In the post war years, late 1940's and early 1950's, all the land in Burnside and other suburbs was rapidly being subdivided for housing. The land now known as Miller Reserve (bounded by Sturdee Street, Devereux and Hay Road) an area of some five acres, was at that time owned by Herbie Miller, who was quite a well known local identity. He, along with some brothers and sisters, lived in a solid stone house (it had no electricity or running water) near the north west comer of the lower green of the Beaumont Bowling Club. Herbie and some of the family were deaf and dumb and because of this problem he knew Mr. R.R. Buttery, a solicitor who lived at 3 Hawke Street, Linden Park (adjacent to the Reserve). The late Mr. Buttery and his wife had lived at that address since 1929 and, being a great sportsman in his young days, Mr. Buttery and the late Jack Parkinson, then Councillor for Burnside Ward (Beaumont Ward did not become a separate Ward until 1954) had the foresight to realise that some land must be set aside for recreation purposes before it all became housing blocks.
In 1952 these men initiated discussions with the Burnside Council who agreed, after negotiation with the Miller family, to purchase the area for a very moderate figure. Council allowed the family life tenancy of the house and decreed the area should be known as Miller Reserve. A plaque was unveiled on the Reserve on December 6th 1980 during my time as Mayor of Burnside.
The development of the area as it is today took many years. First came the formation of the Beaumont Sports and Recreation Club as the body responsible to Burnside Council for the controlled development of the area. Mr. R.R. Buttery was the first President of the Beaumont Sports & Recreation Club, and N. G. Soward was Secretary.
A good deal of fund-raising had to be done as there were no grants (Government or Council) in those days. A small band of local residents formed a fund-raising committee and worked tirelessly. We held two Guy Fawkes Bonfire nights on what was then a dusty, bare area of the Reserve; held quiz nights, film shows, and many other fund-raising activities.
Beaumont Tennis Club - Eventually when the Beaumont Sports and Recreation Club had sufficient funds and support, they applied to Council for a lease of the land fronting Sturdee Street for tennis courts and the Devereux Road frontage for bowling greens.
In 1953 the development of the first two tennis courts commenced (by voluntary labour) as was the children's playground. The first cut (to level the land) was made by Council and from then on a band of men worked every Sunday morning for eighteen months preparing and laying the two courts. They were "blue lias" gravel courts that had to be watered and rolled before being played on.
I had formed a small group of women who (together with their small children) played tennis on Buttery's court in Sturdee Street during the week; and when it was time to put up the second-hand surrounds for the first court, we worked alongside the men de-rusting the ancient steel piping that was to form the upright posts for the surrounds.
The first two courts for the Beaumont Tennis Club were eventually finished and opened in time for the 1955-56 season. The club bought a second-hand tin shed for use as a Clubhouse (it was situated where no. 3 court is today).
The Club began to flourish; all the youngsters in the district wanted to learn to play tennis and we ran Tennis Clinics on Wednesday afternoons after school. This went on for some years - the Senior and Junior teams did well in their various grades in the Eastern Districts Tennis Association and the many social players enjoyed the recreation.
Burnside Council could then see that we were providing much needed recreation for both young and old in the community. With the help of Councillor T.B.C. Tregenza (Councillor for Beaumont Ward from 1954) the Council co-operated and provided for the putting down of two more hard courts and the converting of the first courts to hard courts also. This work was done under Council's loan programme and the Beaumont Tennis Club had to repay the loan to Council over the years.
During the next decade, further development took place on the Reserve. The Beaumont Bowling Club put down its first green in 1956 with further greens being constructed in 1960 and 1964. The oval area was extended and upgraded and is now the home ground of the Burnside Lacrosse Club.
A decision was taken by Council in 1966 to accommodate most of the Clubs using the Reserve under one roof and today we have the Beaumont Tennis Club and the Burnside Lacrosse Club and the Linden Park Guides all living happily in separate parts of the Clubhouse. This work was again done under the Council's loan programme - the various Clubs repaying their part of the loan.
Three more hardcourts for the Beaumont Tennis Club Inc. were added later and with the advent of the new Clubhouse, the long time vision of those early volunteers became a reality and the work of the Beaumont Sports and Recreation Club was finished.
The Beaumont Tennis Club Inc. has continued to attract players over the years. It is now mainly a Club playing competitive tennis; but thanks to the various Office Bearers and Committee members, it has continued to flourish.
This is a very brief history of the area, of which the Beaumont Tennis Club Inc. is an integral part, and, as one who has been involved from the beginning, I wish to mention some people who have contributed greatly to the development of the Reserve and its associated Clubs. Many of these people have now passed on, but their names should be recorded for posterity. To name but a few, the late J.H. Parkinson (former Mayor, Alderman, and Councillor of the City of Burnside). The late T.B.C. Tregenza (former Alderman and first Councillor for Beaumont Ward). The late R.R. Buttery - the former City Engineer - the late G. V. Allen. The late AE. Cousin, former Town Clerk and my husband, N. G. Soward. May the Beaumont Tennis Club continue to flourish.
Coralie J Soward
Coralie Soward (1923-2004) was Club Treasurer from 1955 to 1958 and Patron from 1974 to 1991. She also served the community as Burnside Mayor in the 1980's.