Contributed by Alistair Curley
Why was the creation of the Trophy Room in 1987 such an important event in our club’s history?
For those of you who didn’t know the club in those days, the Trophy Room space was rented out to architects, Heffernan Rees Nation and Viney; they had both up and downstairs premises. It was completely separate from the club and you entered their practice from the door in the courtyard below.
Think about what we take for granted today. A (half) decent kitchen, a great room for drinks and dinners, the ability to rent the room out for functions.
Before 1987, all club activity happened in the Butler Room downstairs. And I mean everything. The pro worked there, we had a small sink, a very basic stove, a tiny fridge and one dining table (still there). Every drinks party, every event happened there; the committee met there, with members unable to even have a drink after their game if the committee was in session. Memorable tournament lunches happened down there – some of them truly wonderful (remember Roger Jennings’ curried scallops?) – but there was no dishwasher (bar the pro) and it’s fair to say the old space heater struggled in the winter months.
We had some amazing dinners down there too. Twenty to thirty souls huddled together round trestle tables as the chefs conjured up stunning food from that tiny kitchen area. We hosted a 65th birthday dinner for the legendary Vernon Mursell down there, the room festooned in camouflage netting as part of its WW2 theme! In the 1982 and 1985 international tournaments, we hosted over 100 visitors each time, with downstairs carrying the load of social activity. That wonderful dining table down there saw a lot of action – not least plenty of table top dancing. Mercifully, it can tell no tales…
For the pros in 1987 (yours truly and his trusty sidekick, a certain R Fahey), work was done from a small space under the stairs. In that cramped area, we made the balls, did the bookings, stored all the grog and answered the phone. We only had one vice (if you believe that, you will believe anything) to string rackets.
So when the committee in 1986 started planning this move, it was a very significant decision. We would be giving up the long term reliable rental income of the whole space next door, and hoping we could rent out the lower level next door for less money. Could we then rent out the new Trophy Room regularly for social functions? These were all risks to the club but we also knew that the club had to offer more facilities to its members. The decision was made to proceed.
Bevan Rees did the plans and Brian Freeman got the building contract. The biggest element of the work was the creation of the opening from the Butler Room into the Trophy Room, with the removal of tons of sandstone. Club members endured a dusty few weeks as the work progressed. To save money, club members did much of the work, eg the timber roof lining was a shockingly tedious job done by Julian Joscelyne and Charlie Miller, with yours truly as labourer. We did all the painting too.
As part of the project, we also upgraded the men’s change rooms, re-carpeted and painted the Butler Room, put in a new bar counter / area in the Butler Room and revamped the pro area. (Of course, the club room only became known as the Butler Room some years later.)
There are some good stories – perhaps not all for publication! – about the building job, the fate of the sandstone excavated to make the entry into the room, why we have that unusual goose neck banister on the stairs up to the men’s change room, and the opening event itself was very special. Plus the committee’s debate about the choice of carpet probably was longer than the decision on the room itself! I well recall the passions of that argument: brown or blue, blue or brown? In hindsight, thankfully blue narrowly won the day. Well argued, Doctor Hallam!
The Committee decided on the name, in light of the wall cupboards commissioned for the room to hold our trophies. New dining tables and chairs – still there today – were purchased and the Trophy Room opened on 1 August 1987. Its first event was a dinner for the President Jim Cartledge and Committee who had so personally laboured to make it all happen. It has been a success ever since and the later addition of the deck outside only added to its amenity.
Today, we have a room that is the envy of many clubs. It can be formal or casual, it allows us to host visiting players and it delivers some additional income. But most important of all, it allows club members to truly enjoy the social aspects of our game in a wonderful setting. (And of course it spurred the creation of two new uniquely Tasmanian sports, rafter running and table surfing!)
There are now plans to upgrade the Trophy Room kitchen. After twenty-five years, it is time to set us up for the next twenty-five. I look forward to many more wonderful times in one of the greatest Rooms in the tennis world.