The Norwood Society

Norwood Sports Club

The Norwood Sports Club was founded in the year 1881 by the Lord of the Manor, Alfred Steer who built the present Clubhouse. In 1888 the upper part of the Ground was acquired on lease from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and the Norwood Club then became the largest Tennis Club in the World, with 54 grass courts. The old South Norwood Cricket Club which played originally at the bottom of Albert Road transferred to the Norwood Club in 1883.

When the old Mr. Steer died he left the Club to his son Harry who then sold it and finally, after changing hands on a number of occasions until just before the first World War, it was acquired by Messrs. Bersey and Middleton, who turned it into the White Lodge Ltd. The 1914/18 war ruined the Club and it was sold to Cox’s Bank and the Eagle Star and British Dominions Insurance Co. bought it. In 1932 it was put up for sale as building land and the Club formed a Committee who approached the Croydon Corporation and persuaded them to buy the land and lease it to the Norwood Sports Club Ltd. who have operated uninterrupted since that date*.

The old Golf Course was requisitioned during the 1914/18 War for Gun Sites, Balloons, etc. and was ruined for Golfing purposes. It subsequently became the property of the Croydon Corporation as did the Norwood Lake which is still one of the most pleasant aspects of the Club with facilities for swimming, boating and in severe winters, ice skating. The Council subsequently organised that area into a public park with fishing rights to the public. The view of anglers trying their luck together with the yachts skimming over the water is quite unique for a position no more than 7 miles from the centre of London. The Norwood Club has numbered many celebrities amongst its Members chiefly in the world of tennis. G.C. Eames, who was an American champion in his day, Bunny Austin, and more recently the British Davis Cup Player, Roger Becker. Another well-known visitor who came along frequently was Dr. W. G. Grace who at the time played bowls at the Crystal Palace and was not unknown in the world of cricket! Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was also a member and C.A. Mercer the Kent all-comers tennis champion, Sidney Ellis and L. F. Elliott both international rugby players and M.G. J. Ritchie another famous tennis player have also played for Norwood.

The German Emperor was staying at the Queens Hotel, Upper Norwood, on one occasion and the President of the Norwood Club sent him a golden key and made him an Honarary Member. He came round one morning at 6 o’clock and old Hinks (the Steward) showed him around. He asked if all the people of Norwood were away and when he was told they were not yet up, was very amused. Shades of today!

The Club today* is a thriving organisation that gives facilities in a wonderful setting for cricket, bowls, tennis, on grass and hard courts, badminton and billiards complete with attractive fishing, swimming and sailing on the lake alongside one can spend many pleasant hours at the Norwood Sports Club.

*Note: A lot has changed since 1966, but one can still fish, play cricket, sail, and play bowls and hard-court tennis.

The Norwood Review Edition #27. Published 1966