Some history ...

The Samuel Jones Factory, Southampton Way, Peckham, opened 1920 and demolished in 1982, made gummed papers marketed under its Butterfly brand. The Butterfly was the Camberwell Beauty named after specimens found locally in 1748 and now a very rare species. The factory was known for its mosaic of the butterfly which was saved and can, and should, now be seen on the wall of the Old Library building in Southwark Park, Wells Way.

Mary Datchelor Girls School, founded in 1877 and closed in 1981. The building was subsequently occupied for many years by the Save the Children Fund.

The grounds of the building including its garden and tennis courts were maintained by the charity, (as was initially its swimming pool for local use).

A local businessman, founder of Technotile, saw an opportunity to use the school tennis courts as a literal ‘sales pitch’ to sell his product, a form of all weather surface which could be quickly laid out for multi-purpose external use. He encouraged the local community to access the land to demonstrate their use as tennis courts to his customers.

So the ‘chrysalis’ of the existing Butterfly Tennis Club was first formed from these ‘eggs’ . It has gone through its many stages, often as slow moving as any caterpillar, but always with the strong support of the local community which it serves, being open to all.

The club was first officially formed in the early 1990s, a story best told by its founding members, only one of whom remains an active member. Another is Tim Berrington who always wanted to be known as an actor but made his living then mostly through his tennis coaching, a major attraction to adults and children in the early years of the club. His tradition of encouraging kids coaching lives on through the work of many members over the years.  (His subsequent success as an actor can be seen on line).

The major part of the Club’s history followed the decision of the Save the Children fund to move away and finance their move by developing the site for housing. St George produced plans for the whole site and the land then used as gardens and our tennis courts formed a battle ground for survival of the facilities.

Again, this story is best told by the members most involved in the battle, which we know was an amazing success. They know who they are, but will agree that the fight involved the whole local community with appropriate support from the Council. 

We invite all those involved in this history to add in their own dates, comments and stories.

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Text courtesy of Tony Atkins