The land on which Beckfoot Tennis Club was built was originally leased to the trustees of the club for 21 years from 1st May 1946, on condition that the sum of £15 rent was paid to the landlord, Thomas Bailey, each year on 1st September, beginning in 1947. The land was to be used for a private tennis club and the only building work allowed in addition to the courts was a club pavilion and shed. At the end of 21 years further short-term leases would be drawn up with rent increases every five years if the club wished to continue.
There are some wonderful black and white photographs hanging up in the clubhouse showing one of the founder members, Margaret Bailey, assisting in the original working party and rolling the ground ready for four shale courts to be built. Our records show that back in 1953 adult membership was £2/15 shillings!
From its inception Beckfoot became a thriving tennis club and when I applied to join in the mid-seventies you had to wait for approval from the committee. Thankfully I was accepted and the club has been my passion ever since. I have loved playing both socially and competitively and have made many enduring friendships. I am very proud to be the club president.
There are few locations better than here to play tennis, with the golf club on one side of Beckfoot Lane, the cricket club just beyond us, horses in the adjacent fields and a wide variety of birdlife to be found all around us.
Over time most shale courts in the area have gradually been replaced by tarmacadam or, at even greater expense, all-weather surfaces. It can be quite a challenge for the opposition to play here as the surface is unique, with spin being used to great effect. However, it does require immense dedication from our members, especially from February to April to do the essential court maintenance ready for the new season. Somehow we always get the job done in time!
Wherever possible we have managed to obtain small grants, which enabled us to save a lot of physical work by installing a sprinkler system and purchase extra equipment when funds in the bank were low. Our clubhouse is constantly being improved in order to attract new members.
Back in 1984 the records show we had 95 members, including 34 junior girls, 10 junior boys and eight intermediate youngsters. Unfortunately in recent years with technology advances and so many more activities available to them, the junior memberships have dwindled. Membership numbers in general have gradually been declining since there are now several established clubs in close proximity, some bigger and with more amenities.
When Bingley Tennis Club advised us they were closing their club in December 2012 and were interested in merging with Beckfoot it was a perfect solution for us both. On the 4th March 2013 we officially became Beckfoot and Bingley Tennis Club and now have a much stronger membership and healthier outlook for the future.
On the 3rd March 2015 a major milestone in the club's history came when, after years of trying, the resistance of the current landlord was broken and the club was able to purchase the land. Thanks to all those involved in the protracted negotiations and to all those club members who made generous donations and loans to make this achievement possible. As owners we can now apply to different bodies for more funds to keep upgrading the club facilities so that it can continue to be part of the Bingley community for many more years.
Deirdre Dorrington - President