by Steven Downes
31 January, 2013 - 12:00
A flashback photograph of the covered tennis courts at Newhaven Court at Cromer. Photo: Cromer Museum.
Memories of star-laden tennis tournaments
Memories of star-laden tennis tournaments and O-level night classes have been stirred by our story about the fiery demise of a Cromer hotel.
As reported, Newhaven Court Hotel was destroyed by fire in January 1963 - two years after a blaze destroyed the covered tennis courts in the grounds.
The article set Martin Braybrook rooting through records to find leaflets about 1927 and 1947 tournaments at the courts, which were built by hotel owner and MP Oliver Locker-Lampson.
He found details of an August 1927 tournament that featured: Senorita de Alvarez, the beaten Wimbledon finalist in 1926, 1927 and 1928; Mrs Lambert Chambers, who won the ladies singles at Wimbledon seven times between 1903 and 1914; Mr G R O Crole-Rees, a member of Great Britain’s Davis Cup team; Mr J C Gregory, who went onto be runner-up in the men’s doubles at Wimbledon in 1929.
A letter written by Cromer Covered Courts Club chairman Mr Locker-Lampson, advertising the event, said: “The tournament takes place under cover, and is therefore independent of the weather, but being in the middle of the season the demand for tickets will be considerable.”
At the time, the club’s president was the Earl of Balfour, and vice-presidents were the Earl of Birkenhead and Admiral of the Fleet Earl Jellicoe of Scapa.
Mr Braybrook also found details of the spring tournament of 1947, which saw J E Harper and Mrs E W A Bostock both contesting three finals. Harper was one of the beaten finalists in the Australian men’s doubles of 1937 and Jean Bostock was a regular player at Wimbledon and a member of the British Wightman Cup team.
Tennis was strongly marketed at the hotel, and guests were eligible to become members of the club, with the registered Lawn Tennis Association professional available for coaching and making up games.
The hotel hosted the first organised conference of The Lawn Tennis Professional Association, which was formed in 1946 with Dan Maskell as chairman and the conference made some important decisions, including establishing the five fundamentals of coaching and re-introducing the British professional championships.
The News was also contacted by Peter Bullimore, clerk to Beeston Regis Parish Council, who said: “This article brought back some interesting memories, as I stood and watched the Newhaven Court Hotel fire from the Norwich Road.
“I was in a group of students on our way to an evening class at Cromer High School (the first year that the school introduced
GCE O-levels, which were until then only tackled by the grammar schools.”