Ladies Lawn Tennis Club



The Ladies Lawn Tennis Club in Singapore was established in 1884.1 The club gained popularity soon after it was formed, but membership started falling by the 1920s and it was eventually closed in 1932. The Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) took over the club’s grounds in Dhoby Ghaut in 1933.2

Establishment
The Ladies Lawn Tennis Club was established in 1884 by A. L. Donaldson of the law firm Donaldson and Burkinshaw.3 Lawn tennis had become increasingly popular then and it was a sport favoured by European women, though there were limited public grounds for playing.4 This changed when the government gave permission for the club to occupy the premises in Dhoby Ghaut on 29 May 1884. A pavilion costing some $632 was erected on the grounds.5 According to One Hundred Years of Singapore (1991; first published 19216), the club had accumulated seven courts in the Dhoby Ghaut area by 4 October 1884.7

Growth
In 1884 when the club started, Dhoby Ghaut was considered a rural area. The Raffles Museum and Library had not yet been built,8 the canal still had earthen banks and there were no houses around.9 Despite its location, the club, located on a grassy strip of land formerly known as Dhoby Green,10 attracted patrons.11 As exclusive as the Tanglin Club, it was difficult to gain admittance into the Ladies Lawn Tennis Club.12 Any bachelor that was elected as a subscribing member, albeit one without voting rights, was deemed to be a distinguished individual.13

Soon after the Ladies Lawn Tennis Club was formed, it gained popularity. The first club meeting was held at the home of a Mrs Rowell. Mrs Clementi Smith was invited to be the lady patroness, and her nephew, then Acting Governor of the Straits Settlements Cecil Clementi Smith, became an honorary member.14 European ladies were seen playing tennis and croquet daily until the club premises was taken over by the YMCA.15 Tournaments were held regularly.16


Demise
By the 1920s, with many more clubs offering tennis, membership at the Ladies Lawn Tennis Club started to fall steadily. It was reported in The Straits Times newspaper on 29 July 1932 that the club would cease to exist by the end of that month. The club had been experiencing increasing difficulties for the past two to three years. As support for the club had dropped so seriously, its committee decided to close it down.17 The ladies were to continue playing tennis but at the Tanglin Club instead, another haunt of the European community at the time.18

The club grounds were taken over by the YMCA in 1933.19 In addition, the YMCA took over the liabilities of the club, which amounted to $5,000.20 As the turf was large enough, the main portion was set aside for tennis courts, while a plot was designated for basketball, volleyball, cricket and other games.21 The hard courts were converted into grass courts and the pavilion and grounds were renovated.22



Author

Jeanne Louise Conceicao



References
1. Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then & now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 68. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
2. ‘Ladies’ Lawn’ to close. (1932, July 29). The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Makepeace, W., Brooks, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 337. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS])
4. Summary of the week. (1884, July 16). Straits Times Weekly Issue, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Makepeace, W., Brooks, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 338. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS])
6. Makepeace, W., Brooks, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1921). One hundred years of Singapore [Microfilm no.: NL 6542]. Singapore: John Murray.
7. Makepeace, W., Brooks, G. E., & Braddell, R. S. J. (Eds.). (1991). One hundred years of Singapore (Vol. 2). Singapore: Oxford University Press, p. 337. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 ONE-[HIS])
8. Summary of the week. (1884, July 16). Straits Times Weekly Issue. p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then & now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 68. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
10. Summary of the week. (1884, July 16). Straits Times Weekly Issue, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then & now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 68. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS]); Peet, G. L. (1985). Rickshaw reporter. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, p. 122. (Call no.: RSING 070.924 PEE)
12. Braddell, R. (1947, April 19). Memories of old Singapore. The Straits Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then & now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 68. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
14. ‘Ladies’ Lawn’ to close. (1932, July 29). The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then & now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 68. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
16. ‘Ladies’ Lawn’ to close. (1932, July 29). The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. ‘Ladies’ Lawn’ to close. (1932, July 29). The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
18. Peet, G. L. (1985). Rickshaw reporter. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, p. 123. (Call no.: RSING 070.924 PEE)
19. Good progress made by YMCA. (1933, March 1). The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. ‘Ladies’ Lawn’ to close. (1932, July 29). The Straits Times, p. 13. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Good progress made by YMCA. (1933, March 1). The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Y.M.C.A. re-laying tennis courts. (1947, September 20). The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



Further resources
Buckley, C. B. (1965). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore 1819–1867. Kuala Lumpur: University of Malaya Press.
(Call no.: RCLOS 959.57 BUC-[HIS])

How Singapore women kept fit in the sixties. (1936, July 30). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewsaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2009 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.
 

Subject
Sports and games
Ladies Lawn Tennis Club (Singapore)
Architecture and Landscape>>Building Types>>Public Buildings
Sports, recreation and travel>>Ball games>>Racket games>>Tennis
Public buildings
Recreation>>Sports
Arts>>Architecture>>Public and commercial buildings
Tennis clubs--Singapore