Game Set and Match…Fred Perry, Pancho Gonzales and the Angry Clergymen.

Not sure if you’ve noticed…I certainly hadn’t until someone pointed it out to me, but most of the posts on here tend to be about the beautiful gardens.

Now if you don’t know our area at all you might not think that strange, so let me explain.

We are the Friends of Radipole Park and Gardens.

In essence there are two parts to our green space…divided by a length of tennis courts.

A lot of the attention goes on the gardens…not so much on the sporting and park area.

But then again, maybe that’s why the majority of lottery money (should we make it through stage II of the bid) is going to be spent on this section.

We have a large playing field that at the moment struggles to justify that title. It floods for months on end and has become so uneven and not at all amenable to those wishing to partake in a game of footie.

The expanse of Radipole playing fields, Weymouth Dorset.
The expanse of Radipole playing fields, Weymouth Dorset. Most of which is unusable for a large part of the year due to flooding. hopefully if successful in our stage II of the Heritage lottery Bid this will be rectified. Public parks and gardens and community spaces.

Todays post though concentrates on the area that at one time was considered the top notch gold standard tennis courts of the borough.

In fact when the park was created in the 1930’s they had a specially designed exhibition court built as tennis was so popular.

ALO420/004/01 29 APR 1935

Seen here in these grainy photos under construction.

ALO/420/004/02 29 AUG 1935

Many a world champion came and graced its asphalt.

Crowds would be seated around the court agog at their skills.

‘Tennis Stars at Weymouth’

cried the headlines of the Western Gazette dated Friday 28th July 1950.

‘Between seven and eight hundred people gathered at Radipole Park tournament court at Weymouth on Monday to watch exhibition tennis by the two well-known exponents of the game. Fred Perry and Dan Maskell. An exhibition match was followed by over an hour’s instruction in which Perry and Maskell demonstrated in detail the fundamentals of the game and how practically every shot should be played. They also conducted a coaching class for two dozen schoolchildren. Perry and Maskell set up a new record by playing 54 consecutive shots in a close volleying demonstration.’

I wonder if any of those schoolchildren are still with us?

Promoting sport for the younger generation had been the name of the game a year earlier when

‘Tennis Champions Visit Weymouth’

(Western Gazette Friday 20th May 1949)

Jack Kramer Tennis Radipoel park

Treat for Dorset Schoolchildren.

Jack Kramer (USA), world champion tennis player, and Danny Pails, champion of Australia, will demonstrate the game to children from all Dorset schools at the Weymouth Corporation Courts, on thursday, May 26th. The visit has been arranged by the Dorset Lawn Tennis Association, and the champions are giving their services in order to encourage the young tennis players of Dorset. It will be the first demonstration of its kind in Great Britain. After all the schoolchildren have been accommodated in the available seating, adults will be admitted. The champions will give a talk, demonstration and will play juniors selected from the audience.’

Radipole’s courts played host to many a star of their day, including Pancho Gonzales seen here in the 1950’s with fellow champions.

tennis at Radipole gardensl 1950's

It hadn’t all been plain sailing though, in the mid 1930’s  Weymouth’s new tennis courts nearly cause a riot when they were first introduced.

‘Protests at Weymouth’

Seemingly the local clergy were up in arms that the courts should be open to the public on the holy day and that a man should be ‘co-erced into working’ when he should be observing the sabbath.

(Shops were fined for selling chocolate on a Sunday too at this time)

Wouldn’t it be great to see these courts up and running again with maybe a few of today’s tennis stars sharing their skills to our younger generation.

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