The Fitzwilliam Story - (extracts from "The Fitzwilliam Story" 1877 - 1977 by Ulick
It was not, in fact, first called the Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club. In November 1877 ten men met to found the Dublin Lawn Tennis Club. It was to have 30 members who pay a subscription of £3 a year. At the next meeting on 23rd November, it was decided to lease some ground in Upper Pembroke Street (just off Fitzwilliam Square) from Sir Francis Brady for £25 per annum on a ten year lease. It wasn’t until the next meeting on December 6th that Arnold Graves, one of the Committee, proposed that to “avoid confusion” the Club be called the Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club”...
The names of the first Committee were F W Browne, 47 Raglan Road; A F Graves, University Club; F E Greene, 49 Stephens Green; J G Kennedy, Belgard, Clondalkin; J J D La Touche, 1 Ely Place: C D LA Touche, 34 Stephens Green; J J Stopford, 24 Merrion Street; G McMurdo, Irish Lights Office; J L Wingfield, Fairy Hill, Bray; R Guinness (co-opted), 10 Lower Leeson Street...
The early minutes, as befits a small club, deal frequently with reports on the misdemeanours of members. One of them is censured for allowing ladies to play with heels on the court...
Another time the members were penalised for flooding the courts at Christmas and using them as a skating rink …
Time for a change
In 1880, the Club made its first change of premises.
There was not sufficient room at Upper Pembroke Street to accommodate the growing membership.
A ground at Wilton Place adjacent to Lad Lane was selected and a house, No. 6 Wilton Place, was purchased as a Club premises.
Courts were laid down and the house converted for Club purposes with a few rooms upstairs reserved for resident members.
This was to be the Fitzwilliam grounds for 92 years, though until 1903 the Irish championships would continue to be played at Fitzwilliam Square...
In 1902 a decision was taken to build a pavilion at the grounds at Wilton Place.
The house at 6 Wilton Place was to be sold. The pavilion would be build by a Mr Metz of 62 Coleman Street, London.
Many who recall the old pavilion at Wilton Place will recollect the hint of a Swedish summer house.
It is interesting to note that Mr. Metz, the builder was listed in London was an importer of Norwegian and Swedish houses...
Change of Venue
In 1903 it was decided to change the venue of the
championships from Fitzwilliam Square to the ground where the new pavilion would stand.
From that year up to 1972 (with one exception) the
championships would be played at Wilton Place.
In 1969 the members were called on to make a decision which would involve moving premises from Wilton Place...
The new club would be at Appian Way, about ten minutes walk from the old premises, and still within the ambit of the city centre.
The building of the new clubhouse and the laying of the courts took two years to complete … Fitzwilliam now had one of the finest sports complexes of its kind in Europe.