Sidmouth Cricket Tennis and Croquet Club
One of the oldest sporting clubs in Devon, founded in 1823; we have three sporting sections,
each with their own website:
Sidmouth Cricket Club
Sidmouth Tennis Club
Sidmouth Croquet Club
The Club’s mission statement is:
Sidmouth Cricket, Tennis and Croquet Club seeks to give members and guests the best environment
to enjoy all the club’s sporting and social facilities,
while providing a supportive and friendly atmosphere to help players achieve their potential
Clubhouse Telephone 01395 513 229
NON PLAYING SECTION
The sports club is a friendly organisation and welcomes non playing members from Sidmouth, the surrounding
area and, in fact, anywhere at all. Although we have yet to enrol our first non playing member from abroad
we do have many “country” members from elsewhere in the UK. These are often people who had an association
with the club or perhaps visited the club when on holiday here.
The common theme is that these members enjoy the club’s facilities and wish to support the club by joining
the Non Playing Section. Membership comes with the added bonus of a discount on the already competitive bar prices.
Forms to join or renew membership of the Non Playing Section are available at the clubhouse.
FRIENDS OF THE FORTFIELD
Members of any of the playing or non playing sections may also choose to join the Friends of the Fortfield
for a nominal amount. The Friends were formed in 1979 to conduct various fund raising activities.
Today those activities are mainly Sunday lunches in the winter, suppers and coffee/cake/book/bric a brac sale
mornings through the year. To date the Friends of the Fortfield have raised over £145,000 for the benefit
of the club.
A very short history of Sidmouth Cricket, Tennis and Croquet Club
Sidmouth Cricket Club was founded in 1823 and is one of the oldest cricket clubs in the Southwest.
Its ground, the Fort Field, adjacent to the sea, took its name from a small fort at its southern edge.
The fort had existed for over 200 years, but it had fallen into disrepair after the end of the Napoleonic Wars.
The Fort Field was rented in 1823 and including an adjacent area previously farmed in narrow strips at right
angles to the sea shore.
The Cricket Club prospered initially, hit hard times in the 1840s before reviving from the 1850s onwards, and
establishing itself a major force in the region. A substantial pavilion with a thatched roof was built in 1879.
The Lawn Tennis Club came into existence in 1881 with the construction of an asphalt court alongside some grass
courts. From the turn of the century onwards prestigious regional tennis tournaments were held and a number of
temporary grass courts were laid on the ground, including part of cricket field, for the duration of each tournament.
In 1907 the Croquet Club was formed and croquet was played on a single lawn to the east of the pavilion.
The three-sport club prospered in the first half of the C20th although the croquet section remained small.
In 1935, Col. Balfour, who owned the estate of which the Fort Field was a part, agreed to sell the ground for £5000.
A Trust was set up and subscribers raised the sum to purchase the freehold. An additional storey was added to the
pavilion in 1937.
Over an extended period both before and after WW 2 the cricket section increased the number of fixtures played
against touring teams from different parts of the country and from abroad, the tennis section continued to play
mainly on grass courts while croquet continued to operate on a single lawn. However, from the late 1960s onwards,
croquet extended its membership and by the 1980s the requirement for additional croquet lawns was pressing.
Three tennis courts to the west of the pavilion were converted from grass to all-weather and a few grass tennis
courts on the east side of the Fort Field were converted over time to croquet lawns.
From the millennium onwards tennis became stronger and membership increased. Floodlights were erected for evening
play, the all-weather courts were re-laid, competitive league tennis was increased and, with specialist coaching,
the junior section prospered.
Meanwhile croquet membership consolidated at over a hundred and twenty, more matches against other clubs were
played, and additional tournaments were arranged at both regional and national level on the club’s four lawns.
From 2000 onwards, the league-playing success of the cricket section at all levels surpassed anything that had
occurred previously, and colts cricket became strong. A hockey section, which had taken full membership of the
club after WW2, decided not to continue its direct links when it merged with the Ottery St Mary Hockey Club in 2014.
However, its male and female teams still use the club’s catering and bar facilities after Saturday league games
in the winter season.
Neil Gamble, 10th August 2018