I was allowed to copy this photograph almost twenty years ago by the owner, a Lightcliffe resident who has since passed away. What happened to the original? It was probably thrown out, like so many others. Looking at the style of clothing, it is probably an Edwardian photograph, and the smartness of clothes suggests everyone is wearing Sunday best.
Let us assume we have a photograph taken between 1902 and 1910 and probably on a Sunday. It appears that the ladies and gentlemen might be about to indulge in afternoon tea, traditionally taken at 4 p.m. Now we have a period of time, a day of the week and possibly the hour, but where is the setting?
The clue is the faint outline of buildings in the background – part of Brooke’s Nonslip flag works on Halifax Road. The group is, in fact, sitting in the grounds of Victoria Tennis Club, past Tennyson Bungalow at the end of Victoria Road, on land now occupied by Sandholme Fold. The courts were eventually taken over by Hipperholme Methodist Church, although, when the Sandholme estate was built (the first houses were occupied in 1965) they and the pavilion had fallen into disuse.
The Victoria Tennis Club was one of the earliest clubs to be formed in our area, back in 1883. During the 1920s the sport flourished and two new courts were established at Lightcliffe Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club. The site of the courts, not used since the early 1980s, remains at the top corner of the cricket field, although some of the land has recently been taken for gardens as part of the Pear Tree Farm development.
The identity of the Edwardian citizens, sitting in such splendour as they wait patiently for the photographer to finish his job so that they can partake of their refreshment, remains a mystery.