Horley Lawn Tennis Club History Part Two: Our New Clubhouse 2009 - 2015

This article detailing the six-year journey to fundraise and build our new clubhouse was written by Gill Cox for the grand opening day. This has been edited by James Blay for use on our website, with photos provided by David Johnson and other sources.

Our old clubhouse, constructed in 1987


The journey started on a grim, wet, windy evening early in 2009 when eight of us were huddled round the Committee table trying to keep warm, miserably contemplating the four buckets catching water leaking through the roof. A ceiling panel had just fallen in and we were trying to work out the best way of telling Jon Warren that we would like him to get back onto the flat roof to mend the ripped felting for about the nine time in rapid succession. Looking back, if I had known what a long hard slog we would have I would never have volunteered myself to look into the possibility of building a new clubhouse!

But I did and we soon discovered that what seemed a huge amount of money in our slush fund wasn’t going to get us very far at all – in fact we would need to raise four times the amount we had which seemed to us at the time an absolute impossibility – and we were told so on many, many occasions. We had no other option though – the building was not strong enough to be renovated and if we did nothing, there was the very real possibility no, probability, that HLTC would shut down – an option that seemed to us to be untenable after having a tennis club in situ for nearly 120 years.

So we formed a sub–committee and started the slog of identifying funding opportunities, while at the same time trying to identify a building company who would come up with solutions that we could afford. So started our somewhat rocky but ultimately successful relationship with Sports Clubhouses!

We wrote a total of 31 applications for funding. The breakthrough with Sport England came after application number 12, and I still remember taking the phone call from Greg Ward, the Grants Manager for the Inspired Facilities scheme just before Christmas 2011. They liked our vision and pledged us £50,000 for which we are truly grateful as this started the ball rolling (or so we thought).

2012-2013: Fundraising

In March 2012 we hosted an event to mark the presentation of the £50,000 from Sports England.

Then austerity and the recession hit, and all grant givers were being inundated by applications from organisations who were much needier than ourselves. We really were at the point of giving up then. What saved us from doing so were two more organisations, The Gatwick Airport Community Trust and John Bristow and Thomas Mason Trust bolstering up our funds by their kind donations, so thanks to these two organisations – their timely interventions really did make a difference!

So, we were getting nearer on the funds but still £90,000 short. It was at this time that we took the somewhat unconventional step of asking Sports Clubhouses if they would consider delivering a not-quite-finished clubhouse, meaning that we would undertake the last stages ourselves to save money. To be fair to them they took this in their stride and costed out a plan which took us to a deficit of £60,000 – an amount that just about looked achievable - but by this time there was the real possibility that Sport England would withdrawn their grant as we had not commenced the build within their timescales. A few begging letters and fraught telephone conversations later Sports England thankfully extended our timeframe.

This was the point at which we decided to see what response we would get from members, whether or not they could contribute by ways of loans and gifts to the club. Thankfully, many members stepped in and made their pledges – and here, a special thanks to our wonderful ‘oldies’, who have been extremely generous, citing their many years of pleasurable memories as members.

So, all we then had to do was find another £30,000 which I am happy to say was granted in the form of a ten-year interest free loan from the LTA, who came to the party just in the nick of time! It should be said that this level of loan was fairly exceptional, and we have our regional manager Alan Mezzetti to thank for his part in this. When Alan heard about the fire he championed our case and a third of this was converted to a grant. 

2014: Construction

When Richard, the then Treasurer, said the immortal words ‘I think we have a viable project’ we could not really believe it – but HLTC Mark 4 was about to be born! And the rest, so they say, is history!


The demolition of the old clubhouse began in March 2014. We removed the old furniture, fixtures and fittings in preparation for the machinery to move in. Throughout the build we used a tent on our mini tennis court as a makeshift clubhouse - we thought it would be a temporary solution, but sadly it was more temporary than expected.


April saw the complete demolition of the clubhouse and preparation of the site for the new building's foundations.


The construction of the new clubhouse began in May. The building consisted of a series of panels that arrived on the back of a truck! By the end of the month the outer structure was nearly finished so attention turned to the inside.

June 2014 Part 1

Significant steps forward were made in completing the inside of the clubhouse - the walls were lined with insulation and plastered. The build looked set to meet its completion date five weeks later, until one fateful, disastrous evening on Sunday 22nd June at 2:30am..

The Fire

Very early in the morning of Sunday 22nd June our clubhouse we set alight. By the time the fire brigade arrived and put the blaze out, the building was in ruins. The fire had caused the roof to cave in and destroy the work inside. The fire turned out to be the first in a series of arson attacks in Horley and Reigate, which received nationwide attention on BBC News and Crimewatch. To say we were all gutted is an understatement. But from disasters good things can happen and in our case it prompted a call from Kay Hammond to say that she would champion a grant application from Surrey County Council, to cover external works and the security system. 

News Coverage: One Two Three Four Five Six

June Part 2

Building work was suspended while the relevant parties worked out who was responsible for the reconstruction and what was still useable from the first build.

July - December

The clubhouse was reconstructed, with only painting and decorating remaining by the turn of the year.

2015: Completion

January - April

When SC handed us the nearly completed building six months after we expected to get the keys, it was time for the members themselves to get involved. John Warren and Peter Horder were absolute stars for taking on the bulk of the painting, decorating and tiling – ably (and on occasions not so ably) assisted by armies of willing helpers. Geoff Blay did a brilliant job with the bar and Dave Sharratt with all the carpentry. In the meantime a group of the ladies hit the town and did a great job in soliciting the support of many local businesses who donated items either free or heavily discounted. So sincere thanks to Towers Watson, Mitchells, Homebase, Crawley Carpet Warehouse and all the other companies listed at the end of this article.

The (nearly) finished new clubhouse (March 2015)

Saturday 16th May - Grand Opening

We held a grand opening celebration on the 16th May, attended by local MP Sam Gyimah to cut the red ribbon.

Final Notes From Gill Cox

All this would not have happened if it wasn’t for the support of three special people. Firstly, Jo Rosendale – who stepped in to take over as Captain when I started this mad idea. She has been an absolute rock throughout the whole project, calmly taking over when it all got too much for me. Secondly, Gail – whose endless optimism and sharing of the burden meant so much. And last but not least, Dave Johnson – Mr Clubhouse himself, who despite all the moaning and groaning was actually the one behind getting the project completed at all – and I can’t emphasise how much work and time he has put in to making sure this day arrived at all. 

We have many plans and ambitions for the future, not least to bring tennis into the community and run coaching sessions for schools, the disabled and the disadvantaged. We want to partnership with other sports – cycling, running clubs. Also to offer our facilities for other clubs and societies such as Bridge, Whist, Book Clubs, Yoga and keep fit classes.

HLTC is not just a tennis club. Life long friendships have been forged; dynasties of families have grown up on this site. Relationships, marriages, births and sadly deaths have bought us all together. The club is a source of companionship for many, and our journey over the past six years has shown what can be achieved by pulling together and supporting each other. We hope our journey over the next six years will be somewhat easier and with members help we know we can grow this little club into something really special.

Special Thanks to Local Businesses and Sponsors

  • Ark Blinds & Curtains Ltd
  • Balcombe Fete
  • Bright Ideas For Tennis
  • Crawley Carpet Warehouse
  • Crest Kitchens
  • Gatwick Community Trust
  • Homebase, Crawley
  • Horley Electrical
  • John Bristow & Thomas Mason Trust
  • Lawn Tennis Association
  • Mitchells Building Centre
  • RDO Kitchens & Appliances
  • Reigate & Banstead District Sports Council
  • RG Networks Ltd
  • Sport England
  • Surrey County Council
  • Topps Tiles, Crawley
  • Towers Watson
  • Vista Landscapes
  • Waitrose, Horley

Great British Tennis Weekend - 23rd July

We are hosting an open day as part of the Great British Tennis Weekend on the 23rd July in association with the LTA. The event is open to anyone thinking of trying something new, or picking up where they left off! All you need  to do is register for one of the session on the Clubspark event available at this link

Our coaches Justin and Oliver will be running sessions for juniors in the morning (9:30am - 12:30pm) and adults in the afternoon (2pm - 5pm).

The morning will be split into three one-hour sessions:
4-7 years: 9:30am - 10:30am
8-10 years: 10:30am - 11:30am
11-18 years: 11:30am - 12:30pm

The afternoon will be split into three one-hour taster sessions, ideal for people new to the sport or who haven't picked up a racquet in a long time. We have some racquets available should you not have your own. Those of you who would like to join in with our members and see our facilities are also welcome to reserve a place for the free play session (running in parallel to the coaching taster sessions) via the event link. There are limited spaces available for each of the coaching sessions so please sign up and book to avoid disappointment! Our members will be providing tea and cakes after 3pm, as is club tradition!

There is a 10% reduction on membership fees available exclusively on the day for new members and also a deal on a group of ten coaching sessions.

Please don't hesitate to contact us by calling our coach Justin on 07920 282192 (further contact details available here), through the form on our contact page or by calling in to the club at a time marked senior club play on our timetable here if you have any questions. We hope to see plenty of new faces on the day, so sign up now!

Great British Tennis Weekend at Horley Lawn Tennis Club

Jazz & Cocktails - 9th July

Horley Lawn Tennis Club History Part One: Centenary 1894 - 1994

The following article was originally researched, written and published by Peter Knight, former Horley Lawn Tennis Club president, to celebrate Club's Centenary in 1994. A limited number were published and distributed to members at the time, though it is not known how many copies survive today, nor who has them. The original article has been re-produced for online use.


  • Mr. O. Brown and Mr. B. Davis of the Horley History Society
  • Miss Ann Middlecote of Ross & Sons, Solicitors, Horley
  • Miss M. Corscaden, surviving daughter of one of the Founder members
  • Lady Longley for photographic evidence
  • Mrs. Gwenda Perfect, former secretary for useful data
  • Mr. Philip Ewen, Captain, for up to date information
  • Mr. S. A. Osborn and Miss D. Betton and the wife of Mr. P. Knight

Horley Lawn Tennis Club 1894 – 1994

Horley Lawn Tennis Club was founded in 1894 to provide lawn tennis, croquet and bowls for its members on Glebe land, Vicarage Lane, Horley.

The first President was Revd. H. T. Lewis, then vicar of Horley.

The life of the Club started on three grass courts, with tennis played in the genteel mode of the day. A Bowling Green was also part of the land under separate management, the pavilion being shared between the three sports.

In a Parish register dated August 1897, the death was reported of Mr. Fritz Knight (aged 25 years) who with a Mr. A. Baker, local Auctioneer, were joint Secretaries of the Club.

It does appear, that from this date, the Club did not prosper, but in 1901 a new Secretary was appointed, Mr. W G Coscaden and a Newspaper article dated August 1901 states “the present prosperous condition of the Club is due almost entirely to the business like methods of the Hon. Sec. who has not spared himself in forwarding the best interests of the Club.”

February 1902 AGM – “ For a Club who two years ago was on the verge of insolvency and now, after an expensive season shows £20 in hand is proof of the untiring efforts of the Hon. Sec.” and subscriptions would be raised to 12/6d per annum!

May 1902 – The ground was enlarged, planted with trees, the turf was in splendid condition and the pavilion was brought up-to-date, followed in August 1903 by the addition of a dressing-room and water was laid to the courts and grouns but, unfortunately not to the pavilion and right up to the 1960’s, water had to be carried from a standpipe in the hedge near the road. In 1903 membership was 100 members.

January 1904 - The Club now had four grass courts but one was set aside for playing of croquet.

February 1905 AGM – “The Club in the red owing to the purchase of a new roller.” The roller is still in our proud possession, as seen at the back of court 5!

At this meeting, Mr. Coscaden resigned and on doing so presented the Club with a cheque covering the cost of the Roller. Between the Wars little is known except that the club continued with matches and tournaments.

Over the years, Horley LTC has been fortunate in its presidents; to name but or or two who gave not only generously to the Club but also their support and playing abilities.

  • Mr Toby Ross – Solicitor, Ross & Sons, Horley – First Team Member
  • Mr. H. Sampson – local butcher. We now hold the Sampson bank holiday tournament once a year.
  • Mr G. Whale – Senior Partner, Ross & Sons, for years dealing with all legal matters and a Member of the First Team.
  • Mrs. P. King (nee Mudford). Winner of the Ladies Doubles at Wimbledon in 1931, Captain of the Wightman Cup and Winner of many titles too numerous to record.

Whilst mentioning Mrs. King (left, below), at the beginning of the War in 1940, she organised a tennis exhibition for the British Red Cross and the Bowling Club kindly allowed their rinks to be used; four Wimbledon players attended. Mr. G. Whale and Mr. P. Knight organised seating for around 500 spectators and the War effort was helped by £500 raised that day.

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The Club closed from 1942 to the end of hostilities.

1947 – A tremendous amount of hard work to relay the grass courts. To help overcome our inclement summers, a concrete court (bright pink Mr. P Knight recalls) was laid where Courts 1 and 2 now stand.

Mr P. Knight recalls: “I have memories of the old pavilion with its rotting floors, dilapidated gas ring, bar in a wooden chest, outside toilet and many hours spent waiting for the rain to cease to continue our games on grass! On fine days, tea was enjoyed under the old oak tree!”

Ever since 1894, a “Peppercorn” rent was paid to the local Parish Church but, in April 1956, the Club was able to purchase the Freehold of the land and, at that time, gave the Bowling Club ten years notice to find alternative grounds, happily these were forthcoming at the Horley Recreation Ground.

1970, Courts 4 & 5 were laid; 1980 saw floodlighting on Courts 1 & 2 and in 1987 Courts 6 & 7 were laid and a large modern pavilion erected.

Up to the 1970s, matches and tournaments were played against neighbouring clubs and teams in the Surrey leagues. The Club has always been known for its friendliness and thank you to all members for the excellent teas and refreshments always provided. Whilst we have had individual members with good playing ability, names are often repeated on the Honours Board. Not many clubs can boast an achievement such as our very own Nancy Crocker winning the Singles Title fourteen times.

Mr. P. Knight would like to express, on behalf of the Club, our grateful thanks to a few members who have contributed so much in the past and present.

  •  In the immediate difficult post war years, after much neglect, the club was fortunate in having the services of Messrs. L. Rivington, M. Crabb, R. Garnham and Peter Crocker to restore the club facilities and tennis enthusiasm.
  • To Messrs. Alex Wilkinson & Don Ewen for their excellent Chairmanships.
  • To Mrs. Gwenda Perfect for her many years as Secretary.
  • To Mrs. Marjorie Bell for her enormous contribution in fund raising and working for the Club in every capacity.
  • To Messrs. Philip Ewen & Graham Perfect for 13 years of organising the Open Tournament and what a success story this proved to be.
  • To Members, parents and non-playing Members who have contributed to the successful organising, coaching and events for Junior Tennis.
  • To Mr. Brian Willifer for willingly assisting with the Centenary.

Captain's Report 1994

The following section was written by the club captain Philip Ewen in 1994:

In the late 1970s, a marked change took place in the strength and competitiveness of the teams, particularly on the men’s side. Uncle and nephew partnership Tony Sired and Paul Burtenshaw led the team and did not know the meaning of defeat as the team rose through the Surrey Leagues. They were supported by a group of youngsters, Richard Atkin, Tim Wilkinson, Peter and Philip Ewen who all came up through the junior ranks.

In 1979, two new competitions were entered, the Surrey Cup and The Dorking and Leatherhead League. Starting in the lowest divisions of each, we swept to easy victories in both that year. 1980 saw a further advance and a memorable Surrey Division “C” Cup final with local rivals Redhill LTC. The Redhill team, that year, included Alan Parker, our new club steward and Terry Harding, our coach!

1980 saw a clean sweep of all three Dorking and Leatherhead divisions; the title was captured again in 1984 and, with the exception of 1987, has remained ours ever since. Just for good measure, the mixed 2nd and then 1st divisions were taken at the first attempt in 1982 and 1983 respectively and the mixed league was later won again in 1991 and 1992.

In 1984, we were strengthened further as Barrie Gilbert joined from Dorking and soon took over as partner to Paul Burtenshaw as Horley top pair. A formidable partnership who has been largely responsible for making the “Horley lob” famous all over Surrey.

A further Division C Surrey Cup win followed in 1985. Then in 1986, the Winter Grade B Cup was entered for the first time and yet another first attempt win - but only just - by three games from Epsom, Phil Ewen and Tim Wilkinson putting up the key performance that day, a feat to be repeated in a second win of the competition in 1990 after a rare slip in the opening round by our first pair. In between, we were runners up twice and only beaten on each occasion by the eventual winners.

Away from the team, Richard Atkin was establishing himself as one of the top players in the County, winning the Surrey Singles in 1988 and representing Sussex at County level. 

Later, Richard Atkin returned to the Horley team inspiring us to even greater heights. In 1991, we reached Division B (third division) of the many Surrey Winter leagues. This effort meant a rare appearance in 1992 in the top Surrey Summer knockout competition. Owen Pickering joined in 1988 and has taken over as the Club Singles Champion. Having beaten Reigate and Purley second team we then faced Purley 1st team in the Finals but Purley First proved too strong.

In 1981, the Club undertook an ambitious new venture with a three day Open Tournament. At that time, with just five courts and a very small clubhouse, it was hard to believe that it could prove so successful. Marquees were erected and with the help of many Members a friendly atmosphere was produced. Now, 13 years later, the Tournament is still running and probably the most popular of its type in the local area attracting a very high standard of play. 

In 13 years, 39 finals have been successfully completed. There have been moments when the smooth running of the Tournament has been threatened, such as in 1987, when the electricity and water to the new Clubhouse were only switched on a matter of hours before and, in 1993 when the lines on our new acrylic courts were also completed the day beforehand!

And what of the future! Perhaps a successful Veterans Tournament - rumour has it that Barrie Gilbert has already been winning Veterans Titles for some years and our own President, Peter Knight, became a Finalist in the Veterans of Great Britain at the West Hampshire Club Bournemouth 1993.

The ladies have not been able to match the men’s success in recent years but, with a thriving Junior Section and with Helen and Diana Gilbert and Jo Andrews coming through, maybe a new era is about to begin?

Philip Ewen - Captain


Part Two Coming Soon.

England Vs. Russia BBQ - 11th June

Summer Tournament 2016 Draws

The draws for the Summer Tournament 2016 have been announced. Matches are to be played at the date and time stated beneath the fixture, unless all players can agree on an alternate date and time.

Spanish Evening Coming Soon

The Spanish Evening - has been postponed from 21st May until later in the year. We'll announce a new date as soon as possible!

Season Opening Party - 16th April

Open Day - 9th April 2016

We are holding an open day on the 9th April, from 9:30-12:30 for juniors and 14:00-17:00 for adults. You are welcome to join in with club play or a free coaching session, or just come along to view the facilities and have some tea and cake! 

There is a 10% discount for those who join on the day, hope to see as many of you there as possible!

For further details please contact:
Membership Secretary: Pat Emens (01293 786912)
Head Coach: Justin Griffiths (07920 282192)
Address: Vicarage Lane, Horley RH6 8AR

Winter Tournament 2015/16 Finals Day

Men's Singles
James Mitchell bt. Yves Horent 8-4

Ladies Singles
Julie Newton bt. Mattie Bothwell 8-4

Men's Doubles
Oli Webb and Owen Wadey bt. Neil Wensley and Michael Miller 8-4

Ladies Doubles
Alison Blay and Claire Mitchell bt. Gill Cox and Gail Palmer 9-7

Mixed Doubles
James Blay and Gail Palmer bt. Yves Horent and Mattie Bothwell 8-5

24-Hour Tennis Marathon at Roehampton Tennis Centre

Christmas Party 2015

Quiz Night 2015

Thai Night 2015

Casino Night 2015