The History of Chippenham Park (Westinghouse) Tennis Club

Westinghouse was one of our original 8 Founder Clubs in 1961, only 3 of which survive, and really the main driving force which established our League. Two keen players, Gordon Budgell and David Fidler, sensed the wind of change away from 3-pair weekend to 2-pair evening midweek matches and created our currently successful format but could not have foreseen its popularity and growth.

Westinghouse Sports Club was established by the large Chippenham Engineering company of Westinghouse Brake & Signal Co Ltd in Wiltshire as a multi-sports Works Club for its many employees, at one time numbering over 12,000! Bowls, cricket, tennis and athletics were summer activities with hockey and table tennis in winter. A large wooden Clubhouse with veranda was erected in the 1930s and a more modern building added alongside the Bowls Green in the 1970s – tennis typically had just a small wooden hut without water and sanitation. Two courts faced the traditional North-South but the other two were East-West, providing a real challenge to those facing strategic lobs into the setting sun.

Surprisingly Westinghouse, the largest League Club in the first few years and one of the foremost until the 1990s, has not featured frequently in the League Rolls of Honour. Its Ladies won in 1962 and Mixed in 1961 & 1962 but the Men never achieved the top spot. Founder members also of the Handicap KO Mixed Cup in 1967 and the O50s Mixed Cup in 2001, Westinghouse only won the Handicap Cup once in 1969 and were consistently losing finalists in the O50s for successive years.

Apart from Messrs Budgell and Fidler, Westinghouse has had many notable players. Ted Edwards, Barton Little, Godfrey Rawlings & Arthur Whale were the “Four Musketeers” – a mature team of contrasting styles, but all baseliners with great accuracy and persistence, most difficult to defeat on their home courts. Then came Grahame & Janet Parker, Derek & Janet Phillips, Muriel Rowe, Steve Henly & Graham (Paddy) Johnson and more recently Caroline Attridge and Andrew Douglas

Gordon Budgell, the original League Secretary, switched to Treasurer in 1963/4 and was made Life Member in 2000. David Fidler was the original Match Secretary until 1968, also Secretary 1963/4 and Chairman 1969/70 before moving away- he was awarded the Millennium Shield in 2002. Derek Phillips was Treasurer for 4 years and made Life Member in 2000, when Grahame Parker was made Life Vice President. Caroline Attridge was voted Club Rep of the Year in 2008.

Regrettably owing to diversification, considerable downsizing and eventual relocation of the Westinghouse Company, the attractive sports ground off the A420 Bristol Road and opposite Hardenhuish Park Secondary Schools Campus has been sold for residential development but is currently mothballed until this can proceed. The remaining nucleus of Westinghouse Tennis Club has re-formed at Chippenham Park, replacing the previous Park Club, which was also one of the League’s Founder Clubs in 1961 but folded in 1992.

Chippenham Park Tennis club still has one founding member Derek Phillips, who started playing for Westinghouse in 1963 and is still very active in the club.
Andrew Douglas has just retired as chairman after 17 years in the post after seeing the club through the transition to John Coles Park, with new courts, clubhouse and into the computer age.