Crowthorne Tennis Club is situated off Nine Mile Ride between the village of Crowthorne and the market town of Wokingham in the county of Berkshire, the heart of the UK’s Thames Valley. The tennis club is also within easy reach of North West Surrey and North Hampshire. With four floodlit all-weather courts, play is possible all year round up to 11 o’clock in the evening.
In 2001 the new clubhouse arrived, regular coaching was introduced and the club was opened to beginners. Since then our membership has increased significantly, with players of all standards joining. Nevertheless, the courts are rarely full and we welcome new members at any time during the season. Our floodlights were extended in 2003 to cover all four courts which were resurfaced in 2006. Improvements to the environment around the clubhouse have further enhanced the club and made it a safer and better place to play tennis.
In 2011 the courts were repainted in the new colour combination of blue on green, a path with lights linking the courts to the pavilion was added in 2012 and in 2016, two courts were repainted and two resurfaced and painted resulting in much improved drainage and surface grip.
Plans are now being put in place to provide a new clubhouse with toilets, changing facilities and social space included.
The standard at Crowthorne Tennis Club is mixed, so there’s no need to feel daunted if you’re new to the game or you haven’t played for a while. We offer free coaching to beginners and, with two Adult coaching sessions on Monday night and another on Wednesdays, even if you’ve never played before, you can join the club and start enjoying the game. Our Beginners & Improvers club night on Wednesday evenings provides an opportunity for beginners to start playing sets and also provides an opportunity for more able players wanting to play at a less demanding level. We promote Friday night as a club session for all levels of player.
Monthly Ladies’ Tennis Afternoons have proved popular since their introduction in 2017.
More experienced players will find plenty of challenges too. In addition to the Tuesday and Friday club nights and the Tuesday and Thursday afternoon club sessions for social play, we have teams entered in the Berkshire Doubles and Team Tennis Leagues, including Veterans.
With singles box leagues and social tournaments from time to time and the annual club championships. there is plenty of opportunity for competitive play as well. Our Thursday night Match Practice sessions for team standard players has proved its worth in the improved positions of our teams in the leagues.
We’ve had mini-tennis coaching for a while and 10 year olds and under can become Mini members; we entered a 10 and under mixed league team in 2019 for the first time. Juniors, aged 11 to 18, play in the Winter and Summer Leagues and a program of activities including regular coaching, squad practice and a Friday club night in the Summer under the direction of our Junior Manager, provide ample opportunities for our youngsters. A Junior Box League is available to give minis and juniors more competitive singles.
In this sometimes over-competitive age, friendly tennis clubs can be hard to find. However, the welcoming attitude of the club cannot be emphasised too strongly, as our members are well aware that joining a new club can be a daunting prospect. We are not as big as some Berkshire tennis clubs; we are certainly not elite, but we do enjoy our social tennis as well as giving those with ability the chance to progress. Whilst we do not allow members’ children and dogs to stray on to the courts during a rally, as used to happen in the early days, the club has retained its family atmosphere and provides family membership at a reduced rate. This is all reflected in our Mission Statement!
“Crowthorne Tennis Club exists to provide friendly and competitive tennis for the residents of the Wokingham to Crowthorne area while striving to make it non-elitist, within the reach of all members of the community and retaining its village and family-friendly atmosphere.”
Crowthorne Tennis club is situated in the grounds of St. Sebastians field, which was at one time a part of the Great Forest of Windsor. Because poverty was rife and forest laws severe, the local people were known for being lawless and heathen!
Up until 2002, the tennis club lay behind the Who’d-A-Tho’t-It pub, which was said to have been given its name by the First Duke of Wellington who, after a hard day’s hunting, stopping in a clearing with just a few houses, requested water for his men and horses. On being offered ALE (for him & his men not the horses) he is alleged to have uttered the immortal words ” By Gad, who would have thought it? “
In those days, the only occupation open to the local people was that of broomdashers. This involved cutting twigs in the forest and making them into brooms or besoms, which were then sold in Reading or as far away as Bristol. Occasionally, descendants of these diligent souls may be found on a Sunday morning sweeping the leaves off the courts before play begins
The tennis club itself was formed in the 1960s by a group of local families who used the facilities at the local Edgebarrow school. It later moved to its first permanent base at Morgan Recreation Ground, just outside the grounds of Broadmoor Hospital, where it had two courts. As the club became more established and started to enter teams in the Berkshire League competitions but it soon became apparent that, in those days, a minimum of three courts was required for most matches.
Sufficient land was not available at the Morgan Centre for a third court but hearing about the club’s dilemma, the Trustees of St. Sebastians offered four courts in the grounds of St. Sebastians Field and, since 1990, this has been the home of Crowthorne Tennis Club.
In 1996, with the aid of a Lottery grant, floodlights were installed on two courts and in 2003 the floodlighting was extended to include all four courts.
The modern pavilion at the bottom of the field offers excellent changing facilities and the presence of a bar and small kitchen allows the Tennis Club to host social events during the year. The pavilion is also the venue for other clubs including Scrabble and Bridge.
Up until September 2001, the court-side facilities were somewhat less than grand! The hut, which was physically moved by the members to its present location many years ago, had suffered the ravages of time. Plans to replace this with slightly more commodious accommodation came to fruition in September 2001 (yes, 9/11!), when the present clubhouse was installed with the assistance of the Army crane school.
Plans are now afoot to replace the present container clubhouse with a larger building that has toilet and changing facilities.
The village of Crowthorne owes its existence to the proximity of Wellington College and Broadmoor Hospital, round which the village has grown. Wellington College, built about 1859, is a national memorial to the Duke of Wellington, whose name and those of his generals find echoes in the titles of roads and inns of the neighbourhood, e.g. Duke’s Ride and the Iron Duke.
Broadmoor Hospital was built about the same time on a high spur of the ground near Caesar’s Camp. According to an old resident, the former inhabitants of the district were known as Broom Squires or Broom Dashers, whom he described as ‘good-living people, having a semi-underground life, all of whom had an altar of sods with bits of glass stuck in the top’. Such were the ‘Aborigines’ of Crowthorne.
The Devil’s Highway, a Roman road, crosses the village and two Roman milestones are in existence still. Although most buildings are modern, one Tudor cottage remains in the woods towards Owlsmoor. Crowthorne would appear to have wider boundaries than is expected, being bounded on one side by Owlsmoor, formerly called Newfoundland after an original squatter called New with numerous progeny; and on the other by California.
Crowthorne, once part of the Parish of Sandhurst, acquired its name because the postal authorities wished to give it a name to facilitate deliveries from Wokingham, instead of York Town, Surrey (which with Cambridge Town became known as Camberley). ‘Albertonville’ had been suggested in honour of the Prince Consort, but luckily the suggestion of ‘Crowthorne’, after some thorn trees at Brookers Corner, at the top of the village, was adopted. In the Domesday Book, Crowthorne Farm appears as a separate holding in the Royal Forest of Windsor, although the present farm holdings do not date back to the days of William the Conqueror.
Three men who died in the Crimean War at the famous charge of the Light Brigade are buried in the old churchyard.