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London Squash: The Claridge Courts

Although the sport of squash was invented in Britain, the primary squash governing physique on this planet was based, in 1904, within the United States. In truth, it was not till 1928 that an equal organisation, the Squash Racquets Association (SRA), was shaped to agree requirements for the sport in Britain, together with these for court docket dimension.

By that point, nevertheless, many squash courts had already been constructed which didn’t meet the brand new commonplace. Two of them had been in-built London throughout the interval 1919 – 1921 to the identical specification because the squash court docket on The Titanic which had sunk in 1912. The courts, referred to as The Claridge Courts, shaped a part of the premises of a service membership in London’s Piccadilly.

They had been to stay in use for nearly 100 years.

RAF Club, Piccadilly

The RAF Club

The Claridge Courts had been seventeen inches narrower than the 1928 SRA commonplace. During their post-1928 lifetime, this function was so as to add what has been described as “a certain measure of eccentricity” to the video games performed on them.

RAF Squash

The courts had been positioned on the premises of the RAF Club, established in late 1918 for the usage of members of the Royal Air Force. The RAF itself had been based solely on April 1st of the identical 12 months and was the primary such nationwide drive on this planet to develop into impartial of military or navy management. The RAF Club’s buildings, nonetheless in use right now, had been acquired by the center of 1919, their Piccadilly frontage being initially that of the Ladies Lyceum Club.

The RAF Club was formally opened by HRH The Duke of York in February 1922 and was visited the next month by Their Majesties King George V and Queen Mary. This affiliation with the Royal Family continues to this present day, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II being the Club’s Patron.

The Bath Cup

The Claridge Courts had been amongst the primary in London to host matches within the Bath Cup, the oldest squash league on this planet. Established in 1922, the Cup was named after its founders, the Bath & Racquets Club, and continues to be some of the prestigious squash competitions in Britain. The Cup is contested yearly by the oldest golf equipment in London together with: Queens, RAC, Hurlingham, Lansdowne, Roehampton, Oxford & Cambridge, MCC, Cumberland and Lloyd’s of London. The RAF Club has been represented within the competitors since its inception, pausing briefly within the early 1940s while its gamers had been in any other case occupied within the Second World War.

Over the years the Claridge Courts have additionally been used for inside competitors between Club members and their friends, in addition to for inter-service competitors with representatives of Britain’s different armed forces. The Club additionally has a protracted custom of pleasant competitors with different London-based golf equipment akin to Jesters, Escorts, Swans, Wine Traders, John Lewis, Old Wellingtonians and Civil Service, all of which have been capable of expertise the “eccentricity” of enjoying on The Claridge Courts.

The End Of An Era

Sadly, in 2016, a call was taken to renovate the inside of the RAF Club in response to rising demand for added lodging. One of the implications of the choice was the elimination of The Claridge Courts, marking the demise of two of the oldest squash courts on this planet.

One of these campaigning to avoid wasting the courts, Squadron Leader Philip Tilstone, a member for 30 years, mentioned: “Whilst I perceive the business causes for the choice to shut the courts I discover it extraordinarily disappointing that no different preparations have been proposed.

“By representing the club in the prestigious Bath Cup league as well as in many friendly matches during the season, players have been able to educate many of our opponents on the way the military works and become better informed about the challenges faced by those in the commercial world.”

Sources

Thanks to the RAF Club, the Royal Air Force, Wikipedia, The Times, West End Extra and The London Evening Standard.


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