History

BEN RHYDDING CROQUET CLUB HISTORY

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Croquet was played in Ilkley until 1980 at two well known town venues: Ilkey Lawn Tennis Club and also at the Craiglands Hotel. In 2004 Ilkley U3A Croquet Group was created as part of Ilkley U3A. A playing are and facilities were found at Ilkley Lawn Tennis Club and money was raised to purchase essential croquet equipment.

In April 2005 twenty-two members attended the first playing session, at Ilkley Lawn Tennis Club (now Ilkley Lawn Tennis and Sports Club). At this time the Club received valuable coaching help from members of Ripon Croquet Club and Pendle and Craven Croquet Club. The group quickly became very successful and subsequently became members of both the Croquet Association and the Yorkshire & Humberside Croquet Federation.

The Club played at the Tennis Club for three seasons (2005 – 2007) on three small lawns. Club membership rose rapidly to 60 and larger lawns were required to meet growing numbers and skill levels. We were fortunate to find facilities at Burley in Wharfedale Cricket Club in 2008 where the club flourished and prospered. We were involved in helping to set up the Yorkshire Federation League and had several very successful years in the league. Friendly fixtures were arranged with clubs across Yorkshire and also with Pendle Croquet Club. Taster Days with local Community Groups were organised and we began to welcome visitors from both ‘home’ and abroad

In 2011 we moved back to Ilkley and played on four croquet lawns using lawns used by the tennis section of Ben Rhydding Sports Club. At this point the U3A group had to become part of Ben Rhydding Sports Club and Ben Rhydding Croquet Club was founded. In essence however it remains part of the U3A movement maintaining the ethos and principles of the U3A organisation. Grants from Ilkley U3A, Ilkley Parish Council, the Croquet Association and Bradford Council together with an interest free loan from Ben Rhydding Sports Club, enabled the Croquet Club to a) re-organise the tennis playing area to enable croquet to be played, b) replace the old pavilion and c) provide additional secure storage facilities. Work continues to improve both the playing surface and our facilities.

The Club is very indebted to the hard work undertaken by Richard Lorimer who was responsible for introducing croquet to Ilkley U3A and who was the driving force in its initial formative years until well after our move to Ben Rhydding.  Richard deserves our unreserved thanks.