Budleigh Salterton Croquet Club open their new pavilion

PUBLISHED: 08:48 29 March 2019 | UPDATED: 09:53 29 March 2019

The colts team that visited Madeira.

The colts team that visited Madeira.

Archant

An ‘incredibly generous’ donation by a member has enabled Budleigh Salterton Croquet Club (BSCC) to build a new pavilion matching the style and character of the previous building, which was unsafe, writes Stephen Andrews.

An ‘incredibly generous’ donation by a member has enabled Budleigh Salterton Croquet Club (BSCC) to build a new pavilion matching the style and character of the previous building, which was unsafe, writes Stephen Andrews.

Club chairman Mrs Alison Maddaford said: “When the old pavilion was declared unsafe, we thought we would have to dig very deep into our reserves to replace it. But this quite magnificent donation saved the day.”

The Mayor of Budleigh Salterton, Councillor Tom Wright, was present at the opening on Wednesday (March 27).

He remarked: “I was delighted to be invited to the opening of the new pavilion. Budleigh Salterton has one of the leading croquet clubs in Europe and the Budleigh-based South West Croquet Academy is spreading the game far and wide.

“This pavilion has been sympathetically designed and built and is very much in accord with the history and culture of the club. It is a major addition to the club’s facilities.”

The pavilion provides shelter, seating and storage space. It has been designed with three sides of glass so that it will provide a panoramic view of the main lawns.

BSCC started life in 1870 as a croquet and archery club, both of which sports were mainly seen as female pursuits. Subscription was ten shillings a year.

By 1884, tennis was introduced and archery and outdoor badminton fizzled out by the end of the century. At that time, there were three croquet lawns and five tennis courts.

Twenty years later, however, there were 19 tennis courts (17 grass and two hard), though croquet with its five lawns was still a significant contributor.

It is recorded that the 1929 tennis tournament was marred by “unruly ball boys.” There was a good deal of shouting and the boys had to be replaced by better-behaved girls – who were paid substantially less.

A bowls section was started in 1931 and an international croquet match against New Zealand took place in 1956 (Great Britain 7-2).

In the 50s and 60s, though, the Budleigh Salterton tennis tournament was a significant event on the national calendar. The men’s titles were won by the likes of Tony Pickard, Jaroslav Drobny and Mike Sangster while Angela Mortimer and Evonne Goolagong were among the ladies’ winners.

In 1970, however, the club decided that it had become the servant of the Lawn Tennis Association rather than the other way round and tennis ceased, to be replaced solely by croquet.

With its 290 members in total, 11 magnificent lawns and a flourishing bridge section, Budleigh Salterton Croquet Club now has a national and international reputation for excellence.

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