pukekura park tennis club

The Pukekura Park Board received a letter in June 1910, at its monthly meeting stating that: “a movement was on foot to form a tennis club in Vogeltown, and the promoters are very desirous of utilising a portion of the Park fronting the Carrington Road, and adjoining the Vogeltown entrance― lying between the entrance and the caretaker’s cottage. At present the piece of ground is hardly used and it is the very place for such a purpose as we propose. We are asked to ascertain whether your board will grant us a lease of this ground at a nominal rate. If so we are prepared to call a meeting forthwith, have the club formed, and the courts prepared for next season’s play. It is hardly necessary for us to point out that the laying out of courts and the subsequent care of them will greatly enhance the appearance and usefulness of this portion of the Park.” This was viewed favourably by the Board.

Following a meeting at the Park with the group of individuals promoting the tennis and croquet club, the Park Board received a formal application which asked for a seven-year lease, with the right of renewal for a further term, and enough ground for four tennis courts and a croquet lawn. It also requested that the courts be entirely under the control of the club and stated that the public would be admitted to the enclosure, and that none of the existing footpaths or gateways would be obstructed.

The Board decided to grant the lease of about an acre of land as pegged out, for seven years, the first two years at a shilling a year, third year £4 a year, and the remaining four years £5, payable half-yearly in advance, upon certain conditions. Two of the conditions were that the land be cleared of fern weeds and rubbish and that notice boards be put up stating that public would have free access at all times. These two conditions were later rescinded by the Board.

On June 30, 1910, a meeting for the purpose of forming a lawn tennis and croquet club, chaired by the Mayor at the Council Chambers, was attended by about seventy ladies and gentlemen. The club was formed and named the “Park Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club”.  The officers elected were: president, Mr. R. Cock, vice-presidents; Messrs. G. Tisch, T. C. Schnackenberg, and Mr. Rudd; trustees; the vice-presidents; general committee, Messrs. F. W. Sandford, F. C. Tribe, T. C. List, H. J. Wells, and S. L. Mark; ladies committee, Mesdames. R. Cock, Dowling, F. C. Tribe, T. C. Schnackenberg, and Misses E. Smith, T. Okey and Hammond; treasurer, Mr. A. T. Moore; secretary, Mr. J. J. Staples. Prior to the official formation of the club the group had already been active attracting 54 men and 48 lady members. They had also sought tenders for the laying of the grass courts and the quote from A. J. Cole was accepted.

The club very quickly realised that their initial layout wasn’t adequate and employed surveyors, Sladden and Palmer to lay out the courts differently. After a retendering process, the job of laying the courts was given to A. J. Cole. The courts were ready for sowing by the middle of September. To get the grounds in order several working bees were organized, and at one of them   toward the end of September, the ladies selected the location for the clubhouse. It was located near the Carrington Road fence in between the tennis and croquet lawns.

In November George Lynch was appointed groundsman for the club.

The erection of the clubhouse started in mid December, and was designed by Committee member Major Sandford who drew the sketches and supervised the building work. The construction was mainly carried out by himself and Mr. F. C. Tribe with some additional help from other club members. Major F. W. Sandford was a woodwork teacher and leading light in the Scout movement in New Zealand, who was also a personal friend of Lord Baden Powell, the founder of the Scouting movement.

A garden party was organised at “Overdale”, the residence of Richard Cock to raise funds for building the clubhouse. Unfortunately inclement weather meant it wasn’t as successful as hoped. There was a write up about the event in The Daily News under the heading of “Woman’s World”, which included a description of what some of the ladies were wearing, for example: Mrs. Cock, black chiffon taffetas, black and white hat, with feathers; Mrs. Roberts, pretty crush strawberry linen, faced with black, saxe blue toque, trimmed with brown.

The tennis and croquet courts were ready for opening by the end of the year and was described as follows: “The courts are conveniently and picturesquely situated on the hill overlooking the big lake, and front on the old Carrington road. The area under the control of the club has been terraced, and the courts are on three different levels, with gradual slopes from the first pair to the second pair of tennis courts, then a smaller promenade lawn in front of the club house on a lower level, and just below it the croquet lawn. This latter has not thrived too well, and for this season the promenade lawn will probably be kept for the croquet ladies. The tennis courts are fenced with wire netting twelve feet high, and this will permit of the wide walk along the side being used with absolute safety by the spectators, whilst the players will also be relieved to know that no one can wander sort-of-aimlessly on to the playing area. A walk, to be planted with shrubs, and perhaps with flowers, will be made right round the courts; in fact there is very complete beautification scheme to be carried out, sufficient ground having been placed at the disposal of Club to make the courts very attractive. A handy little clubhouse has been erected, comprising an afternoon tea room, ladies’ and gentlemen’s dressing rooms, etc., and caretaker’s room, besides a small apartment sacred to the providers of the cup that cheers.”

The “Park Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club” was officially opened on January 3, 1911, by the Mayor Mr. G Tisch.
In 1923 the tennis club decided to change from grass courts to asphalt covered concrete courts and reduced the number of courts from five to four.
In 1933 a new club house was built. It was designed by club member Frank Tett, who was a drawing teacher at NPBHS. It was constructed by Messrs Peterson & Co.

In 1939 the tennis club was advised by the Pukekura Park Board that they would have to move from the present site on Victoria Road within five years because the Park Board needed the land for planting a shelter belt. This was a blow to the tennis club as they had built a new club house only a few years earlier. At that time the Park Committee looked at offering a piece of land next to the Gables which Thomas Horton said was big enough for six tennis courts and three croquet greens. Because of the war the clubs relocation was deferred.

The Park Tennis and Croquet Club was eventually relocated in 1953 to its current site at the end of Kura Street. The clubhouse was dismantled and rebuilt at the new site by the Council in July 1953.

The Park Lawn tennis and Croquet Club officially changed its name to “The Pukekura Park Tennis Club” in 1975 although “Pukekura” had appeared in its title as early as the 1920s.