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Anyone for Tennis?

A History of Tennis in Barwick-in-EImet from the 1920s to the present day.

The Barwicker editions 108 and 109 Dec. 2012 - March 2013

My father, Leslie Collett, and his sister, Olive, were keen members of the Barwick Club at this time and to recreate what it was like to play tennis in the village in those days, I trawled through the Skyrack Express reports for that period and, in particular, 1927 which was a good year for the Barwick Club. The Barkston Ash League was much smaller than the one which exists today having a membership of only six clubs. Nowadays teams can travel far and wide to compete and the current League, formed in 1949, has members all over the Leeds and York area.

Edition : Friday 10th June 1927
A Mixed Doubles tournament was held at Ledston Luck Welfare Tennis Courts on Monday June. 18 couples competed and were divided into 2 sections, Red and Blue. L Collett and Miss O Collett lost in the final of the Blue section to Mr F T Smith and Miss D Appleyard who then played Mr T Roberts and Miss M Johnson, winners of the Red section in the Grand final, Roberts and Miss Johnson winning.
Barkston Ash 10th June 1927
League Table P WL Pts
Barwick 330 6
Micklefield Welfare 4 31 6
Kippax White Hills 3 21 4
Aberford 413 2
Ledston Luck Welfare 404 0

Edition : Friday 24th June 1927
Barkston Ash League
(F T Smith, Secretary)

Match on Sat 18" June.
Barwick 105 games - Aberford 68 games.
League Table now stands at:-
League Table P WL Pts
Barwick 5 50 10
Kippax 5 41 8
Micklefield 5 3 2 6
Aberford 6 1 5 2
Ledston Luck 5 0 5 0

Edition of 8th July 1927
League Table P WL Pts
Barwick 6 6 0 12
Kippax 6 4 2 8
Micklefield 6 4 2 6
Aberford 6 1 5 2
Ledston Luck 6 0 6 0

Edition of 22nd July, 1927
Match on 1 July, 1927 - Barwick 73 games, Micklefield 103 games.
Barwick lost their first match but remain top of the League. The Barwick team was:-
Mr E. Hartley and Miss Helm 20 Games
Mr R Lovett and Mrs. Dearden 15 "
Mr F Kempton and Miss Lumb 16 "
Mr L Collett and Miss O Collett 22 "

Edition of 23rd September. 1927
On Saturday 17th September, the Barkston Ash League sent a representative team to play the League Winners, Barwick-in- Elmet. Fortunately the weather favoured the players but tennis was made difficult by the wind. After some exciting play, the League team ran out winners by 28 games. Barwick didn't have their full strength team out owing to illness and injury.
Final score - Rest of the League 86 games, Barwick 58 games. The Barwick team was:-
Mr F Kempton and Miss C Lumb
Mr E Hartley and Miss M Helm
Mr J Woodwark and Mrs Topham
Mr L F Kempton and Mrs. Kempton

In the evening following the final match, a dance was held in the Barwick School. A large gathering of people witnessed the presentation of the 'Stephen Cliff Cup to Mr E Hartley (Captain of Barwick) by Mr A Bedford, Manager of the Ledston Luck Colliery, who was introduced by Mr Woodwark. Mr Bedford said that the cup had been given for competition in the district where workpeople from Ledston Luck and Micklefield collieries lived, hence the additional title to the trophy "Micklefield, Ledston Luck and District". The speaker hoped that the cup would go to the Ledston Luck team but unfortunately they had merely been content to uphold the other clubs in the League. No doubt Barwick were worthy winners. He mentioned that the clubs had, in a very sporting way raised subscription lists in order to provide medals for the players of the winning team. Awards were presented to the following:-

Medals given to: Brooches given to:
Mr E Hartley (Capt.) Miss M Helm
Mr L Collett Miss O Collett
Mr R Lovett Mrs Dearden
Mr F Kempton Miss C Lumb

My father's medal was lost at sometime over the years but he discovered Olive's brooch amongst her effects when she died. He gave it to me when we set up the 4th 'new' Barwick Club. Our younger daughter, Andrea, became a keen member of the new Club from a young age and still plays regularly in matches and tournaments. As a memento of her Great Aunt's achievements, we had the brooch made into a pendant necklace for her. When Barwick won the Barkston Ash League 1st: Div. Mixed Doubles in 1995, Andrea went along to the Annual Dance and Presentation Evening wearing her pendant. During the evening she showed it to one of the League officials and was surprised and a bit upset when doubt was expressed about the truth of the story, even though the brooch is clearly inscribed on the back 'B.A.T.L. Winners 1927'. The official's view was that there could not have been a Barkston Ash League in those days as people would not have been able to travel the distances involved. I am pleased to be able to authenticate the tale!

The pendant made from the necklace awarded to Olive Collett.
Photo by P Styles
To help in my research, Mrs Freda Hewitt kindly loaned me a scrapbook containing cuttings of Barwick News from the Skyrack of the 1930's. Unfortunately, no specific dates are shown but I was able to glean information about Barwick tennis in the 1930's. Two tennis clubs thrived in the village one being 'The Barwick Tennis Club', no doubt the one which featured in the Barkston Ash League of the 1920's, and situated near the top of what is now Elmwood Avenue. The other club was known as the Wesleyan Tennis Club, originally sited somewhere down Aberford Road but later moved down Potterton Lane. The activities of both clubs are well reported in the Skyrack but it seems there was little or no interaction between the two. The Wesleyans competed against other Wesleyan clubs in the area such as Garforth, Kippax and Scholes Wesleyans, and Aberford "Imps" '(Imperial League) whereas the Barwick Club continued to play against the Barkston Ash teams.

The social activities of the two clubs differed which may have contributed to the lack of inter-action. The Barwick club held whist drives and dances, usually in the Miners' Welfare Institute although there are some reports of smaller whist drives being held in various members' homes. One report of the 'Tennis Club Annual Whist Drive and Dance' said that Mr W A. Lumb controlled 22 tables at whist, the winners being Mrs Allison (couple of ducks) and Mr L Collett (goose). Other prizes included ham, port, 2 cockerels and a hare. Mr R Lovett was MC and Fred Cook's band played. Another dance, also with Mr R Lovett as MC, featured music by the 'Suburban Syncopators'.

Many other well known Barwick names appeared in these reports such as Mr R Lumb, Miss C Lumb, Mr W Lumb, Miss W Hague, Miss A Kitson, Mr D Alvin, and Miss M Braithwaite (who was a cousin of mine being the daughter of Lina, another of my father's sisters).

A report regarding the Wesleyan Club's social and fund raising activities says 'Although the Club has been in existence for quite a good number of years, never before has such a novel way of raising funds and providing such a delightful time been put into action until Saturday when what is hoped will be a succession of annual rallies was held. Wesleyan players from Church Fenton, Kippax, Trinity Leeds, Scholes and various circuits, spent a very enjoyable day, all organised by Mr A G Thompson (Sec). Winners were Mr and Mrs. Challis of Scholes. Runners up were Mr Sykes and Miss Hogg of Trinity Chapel, Leeds, who beat Mr A G Thompson and Miss A Free in the semi's.'

It seems that this event did continue as another report regarding the Tennis Rally held at the Methodist Tennis Club new courts in Potterton Lane (note also the new name of the club) was won by Miss O Collett (playing as a gentleman) and Miss Mallerby who beat Mr A G Thompson and Miss Morritt. From about this time, the Skyrack notes no longer mention the Barwick Tennis Club but only report on the Methodist Club. This would suggest that the Barwick club may have disbanded and the fact that my Aunt Olive played in the Methodist Rally would support this view. There is also a report showing Mr S Banks partnering Miss H Robshaw in a match against Kippax Meths in which my Aunt partnered Mr A G Thompson, Barwick winning 11 sets to 5 .

Mr A G (Albert) Thompson lived in Garforth although playing his tennis in Barwick and seems to have played a major role in organising events and matches for the Club. He was also a prominent figure in the Methodist Church and did much work for the Chapels in Garforth, Barwick and the surrounding areas. Romance obviously bloomed in the Club as well, there being a picture of his wedding to Miss A.(Alice) Free in the Skyrack around this time.

(The second part of the article was published in Barwicker No. 109 in March 2013 follows)

Mr. Sydney Banks, now in his late 90's recently spoke at length to Jane Deacon about his life, including playing tennis, in and around Barwick and Aberford. His story has been put on record in The Barwicker in several fascinating articles, written by Jane (Issue 101 contains his memories of tennis in the 1930's). He mentions that members of the Barwick Methodists eventually joined forces with the Aberford club who had a hard court, so saving them the task of rolling and mowing the courts in Potterton Lane. Due to the move to Aberford and World War II looming, tennis in Barwick probably died out until the present club was formed in the early 1970's .


In the Autumn of 1972 the Barwick and Scholes Parish Council offered the residents of Barwick the opportunity to have a bowling green and 2 tennis courts provided from Council funds on the condition that proper clubs would be formed to administer these facilities. Members of the two clubs would be responsible for the provision of, and payment for, all additional amenities, such as pavilions, water/electricity supplies etc., and for all future maintenance and proper upkeep of the sites.

A public meeting was arranged to put forward these proposals and to establish whether enough people in the village were interested in taking on the two projects. The initial outcome was that provision of the bowling green was agreed and a number of people, notably Arthur Rose, Stan Parker and others promised that they could form a club to carry out the necessary work involved. The Barwick Bowling Club became a reality. Unfortunately, this was not the case regarding tennis and the council rejected this part of the plan due to lack of sufficient committed interest

However, Mr Ken Howard, a Parish Councillor, and the then Chairman of the Village Hall Committee, of which I was also a member, who had enjoyed playing tennis in his youth, thought this was a great opportunity missed. On the day of the original public meeting, I had been away on business and so had been unable to attend. I totally agreed with Ken and he suggested that I write to the Council to see if they would consider calling another meeting if I could show that I could generate enough support for the proposal. I was at that time Chairman of the Barwick Badminton Club and felt sure that I could get enough interest from the badminton players to form a tennis club as well. I duly wrote to the Council as Badminton Club Chairman, and at the Parish Council meeting on 23rd Jan 1973 it was agreed by a sub-committee that another Public Meeting be called to discuss the matter again.

At the second Public Meeting, in February, 1973, we managed to get a much improved attendance and, despite some sceptical questions raised by certain Council members, the provision of the courts was approved. The original site proposed for the courts was behind the goal on the football field but, on careful re-measuring, this was found to be not suitable. A pity really as the idea was to have all sporting facilities in the same area. However, the alternative site was approved in an overgrown area to the rear of Jack Heap's Field. Some objections were raised by older villagers who rightly stated that the field had been left for the benefit of the children of the village. We pointed out that it was hoped that young people would be encouraged to join the club and learn the game. In fact, soon after the Club was fully established, an arrangement was made with Mr. Naylor, the headmaster of the school, for the courts to be available on certain afternoons for supervised use by the children. A few years later, we were able to report that we had around 70 junior members.

Soon after approval was granted, we arranged for a First General Meeting to be held in the Village Hall on Monday 30th April 1973. A working committee was formed, chaired by Peter Glentworth, and included Michael Jones, Bill Brierley, Geoff Matthewson and many more willing workers - not least, Dave Wilkinson with his JCB which was invaluable for foundations and trenching. Regular working parties were organised and all members worked hard to build and fit out the pavillion and surrounding areas. Those with enough energy left enjoyed a few games of tennis afterwards.

Adult membership steadily increased and it was often difficult to get more than a couple of sets on very well attended club nights. Teams were entered in the Barkston Ash League and progressed well up the Divisions Some notable achievements over the years are:-
Barwick Mixed B - won Division 2 in 1981
Barwick Mixed A - won Division 1 and the League Knockout Cup in 1995
Barwick Mens won their Division in 1999, 2006, and 2008
Barwick Juniors (U 14) won their Division in 2010
In 1978, I again wrote to the Parish Council, this time as chairman of the Tennis Club, asking if it would be possible to get permission to have a third court, enabling us to enter a team in the Yorkshire League. This would also relieve the pressure on Club Nights. Permission was granted, but all costs for the development had to be borne by the Club. Floodlights were added in 1999 and are put to good use on the darker evenings.

My father presented a trophy in the late 1970's and he asked that it be awarded at an annual mixed tournament. This was because, as already reported, he and his sister Olive had enjoyed mixed tennis at the old Barwick club in the 1920s/30s. Partners were decided by a draw to give all abilities a chance and suitable handicaps to be decided by the organisers. The system usually worked well and several, perhaps less talented, members have managed a win over the years. My father died in 1981 and, in his memory, I gave a salver to be presented to the lady winner of the event. In 1983 I was fortunate, as a less talented player, to be drawn with Mrs. Pam Teed one of our better lady players at the time, and got my name on the Cup. Just a pity Dad wasn't there to witness my triumph.

Another cup, given to the Club only recently by Mr. Sydney Banks, is now presented annually to the winner of the Men's Singles Knock-out. As mentioned earlier, Mr. Banks played tennis in Barwick in the 1930's and won this cup in a Men's Singles Final at Aberford shortly before being called up for service in World War II. The cup was never contested again until he kindly gave it to the present club.

My wife, Elaine, and I gave up playing tennis some years ago but we like to know how the Club is getting on and get news from our daughter, Andrea, and other members past and present. We sometimes watch a game or two on a summer's evening and also try to be present at the Leslie Collett Tournament each year. New members are always welcome and it's a great way to make friends and socialise in the village. We certainly have many happy memories of summer tournaments followed by parties and barbeques. It is to be hoped that the Club will continue to play an important part in village sporting and social life for many years to come.


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