The first club chairman – Mike Jackson

My sister Judy Jackson recently sent me a press cutting from the Leicester Mercury which referred to the recent 60th birthday celebrations of the Oadby (Granville) Tennis Club. I also understand that she wrote to the ‘Mr Leicester’ column recalling the fact that our father, Frank Jackson, was elected as first chairman of the club in 1946.

Whilst sadly I cannot provide you with any photographs directly associated with the early days of the club, I can provide a little more information about the embryonic stages which led to its formation. I apologise in advance if these facts are already known and therefore irrelevant.

The Stoneygate Rise estate consisting of Granville Avenue (Only a very short road originally), Grosvenor Crescent, Carfax Avenue, Lyndon Drive and Southfields Drive was built in the late 1920’s by Brownings who were local property developers. They also developed the site for the old Meadowcourt Tennis club.

In 1945 there was general disappointment in Stoneygate Rise that there were no organised celebrations for VE day in May of that year. When VJ day was imminent in August, my father convened a meeting of several Grosvenor Crescent residents. I can remember the names of a few, Messrs Scott, Neal, Merriman, Read, Clarke, Sherrif, Creswell and Sinclair (it was all very chauvinistic as no ladies were invited). As a result a street party and sports afternoon was arranged, to be held in Grosvenor Crescent.

This event was followed by dancing in the evening to amplified records and under temporary lighting. By popular request the evening event was repeated the following Saturday. Happily the weather was extremely kind on both occasions. By general consensus it was agreed that this social spirit in the local community should be maintained through those early peacetime days.

The larger wooden Meadowcourt Tennis Club building was identified as a possible local venue for future events. My father was acquainted with and a friend of Louis Browning as a result of them being fellow officers throughout the war in the 2nd South Leicester Battalion of the Home Guard and so he agreed to initiate enquiries regarding the lease.

In the early part of 1946 the activities were wholly social, whist drives on a Thursday, and socials, dances and solo drives alternating on Saturdays. There was also a junior membership evening each Friday. In the spring of that year the tennis courts came into regular use. As the club became more established, hockey, cricket, and amateur dramatics were among those added to the list of member’s activities.

My father remained chairman until his death in the spring of 1947 when the role passed to Mr Oscar Farrant a resident of Lyndon Drive. My late mother enjoyed the privilege of becoming one of the first honorary life members of ‘The Granville’ along with Mr Walter Cresswell and the elderly Mrs Baines (doyen of the card playing fraternity).

In the early 1950’s following complaints of disturbance from a Mr Wagstaff who lived at ‘The Pines’ (the first house in Granville Avenue) the main wooden club building was moved without disassembly away from the communal boundary to the other side of the entrance drive.

The rest as they say, is history.

If, and it’s a very big if, the Anna Howse mentioned in ‘Mr Leicester’s’ article had a maiden name of Thompson, then I seem to recollect her living in Lyndon Drive and I have further more painful memories of an occasion when she and her partner Dorothy ‘somebody or other’ gave my partner and myself a sound drubbing on the tennis courts. Worse, it took place on the first court directly under the eyes of other club members gathered on the veranda of the old green pavilion.

I moved away from Leicester some forty years ago, returning to Oadby only on rare occasions when I have witnessed the steady ‘disappearance’ of the village.

Among the casualties of that disappearing process was the White Horse pub which stood in Leicester Road. It was there that the officers of the 2nd South Leicester Battalion had their unofficial mess. Whilst I said out the outset I regrettably have no old club photographs I do have one old press photograph in my possession which might be of minor interest.