NEW ELTHAM TENNIS CLUB
N.E.T.C. amalgamated with Crescent Tennis Club in November 2001 when they finally left their courts in New Eltham and wound up their club.
New Eltham Tennis club started life as the tennis section of the Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society’s Employees’ Sports Association, known locally as the R.A.C.S, back, it is believed in 1919. At that time the Society purchased “Shornells” a mansion at the top of Bostall Hill. This was the centre of a large and flourishing Employees Sports Association. There were no tennis courts on the site but the Co-op’s employees played tennis on hired courts in a park in Abbey Wood. In 1920 the Association acquired a ground at Church Manorway, Plumstead, adjacent to the ground owned by RASRA, where they had four grass courts, played matches against other clubs and held annual tournaments with trophies for the winners, some of which are still in existence today. It was in 1936 that the North Kent League was formed and the R.A.C.S. was one of the founder members.
At the outbreak of war in 1939 the ground in Plumstead was requisitioned by the Royal Air force, possibly as a barrage balloon site for the defence of the nearby Royal Arsenal.
In 1947 the C.W.S. the parent company of the R.A.C.S. purchased a ground in Footscray Road at the junction with Green Lane and this became known as the Co-op sports ground. The R.A.C.S. continued to run the sports ground and all went smoothly. Over the years the membership was opened up to associate members and all that was required to become a member, was a Co-op bank account with as little as 6d being acceptable. In 1988 the parent company, the CWS took over the running of the sports club and all sections of the sports club had to become self-sufficient. The tennis club proceeded to rent the courts from the CWS, under a tenancy agreement, and the tennis club changed its’ name to New Eltham Tennis Club.
Over the next ten years the club made many improvements to the site, relaying courts and installing floodlights when in January 1999 they received notice to leave by May 1999 as the CWS wished to sell the ground. The next 14 months were spent at the University Of Greenwich’s’ courts in Avery Hill road whilst the club tried to raise funds through the Lottery and the LTA to set up a new club on the grounds of the Footscray Rugby Club in Footscray road. During this time, Welling United football club were renting the Co-op Sports ground as a training facility and they were quite happy for the tennis club to return and rent the tennis courts from them. The club returned to the ground in July 2000 only to find that when Welling left the site a year later, the tennis club found themselves illegal tenants as Welling had no authority to sub-let! The CWS agreed the club could stay and fulfil its’ commitments, however, when new tenants arrived in August 2001 the club found it could not agree to their terms and decided to leave. This turned out to be very fortunate as two years later the ground was up for sale again.
With no success in obtaining sufficient funds from the various organisations to start their club again, and with no wish to return to the courts of the University of Greenwich, the decision was taken to close the club and join with Crescent tennis club, a move that has proved very successful, and many thanks go to the members of the Crescent for the welcome they gave to New Eltham Tennis Club members.
Whilst the club was known as the RACS it won five North Kent championship titles. In 1966 it won the North Kent Cup Mixed doubles, and in 1969 it again won the NK Cup Mixed doubles and also the Men’s singles and Men’s doubles Cups. That year it also won the North Kent Men’s doubles division A championship.
Over the last 15 years the club fielded as many as 15 teams in the North Kent Leagues with various degrees of success. In 1985 the Mixed 1 was promoted to the Premiership and retained its’ position until the club was closed. Ladies 1 was promoted to the top division in 1988 and apart from one year also maintained its’ position. Men’s 1 divided its time between the top two divisions.
As New Eltham, the club hosted the North Kent finals on three occasions, 1988, 1989 and again in 1995 and during that time it also had representatives in the finals of the ladies(twice), men’s and mixed doubles events. The club also won the inaugural ladies doubles veterans event in 1995.
Apart from its competitive side, New Eltham Tennis club always had a reputation for the excellent social tennis sessions it provided, and this has been continued successfully at their new club.
The early information regarding the history of New Eltham Tennis club was taken from an article from the clubs newsletter written by the late Arthur Butler, who was club secretary for many years. Upon his death he bequeathed a sum of money to the club and this has been used to provide the bench which is now in situ alongside the tennis courts at Crescent Tennis Club.