Although there are no accurate records, it is believed that the Tennis Club was in existence in 1919. However, during the second world war, no tennis was played.
When the war ended, the club re-formed, thanks to the hard work and enthusiasm of one member, Miss Dora Knapp, who raised money from local shopkeepers. Dora eventually became the club’s President.
The club was often in financial difficulties but was frequently bailed out by Mr Copeman. At this time, the Patmore Memorial Grounds were shared by three clubs, Cricket, Tennis and Hockey and after Mr Copeman’s death, a corner in the Cricket pavilion was reserved in his memory and named ‘Copey’s Corner’.
His wife, Mrs Copeman, continued to be a staunch supporter and player at the Tennis Club and continued to play up to two weeks before she died at the age of 68 years. Seating and a Winner’s board were installed in the tennis pavilion as a memoriam.
The club currently has three hard, floodlit courts but in its early days had just two grass courts and the use of a third hard court, which was privately owned. With the help of grants and financial assistance from members and fund-raising activities, the two grass courts were converted to all-weather hard courts and the third, or top court, was eventually adopted by the club.
In April 1953, Miss Madeline Patmore, the owner of the grounds, decided to lease to four Trustees for a term of thirty years, with an option to renew for a further thirty years, at a nominal rent of one shilling a year. When Miss Patmore died, the grounds passed to the Trustees, with no further rent owing and are held in Trust in perpetuity, for as long as sport is played there. There are certain obligations in place to ensure that the Clubs maintain the grounds in good order.
In the 1980s, the Tennis Club members installed their own floodlighting on the two main courts, the third one remaining un-lit. This opened up all-year play, which was formerly limited to a short season from April to September. It enabled the club to enter winter tournaments and leagues, and membership soared.
The three clubs eventually became two when the Hockey Club, which shared a pavilion with the Tennis Club, decided to move its home ground in order to play on Astroturf. At this time, the Tennis Club obtained funding and converted the now unused team changing rooms into extra living space, enlarged the kitchen and put in showers and a utility area for storing equipment.
In 2007 further funding was obtained and the floodlights were renewed and extended to the top court. At the same time, the courts were cleaned and re-painted.
Membership fluctuates as in any club but there has been a slight recent up-surge. It is a great little club which holds three internal tournaments a year, has teams in the Essex Veterans league, Leigh & Westcliff leagues and Chelmsford & District leagues, including a junior team. The club also holds Charity tournaments and social activities and is always happy to welcome new members of all standards. Contact through the Hon Secretary on 01268 734901.