1924 – 1927/8)

In the years which followed the number of teams in the Second Division varied. When only four teams were entered they played each other at home and away twice making 12 matches in total.
In later years the Second Division was not composed exclusively of second teams. New teams joining the League were put into the Second Division

 

LITTLE HULTON ‘S DOUBLE SUCCESS !!! THE SECOND DIVISION TROPHY PURCHASED

Both teams from the Little Hulton Tennis Club were triumphant in the 1924 season and each became the Champions by winning their respective Divisions. A DOUBLE SUCCESS which the Teams repeated in 1926 and 1927. Little Hulton 1st. team actually won the 1st. Division for FIVE consecutive years (1924 – 1928). Unfortunately the Club left the League in 1928 after the Double Success of that year. A new Shield was purchased as the Second Division Trophy and the name of the first winner mounted on it.

 

!925 – 1929 FURTHER GROWTH

NEW CLUBS.
1925 MARKET STREET INSTITUTE TENNIS CLUB (aka. Market Street
Congregational Church :-had courts at Moor Hall)
1925 entered 2 teams in the League (Played – 1925 – 1934)

1925 COBDEN TENNIS CLUB (possibly connected with
Cobden Mill,Farnworth) :- had 2
cinder courts on their recreation ground
1925 entered 2 teams in the League (Played 1925 – 1926)

1927 KEARSLEY WESLEYAN CHURCH TENNIS CLUB :-
1927 entered 2 teams in the League (Played 1927 )

1928 GUILDHALL TENNIS CLUB :- had 2 shale courts at the
Guildhall in Walkden
1928 entered 2 teams in the League (Played 1928 – 1941
(rejoined the League 1952 and still playing there in 2012)
2nd. TEAM SECOND DIVISION CHAMPIONS 1932 and 1935
1st. TEAM FIRST DIVISION CHAMPIONS 1936

During these years changes were made in the League. In 1927 Mr. S Greenhalgh became the new Chairman.
In 1928/9 a significant change occurred in the League. It was decided to change the points awarded for winning a match to 3 points instead of 2. A Tied Match (Draw – equal final scores)
would earn 2 points and an unplayed match due to rain would earn 1 point. This point allocation remained until 1935 when it was reversed. However in 1952 the League returned to the 3,2,1 point allocation.

 

NUMBER OF CLUBS IN THE LEAGUE BY YEAR FROM 1922 – 1929

YEAR……CLUBS……DIV.1……DIV.2

1922………7……….8…………X
1923……..10………10…………X
1924……..11………11………..9
1925……..11………11……….10
1926………9……….9…………8
1927………9……….9…………5
1928………?……….?…………?
1929………4……….8…………X

 

OPENING TOURNAMENTS IN THE SURROUNDING TOWNS

FARNWORTH An Open Tournament, started in 1922, was held annually until round about 1936. The venue was the public courts Darley Park.

KEARSLEY An Open Tournament, started in 1925, was held annually until the 1930’s.

BOLTON An Open Tournament was held in 1926 and 1927 at Bolton School (Girl’s Division) playing fields, Chorley New Road. Some matches in the early rounds were played on other local courts.
( There had been plans for a similar tournament in 1924 to be held at Leverhulme Park, but it seems that it did not take place.)
The Open Tournament was revived in 1935 as an annual event and continued after World War 2 . It was still held at the same venue. The 1953 Tournament was described as the “11th.” It was generally in these days referred to as the BOLTON CHARITY TOURNAMENT. Today it is known simply as THE BOLTON TOURNAMENT and takes place around the third week in July each year and is well supported by players from a wide area.

WALKDEN The Farnworth and Worsley Journal of Nay 1st. 1931 reported on an inaugural to plan a local Open Tournament.

READ ON ABOUT TO FIND OUT WHAT HAPPENED AND FOR MORE INFORMATION IN THE NEXT DECADE…. THE1930s