While devouring these my mind began to wander to all those locations I once knew in the our East End where it was possible to play tennis. On Sundays there was once a council regulation about enjoying oneself in one of its open spaces. If you were caught you might have had to present yourself at a court of the legal variety – a couple of young men playing an informal game of footy in Camp Road were apprehended by a well-turned-out police officer and were delivered a fine for breaking a bylaw.
|Courtesy St Albans Tennis Club|
Three other opportunities opened up for play. In the 1930s the County Council decided to install courts at its secondary schools. But generally this meant when schools were in session, or by arrangement with a member of staff and the caretaker on Saturday. School courts were, and still are, largely unused throughout the summer holiday period.
Then there were the private clubs, such as the Salisbury Tennis Club (still extant), and Trinity Church Club in Camp Road, now Ulverston Close. Or those belonging to factories. Hence the former Ballito sports ground at Smallford, or the Peake's courts in Cell Barnes Lane. There was also a court or two to one side of the Campfield Press.
|A pre-war garden court, when there was space.|
Instead, garden courts have been replaced by modern clubs and sports centres, such as at Jersey Lane and Cell Barnes Lane, which cater for tennis players, among others. The gardens have become grassed spaces for the children to kick balls around, and when they have left home, the occasional garden party and a zone for today's golfing dads to practise potting a few holes. Come to think of it, we did that at home when we were children; only then it was a game called clock golf, and played on the same worn lawn on which we also played French cricket, which was safer than English cricket, which kept our's, and the neighbour's windows in tact and saved our parents' embarrassment when it came to an apology and compensation.