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Island Archives acquires Guernsey Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club historical material

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Friday 29 July 2016

The records of the Guernsey Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club and its successors have been donated to the Island Archives.

The club was founded in 1857 on the site of the current King's Leisure Centre. It was initially an archery club, but during the 1860s-70s tennis and croquet became the main sports.  It was one of the first lawn tennis clubs in the world.  A variety of sports have been played on the site over the years including archery, tennis, croquet, bowls, badminton and squash.  The site was redeveloped in the 1970s and became Kings Club, with an emphasis on squash. Tennis star Heather Watson trained at the club in her early years before moving to Florida to further her career.

The collection includes minute books, committee reports, correspondence, visitors' books, photographs, programmes and lists of tournament players, financial records, sporting publications, and newspaper cuttings. They were given to the Island Archives by Reg Harbour, former Kings Club Manager and squash professional, who accumulated much of the material dating from 1970. Mr Harbour said: "It seemed natural to hand it over to the Island Archives so that islanders, both now and in the future, could see for themselves how the efforts of those over 150 years ago, who first envisaged this 3-acre site in St Peter Port as a major sporting venue, would eventually come to worldwide attention".

The earliest item in the collection is an archery club visitors' book from 1859. The records include material from the Occupation, such as lists of members and correspondence relating to the use of the courts by German soldiers. Programmes and newspaper cuttings trace the progress of local sporting stars including squash players Lisa Opie and Martine Le Moignan.

Darryl Ogier, Island Archivist, said:

"We are delighted to receive this unique collection, which will be preserved and made available to researchers. The club's archive provides a rare insight into the island's sporting history and offers a valuable resource for social history research in an area of growing academic and public interest".

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