Tennis Club History

  • Tennis


    Riddell and Jarvis Courts

    In 1885 one of the earliest public tennis courts was established in Craig-y-Don.  Ridell and Jarvis Courts were situated where the St Davids English Methodist Church now stands on Mostyn Avenue.   

     This picture is from about 1905 difficult to tell if these were grass or hard courts.

    Two Llandudno players, James C. Parke and Alfred E. Beamish, were in the victorious Davis Cup team of Nov 28th 1912 in Melbourne. 

    The article below is written by Senior Club Member, Gwen Manchester and comprises of extracts of her ongoing and fascinating research into the life and times of James Cecil Parke, an amazing all-round athlete and former Wimbledon champion who lived in Llandudno and who in all probability graced the original CYD Tennis Club courts.

     I was going to write a small piece for the newsletter about the start of Lawn Tennis in 1873, its North Wales connections and early history. As I was taking a photo of Tennis Court house in Victoria Street, I got into conversion with a neighbour who said, "Is it right that a Wimbledon champion lived in Llandudno?” I remembered Ivor Wynne Jones writing in his Llandudno Queen of the Welsh Resorts that a Llandudno solicitor played in a winning Davis Cup team. So this is the short story of James Cecil Parke, Ireland's Finest Ever Sportsman. He was remembered on the 100th anniversary of Ireland's first rugby test against France in 1909. He played 20 times for Ireland after making his debut in 1903 as a Trinity College student. He captained the side twice and was one of the famous 13 players who beat Wales in Belfast in 1906 after both Ireland's half backs had been carried off injured.

    Parke was born in Clones, Co Monaghan in 1881, at the age of nine, he was a chess champion, he played golf for Ireland in 1906, he was a good cricketer and Track and Field athlete, but by the time of his last rugby appearance he was concentrating on his first love - tennis, the sport that brought him lasting fame. His tennis record (numbers vary slightly) say he played 193 matches, lost 40 a win average of 83%, he won 31 career titles, his highest ranking was 3 in 1912, but between 1909 and 1914 he was never out of the top 6 rankings. At Wimbledon, he was a quarter finalist and semi finalist on many occasions in singles, men's doubles and mixed doubles. He was in the finals of the mixed doubles with Ethel Thomson Larcombe in 1913, runner up, and in 1914 winner again with Ethel, they beat Marguerite Broquedis (the French No 1) and Anthony Wilding , 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. In 1920, after being wounded twice in the first World War, he was again a finalist in the men's doubles, partnered by Algernon Kinscote against the US team of Chuck Garland and R Norris Williams. (Parke was then 39).

    James C Parke

    On the world scene, in Paris, 1907, he won the singles title beating the Australian Craig Herbert Newcombe, 6-1,6-2,6-2 . (I wonder if he was an ancestor of another famous Newcombe.) He won a silver medal at the 1908 London Olympic Games in the men,s doubles.1912 was his great year,winning the singles title in the Victoria Championship beating Francis Lowe 6-3,6-0. 6-2 In Hastings, New Zealand he beat Alfred Beamish at the Australasia Open-6,6-3,1-6,6-1,7-5 and with his partner Charles Dixon, won the men’s doubles against Beamish and Lowe. He was the star of the 1912 Davis Cup, played in Melbourne, playing for the British Isles team (this was before the partition of Ireland). He defeated Norman Brookes, Australia's first tennis legend (the Men’s Singles Cup is named after him) in four sets in the opening rubber, he also won the fifth rubber against Rodney Heath to clinch a 3-2 win for Britain. Parke continued his brilliant Davis Cup career at Wimbledon the following year defeating the two top American players Maurice McLoughlin and Norris Williams in two thrilling five setters, but the British Isles lost this one 3-2.

    Parke joined up in 1914 and had a distinguished career, he was wounded twice. Despite his injuries he was back playing tennis in 1920, aged 39 he was still ranked at number 4, he is described in newspaper accounts at the time as a great box office player. All reports allude to his brilliant, instinctive and occasionally impetuous play. A New York Times article dated June 1920 described the spectators at a match in which Parke beat the then American singles champion William Johnston as being "agog with excitement throughout what was regarded as one of the greatest matches ever played on the historic Wimbledon court"Tennis Court HouseJames C Parke Plaque

    So, James Cecil Parke a tennis hero that most of us had never heard of, Where does the Llandudno connection come from? In March 1918, eight months before the war ended, he married Sibyl Edith Smith, from Chester in Conwy. I have yet to find any newspaper details about the wedding, but it must have got some coverage! In December last year, Swayne Johnson, solicitors in Trinity Square Llandudno celebrated the 70th anniversary of his death, he was a partner here when the firm was called Chamberlain, Johnson and Parke. They had a plaque erected for him outside their offices and at his home in Great Ormes Road. His son Patrick Arthur was born in Llandudno and also served as a solicitor in his father’s practice.  James played a very active part in his adopted home, being Chairman of North Wales Golf Club and Local Commissioner and Secretary of Llandudno Scouts Association. He was also instrumental in the Queens Road Recreational Project which established the Craig y Don Courts in 1931.James C Parke Grave

    A little bit more about his Llandudno story. His grave is in St Tudno Church cemetery on the Great Orme, so too, which is interesting is an almost identical monument for Sibyl's mother and father William and Edith Trevor Smith, who identifies as of Llandudno and Chester. There is a lot of information about him online and a video on YouTube called The Forgotten Legend of Irish Sport.




    The New Recreation Grounds and Tennis Courts in Queen's Road. 

    Old Courts

    In February 1931 the Unemployment Committee of Llandudno Council agreed to pay half the costs of the building of the proposed recreation park on a rough field in Craig y Don. It was said that there would be grant money coming to fund it. Some councillors thought the agreement should go back to the Council, some thought the cost of over £8,000 was too extravagant. But it was finally agreed that the plan would go ahead. Building would start in May and must be completed in six months. With speed, most of the work was completed in August. By August 6th it was reported that seven of the twelve courts were available for play. It was agreed that this would be a valuable addition to the town's attractions, for visitors and locals. A large pavilion and cafe had already been completed in the centre of the complex. There were to be 4 red shale hard courts and 8 all weather hard courts, which would be sprayed green. All courts except 2 have been arranged to run North to South to avoid interference from the sun, their dimensions comply with the Lawn Tennis International Federation standards, so that they can be used for official championships. There will be 2 exhibition courts, laid out in excess of standard dimensions to allow for fast play, ample space will be provided around the courts to accommodate spectators. A standard size crown bowling green will also be on the site. The commodious pavilion has a seven foot wide veranda which measures 87 by 84 feet. It comprises a spacious refreshment room, dressing rooms, ticket office and kitchen. From the pavilion there is an unobstructed view over all the play. There is also a 15 foot asphalt terrace which may be used for deck chairs. The charges for tennis and bowls will be in line with other resorts and there will be special rates for children at slack times.

    Courts3The work was carried out by Messrs. Luther Roberts and Son, Llandudno and the project was designed by W.T. Ward the Borough Engineer. In the newspaper with the details of the new Recreational Ground, there were adverts for a Paul Robeson Concert at the Pier Pavilion, Colwyn Bay, with Lawrence Brown, his pianist and the Municipal Orchestra. Playing at the Palladium Cinema was Howard Hughes," Hell's Angels" with Jean Harlow and Ben Lyon. At £800,000 it was the most expensive film ever made!













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