History – The Clubhouse

There had been talk about renewing the ageing clubhouse and changing rooms for years. But now, by 1980, all the options were open thanks to the foresight of those who had ensured that the freehold was owned by the club. Of course, there were members who wished for little change and as plans were considered the expense and need were continually debated.

A succession of fund raising events, especially a series of Donkey Derbies, meant that after several years of saving we had over £10,000 and could make a start if the will and enthusiasm were there. A rather elaborate and expensive plan was set aside, but this did have the effect of focussing members on the possibility that we could do things in style rather than bodge up what we had. Eventually a sub-committee comprising Past Chairman Roger Snow, Chairman Paul Clark, Vice-Chairman David Straker and member Roger Percival considered a radical DO IT YOURSELF plan based on a simple shell which could be kitted out over the years as the club gained more funds. This was put to the committee who agreed to present a keen and unanimous lead to a special meeting of all the members.

In 1981, with a senior membership of less than a hundred, it was quite ambitious to aim for a building which could seat a hundred to hot meal, provide bar, lounge, kitchen and changing facilities, accommodate two table tennis tables and allow hire-out potential. Constraints included the siting of the courts and the new water main together with the maximum width of pre-fabricated roof truss that members could lift if we ever got above the foundations! Planning permission was sought.

A special general meeting was called by Chairman Paul later in 1981 and, despite some doubters, the bold decision to go ahead was made. It is clear that a stable membership, cohesive atmosphere in fund raising, great fun in social events and success in teams climbing the leagues all made a positive impact in creating a dynamic and optimistic mood. Development in the time of high inflation caused us to wish to transfer our hard-earned funds into bricks and mortar as soon as possible. Hardly had the decision to proceed been made when a JCB was hired to dig out footings carefully laid out under the direction of Roger Snow a day or two before. And, of course, a large privet hedge ran through our plans to the corner of now what is court four. So the JCB cleverly picked it up and moved it root and branch to our boundary – where it thrives today!

Thus, suddenly, we were a building site so naturally it rained. Our trenches looked as if they might fill up or collapse if the rain continued as forecast, and with winter approaching, this could put us back months. So that Friday evening in the gloom and damp the telephone wires hummed around Oadby as the committee phoned all members with spades to hurry down to the club ready to receive a convoy of ready-mixed concrete lorries in half an hour. And they came and they poured and we shovelled and it poured. Now there was one poor cement lorry who reversed just a little bit too far where the front door stands today. Not only did we have cement in our footings but a lorry as well. Aghast we watched it slither into the trench and slowly cant over the back of our beloved court two. Half an hour later the breakdown lorry shackled a chain to our lurching Enemix and took the strain. A mighty crack and….zing as the chain parted. No members were lost that night. Fortunately they all had their heads down shovelling as the rest of the convoy arrived. Way past midnight there was this poor man which a chassis broken and drum jammed still somewhere in the bowels of his lorry shovelling it out by hand before it set.

Well, after that it was all downhill. The building inspector admired out footings and a bricklayer was hired to lay several million bricks. Funds were dropping so the club members were offered the singular honour of life membership if they kindly capitalise, interest free, the next stages. We were keen to get on. Footings aren’t much fun on their own. Besides they were older member so we weren’t giving much away! Thus the walls went up. Although we had spent ahead of schedule the industry and contacts of the members of the club meant that we had saved as well. So how about buying the roof trusses and seeing if we could fix them up next? They arrived and the first job was to cut the ends off. We did. But we should not have. So we spent the next weekend sticking them back on again. The trusses were raised one by one. Yes, think of it, no Sunday morning tennis until you have lifted a truss up! It was around this stage that the less skilled members got the job of fixing insulation sheets in the wall cavities. Meanwhile, up aloft Andy Tyler and Mike Hinks having pinned up nearly all the trusses, thought that the honour of fixing the last nail to hold the roof up should go to the new club Chairman who was very busy with his polystyrene sheet. Leaving nothing to chance Andy starts this nail off in the right direction. Well, it was rather like missing an overhead smash a yard from the net – but rest assured, the insulation is well fixed.

It was at this stage, in the summer of 1982, that we felt it would be done – and ahead of schedule. At the start, in late ’81, the then Vice-Chairman dreamt of taking the Chair of a club with no money, no members, huge debts and beautiful foundations. And now, here we were a few months later hiring a tiler to put our slates on! Our three wise men, Roger Snow, Mike Hinks and Andy Tyler were spending so long at the club we though it only fair to make them temporary accommodation in the roof space. And so to the drains and the plumbing, the wiring and the lights, the bar and the kitchen, the hatch and the doors, the tiling and the glazing, the staining and the insulation, the looks and the partition, the equipment and the carpet and the furniture and…………lets have an opening.

Thus it came to pass that members old and new, supported by all of Leicestershire Tennis came along on the Sunday 28th November 1982 and warmed our clubhouse. It was a good do and as members had built it, so one of our number who had lead the experience declared it open for us. The members of 1980-82 gained more than good fun from their endeavours and trust that those who enjoy the social or tennis life of Oadby (Granville) themselves find a way of doing something for the next generation.