Clifton Lawn Tennis Club was founded in 1882 and the courts were built on land owned by the local railway company. The company wanted to extend the line from Clifton Down station out to Avonmouth docks and a tunnel was driven underneath the land on which the Club now stands. The houses above the tunnel entrance were purchased by the railway company and demolished and a tennis club was formed on this land under the auspices of the Duke of Beaufort. The Club rented the land from the railway company.
At the start of the Inter County Championship the Gloucestershire Men’s County Team were champions from 1895 to 1897 and all the team were from Clifton. They won the titles playing the Gloucestershire game which was played entirely from the baseline. In its early days Clifton members won several Wimbledon titles and others were Wimbledon finalists. In more recent times one of our members, Frew McMillan won many Grand Slam titles, before turning his hand to commentating. For many years the Club was one of the top clubs in the various Bristol leagues winning titles in many years.
In 1971 the Club raised some £25,000 from its members and their friends, and together with a grant from The Sports Council of £10,000 and loans from the LTA sufficient funds were raised to purchase the freehold of the land from British Railways and build a new clubhouse in 1973 which was designed by a member. The funds raised from members was largely achieved by the issue of debentures which were repayable over a period of 20 years by means of an annual draw.
At that time the Club had 4 grass courts and 3 shale courts. In 1982, being the Club’s centenary year, it was decided to replace two of the shale courts with the new artificial grass courts. At that time there were only a handful of such courts in the country. In order to raise the funds for the new courts, with floodlighting, it was decided to offer a limited number of life memberships to members raising some £14,000. At the same time the majority of the outstanding debenture holders waived their rights to their debentures.
Following the success of the artificial grass courts in 1985 two of the grass courts were then converted into artificial grass courts and the remaining shale court was converted into a hard playdeck court. This was subsequently covered with an artificial grass court and floodlighting added in 2010. Two further courts were floodlit in 2002.
In 2009 the Clubhouse kitchen and bar area was completely revamped and modernised.
In 2012 the remaining two grass courts were converted into artificial grass courts with floodlighting. The Club now has seven floodlit artificial grass courts.
Since the 1990s the Club has financed all its improvements from its own resources. The Club is thriving and attracting new members as well as catering for its existing membership. There are some 400 senior members and over 100 juniors.