Walsall Tennis Club forced to move after 106 years amid homes plan
A historic tennis club will be forced to leave its home of 106 years next month when its lease runs out.
Walsall Tennis Club, which has been running since 1912 and has around 250 members, will move from its Birmingham Road base on September 28.
The land has been earmarked for new homes by developers and club bosses are desperately looking for a new base.
All courts will be locked and keys will be removed at the close of play on September 26.
A statement made on behalf of the players’ committee said the move was ‘sad’ but praised landlords Cricket Close LLP for allowing the season to be played out.
The club is the only one of its kind in the borough.
The statement reads: “We have been given notice by our landlords that our licence to occupy the Birmingham Road site will not be extended beyond the current expiry date of September 28.
“After that date, no tennis activities will be permitted on the site and club members will be unable to enter.
“Sad as it is to see the end of a century of tennis on the site, it is nonetheless a situation for which we have had to prepare ourselves for the best part of a year and we can have few complaints in that.
“Having had the licence previously extended on several occasions, the landlords have allowed us the opportunity to both complete our summer calendar of team fixtures and have a season of social tennis.”
The club launched a fundraising campaign in 2016 to raise £400,000 towards finding a new home – but none has been found.
The site will be occupied by 50 homes if plans submitted to Walsall Council in July last year get the green light.
Keith Thorley, who lives in Cricket Close and is campaigning against the plans, said he will be sad to see the tennis club go.
“I collect tennis balls in my garden because I live directly next to the club,” he added.
“I will be sad to see it go, it’s a feature of the locality and a loss to Walsall.
“They’re talking to another local club in terms of moving there and relocating but that isn’t going to happen overnight.
“The residents would rather have the tennis club than a new development.
“Our concern now is the access to the site. We are not appealing against the housing.”
Walsall councillor Rose Martin said: “I think it’s sad for the area.
“Our tennis club is precious and it’s a crying shame for Walsall.
“It’s a good club and they do an awful lot for youngsters so it’s sad news that we’re going to lose it.”