Future is rosy for “unique” tennis club in St Albans

Tennis Club in St Albans with links to Rose’s Cordial celebrates 50th anniversary

A ST ALBANS inner city tennis club whose history is entwined with a beverage company which produced a juice product used by sailors to ward off scurvy is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Salisbury Lawn Tennis Club was formed on Salisbury Avenue, Fleetville, 50 years ago, on grounds once owned by L. Rose and Co. Ltd, of Rose’s Cordial Mixer Lime Juice and lime marmalade fame.

Under the Merchant Shipping Act of 1867 it was compulsory for ocean-going ships to provide lime juice rations, a remedy against scurvy. Lauchlin Rose set up a branch of business provisioning ships with supplies including lime juice. However when the London branch was badly damaged by bombing during the Second World War, the company came to St Albans, and Rose’s Cordial was bottled at its works on Grosvenor Road.

The Herts Advertiser reported in October 1960 on how the Rose’s sports club started from “humble beginnings” during the early days of the war, when some of Rose’s evacuated employees banded together to form a tennis club in 1940 to “pass away the long evenings.”

Giles Wilkinson, public relations spokesman for the tennis club, explained that the present private club came into being in 1961 when former owners, Rose’s, realised that only two employees actively belonged to the tennis section of Rose’s sports and social club, and that there were 36 associate members who were not directly connected to the renowned company.

Thus, at a special meeting of Rose’s sports club, the company said it could no longer justify subsidising recreational activities, and so the associates were invited to run the club privately.

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Sue Birchall, who lives in St Albans and has been coaching at the club for about 26 years, said the club was a friendly one that served the local community.

She recalled a “rather sweet” notice once put on a net that said: “Please wind up the nets to prevent the hedgehogs being caught in the nets.”

Back in 1961 Salisbury Lawn Tennis Club had 57 members, 11 juniors and two “afternoon members.”

Giles said that the club currently has 242 members, including 100 juniors.

He said: “The club is well represented with fixtures largely within southern Hertfordshire, across its teams, and there are opportunities for social as well as competitive matches.

“We are very fortunate in having such an attractive setting for the club which helps it retain its unique charm.”

The club is hosting a 50th anniversary function at Homewood Road Church Hall, with the Fiddle Bridge Ceilidh Band, on Saturday June 18 at 7.30pm. Giles is keen for past and present members to attend the celebration. Please email him at: gileswilko@hotmail.com for details.