Club History

Southbourne Tennis Club was formed in 1965 from the amalgamation of two separate local clubs. Scroll down for a current member’s personal account of the club’s origins.

The club operates as a non profit making, limited company by guarantee. Every full member is a shareholder with a limited liability of £1.

Significant changes were made to the facilities in 2003 with the resurfacing of 3 courts to a porous acrylic surface and new floodlights were added to a further 3 courts.The club received lottery funding and LTA loans to enable them to improve the facilities.

In 2008 further lottery and LTA funding allowed the construction of a mini tennis zone and refurbishment of the clubhouse with the addition of a kitchen.

The club is situated in Southbourne, an area of mixed demographic with a large population of families.The adjoining town of Christchurch is close by with an ageing population and families. Boscombe lies to the west with a mixed population, with some special needs.

There are other council run tennis courts in the area where small clubs operate but they do not have the same facilities such as floodlights or mini tennis zone.There is no private members club in the immediate vicinity.

Existing facilities are good compared to competitors, although 3 floodlights will need to be replaced in the next 2-3 years.The club would like indoor facilities but this is unlikely to be possible in the next 5 years due to the expense of the above.

The club is managed by a committee and is working towards Tennis Clubmark.

The club considers it has a good all round programme and provides a wide range of tennis coaching, playing and competitive opportunities for both members and non members. This can be expanded upon with additional members, where more streamlining of players would be possible.

Marketing is a key area for the club and we try to attract new members by various means including via the website and advertising, open days, school events and regular contact with local schools with curriculum coaching and after school clubs.

Here follows a brief history of Southbourne Tennis Club from the personal recollections of a long standing member:

“Southbourne Tennis Club was formed when two existing clubs amalgamated in the Spring of 1965, namely Riverside and 23rd. As a former member of the 23rd club, I have much more detailed information about that club than Riverside.

Riverside played on the present Southbourne site but with fewer courts while the courts for 23rd were accessed along an unmade track at the top of the hill in Seafield Road, between Carbery Avenue and Tuckton Road. In those days, Leigham Vale Road was a cul-de-sac, entered from the top end of Carbery Avenue. There was a playing field at the far end, used by a private preparatory school on Southbourne Road, by the junction with Tuckton Road.

To most people, 23rd may seem to be an unusual name for a tennis club but the name was based on the fact that the founding members were very active in organising and running the 23rd Bournemouth Scout Troop. Sadly the Troop no longer exists.

The opening of 23rd took place on Saturday, 4 April 1925 on Darracott Road. The court was hired at a cost of 30 guineas, a somewhat high price in those days! In 1926, the club moved to two courts at Kiddle’s in Iford Lane. This was situated near the Old Waterworks site, adjacent to the current Southbourne Tennis Club courts. Mr Kiddle owned a car bodywork spraying and repair business in a series of dilapidated corrugated iron sheds on the Old Waterworks site. This was later developed into the private residential properties you can see today. These courts would eventually beome home for the Riverside Club. Mr Kiddle also hired out rowing boats and canoes to the public. An elderly neighbour once recounted how members would often go punting on the river after a game of tennis.  

At some point after World War II, 23rd moved to Seafield Road. There they had 4 courts and a wooden ex-army hut as a pavilion. These courts were situated at the rear of the properties in Carbery Avenue and Seafield Road. Eventually the two landlords, Freda Curry (of The Curry Empire) and Stan Thunder (of Thunder & Clayton Wholesale Newsagents in Holdenhurst Road) received approaches to sell the site for residential development, to which they agreed. Subsequently, the landlords made a very generous offer to repay 23rd all the rent they had paid up until then. This was gratefully received and, with the proceeds, it was possible to buy out the two Riverside landlords, Mr Kiddle and Mr Beswarick, and establish Southbourne Tennis Club, where it stands today, as a limited company free from any landlords. In the unlikely event that the club is ever sold, no member can benefit as all monies would be paid to the Playing Fields Association. The pavilion on the 23rd site was transferred to the Southbourne site to supplement the existing small wooden structure. Sadly an arson attack largely destroyed this structure, including all the Honours Boards. A significant loss of historical importance.

Finally, Leigham Vale Road was developed and extended through to Seafield Road. The properties that were developed are clearly evident towards the Seafield Road end.”

Many thanks to Derek for his time putting together his memories of how the club came to be where it is today. All this is based on personal recollection and both the contributor and the club would love to hear from others who may have further information to expand our understanding of the history of Southbourne Tennis Club.