Woking Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (WLTCC), while being progressive and forward looking is very aware and proud of its history and its inextricable links with Hook Heath, Woking and the unique and beautiful surroundings which have been home to the Club for over 100 years.
By Act of Parliament in 1852, the London Necropolis Company was established in response to the crisis caused in 1851 by the decision to close London’s overcrowded graveyards. The company set about ambitious plans to create a new cemetery around 25 miles from London to be served by a new steam railway line from Waterloo, large enough in scale to meet London’s future burial needs.
In 1854, the company opened Brookwood Cemetery on a very large parcel of land it had acquired on Woking Common and an area called Hook Heath. However, the cost of land purchase, construction of the cemetery and the rail link and mismanagement left the company close to bankruptcy and to address its pressing financial needs, it started to sell off land for commercial development.
In the 1880’s market conditions were right to develop the area of Hook Heath as Woking’s high-class residential district. In 1892, recognising the need to make the area attractive to developers and future residents, the London Necropolis Company supported the development of a Golf Club.
For the same reasons, in 1905 the company supported the formation of the Woking and District Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. The Club had 128 playing Members and 29 honorary Members with nearly all Members being local residents from Hook Heath. The Club subsequently dropped ‘and District’ from its name in 1929.
At its inception the Club had four croquet courts with the sport being so popular that during tournaments the Club had to use some of the tennis courts and even the lawns of some of the large houses in Hook Heath. In their first season the croquet players won the prestigious National Inter-Club Championship, a Championship the Club was to win many more times, last winning it in 1995.
The Club has produced many outstanding croquet County standard players with some who have represented Great Britain in international competitions including our past President Jeff Dawson, a current Great Britain international who has competed in the Solomon Cup against the USA and who is also Chairman of the Council of the Croquet Association. WLTCC is to this day one of the leading croquet Clubs in the South East of England.
Like croquet, tennis has been at the heart of the Club since 1905. As tennis became internationally more popular, the number of tennis playing Members at WLTCC progressively increased after the second world war with the 1960s and ‘70s seeing significant increases in junior Members. By 1971, total membership had grown to over 700 and, reflecting the increasing numbers of tennis playing Members and the need for year-round court availability, hard courts increasingly replaced the grass courts.
WLTCC has produced many high quality Club, county and national level players and has continually sought to enhance its reputation through effective coaching at all levels and through its ‘open’ tournaments. A small number of WLTCC players even have international rankings and currently represent Great Britain. The most recent open event to be established in the Clubs calendar is the International Veterans’ Tournament. Launched in 1999, the tournament is a fixture on the ITF tour with top quality, multi-national players visiting and competing at the Club.
In addition to croquet and tennis, the Club thrives in others sections. A chess section has been active at the Club since 1907, bridge playing was popular before the Second World War and in 1974 a bowls section started organising events.
From its beginnings in 1905 with just 158 Members, the Club now has a membership of almost 1,000. A friendly Club with a mission to be the leading Members’ run Tennis Club in Surrey and providing first class facilities for all other activities including croquet and other sports continues to thrive. New Members are always welcome as we plan for the future, building on the heritage of our past.