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Birmingham Post - News - West Midlands News - Edgbaston Priory Tennis Club planning multi-million pound transformation

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Edgbaston Priory Tennis Club planning multi-million pound transformation

Jun 3 2010 By Nick McCarthy

Edgbaston Priory Tennis Club has announced multi-million pound redevelopment plans, which will transform the Birmingham club into a world class centre of excellence.

The ambitious development will include a new performance centre, six new indoor tennis courts, new clubhouse facilities and a new showcase centre court at the Sir Harry’s Road site.

The scheme, which will be subject to planning permission from the city council, could also include a museum focusing on the birth of lawn tennis in Edgbaston.

Roger Draper, chief executive of the LTA said: “We are delighted to be able to invest in the redevelopment of the Edgbaston Priory Club.

“It will provide the community with access to this site and improve the delivery of tennis across the whole city, boosting the sport from both a performance and grass roots perspective.”

“This investment will also secure the future of the AEGON Classic in Birmingham for years to come.

“We are looking forward to working with the city council to improve tennis in England’s second city.”

This year's Aegon Classic, which is a pre-Wimbledon tournament for women players, starts on Monday, June 7.

Councillor Martin Mullaney, Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport and Culture, said the plans would make Birmingham a centre of excellence and a UK “beacon for tennis.”

He added: “We were involved in talks about this 12 months ago with the LTA and the club. This will take the club facilities above the current level. The move up the ranks will bring more world class tournaments and top tennis players to this city.

“This will make Birmingham a beacon in tennis excellence and it will also bring investment into the grass roots levels in the city.”

A spokeswoman for the Priory Club said: “This major investment from the LTA aims to secure the long term future of grass court tennis in Birmingham.

“The development plans will boost the club’s reputation as an international tournament venue, help to support and develop the club’s performance programme and further enhance the club’s status as an LTA High Performance Centre. In addition, the development will significantly help to improve community access to tennis in the local area and across the city.

“The construction of the indoor tennis centre and show court form part of a multi-million pound proposal to redevelop the Edgbaston Priory Club site which includes new squash, gym and leisure facilities together with a major refurbishment of the clubhouse.

“The proposals were approved by members at a special general meeting in April and are now being finalised in advance of a submission for planning consent.

“As part of the proposals, the club has agreed terms with Calthorpe Estates to lease an additional four acres of adjacent land on the former Tally Ho! Bowling Club site on which the new indoor tennis centre will be built.”

Edgbaston councillor Deirdre Alden said: “This is really exciting news for Edgbaston. Hopefully it will help to attract even bigger tournaments and even more high profile players to the city.

“It should be welcomed. It’s pleasing that there will be a museum aspect because the game of lawn tennis was supposedly first played here in Edgbaston.”

The origins of The Priory Club date back around 130 years. The club was formed in December 1964 following a merger between Edgbaston Lawn Tennis Club, founded in 1878, and Priory Lawn Tennis Club, founded in 1875.

A disastrous fire completely destroyed Priory’s Clubhouse in 1963 – hence the club’s logo, which is a Phoenix rising from the ashes.

The private members club now boasts 29 tennis courts, 10 squash courts, heated indoor and outdoor swimming pools, outside spa, fitness facilities and a licensed bar and restaurant.

The Priory has been hosting a pre-Wimbledon AEGON Classic ladies international tennis event since 1982, with past winners including Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova and Maria Sharapova.

The club nearly lost the tournament (formerly the DFS Classic) this year, but the LTA granted a one-year extension in October, ending months of uncertainty.The tournament runs from June 7-13.


Tennis was played in Edgbaston as early as 1869.

It was the brainchild of Major Thomas Henry Gem, a clerk to Birmingham Magistrates, who played against Augurio Perera, a Spanish merchant.

The game was played on the croquet lawn at Ampton Road – Perera’s home in Edgbaston.

The dimensions of the court were identical to those used today, but the height of the net was different.

There is no longer a lawn tennis court at the Ampton Road site. Only a blue plaque on the gates commemorates the birthplace of lawn tennis.



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