The Tennis Pavilion and tennis courts were located on the west side of Davidson Avenue opposite Mercer Street on land owned by William Kent and behind the Kent house. Today, a street called Tennis Court Road runs through the property. According to newspaper reports, tennis and cricket were being played on Bell Island in 1912. The tennis courts were "going strong" in 1922, and again in 1924, when it was reported in the Daily News that "on its beautiful tree-surrounded grounds off Davidson Avenue, a new pavilion was built that summer." C.B. Archibald, Works Manager of the Wabana Mines, was President of the Tennis Club at that time and Charles Peddle was secretary. Extensive renovations were done in 1928, including the addition of a second court, with a wire fence around the courts. In 1932, members of the tennis club took part in a tournament in St. John's for the first time and also went to Carbonear to play. Elizabeth Lindsay-Palmer recalled that the tennis courts were no longer being used when she left Bell Island in 1949. The pavilion was still standing in 1962 when the Kent family left Bell Island. After the No. 2 Deckhead was dismantled and the Curling Club set up in its place, asphalt tennis courts were constructed next to it.
It was reported in the Daily News in 1924 that "the Tennis Club was going strong on its beautiful tree-surrounded grounds off Davidson Avenue and a new pavilion was built that summer." This photo of the new pavilion is from the William Lindsay photographs in COLL. 202 at the A&SC of MUN Library.
The description of activities at the Tennis Club on the right was written by Stanley Carew in a story about his youth on Bell Island. The time period he refers to would have been the 1920s through 1930s and likely continued through the 1940s after he left Bell Island. Read his full story on the Publications page under "The Book of Newfoundland."
Lester Taylor played tennis there in the 1940s and recalls that you had to be 16 to attend the Saturday evening dances. You walked through Kent's land from Davidson Avenue to access the club. During WWII, sailors from the ore ships would sometimes come to play tennis. Lester remembers some Yugoslav officers playing there. In the picture above, the umpire's chair is on the left and part of the upper court is in the foreground. The left annex was where the change rooms were and the right annex was the kitchen/domestic area. The pavilion had a record player for the members' use. There were two courts, both clay, which had been shipped in from somewhere "around the bay."
Sources: Addison Bown, "Newspaper History of Bell Island"; Stanley Carew, "Bell Island was Exciting For a Growing Boy" in The Book of Newfoundland, V. 6, p. 228; Elizabeth (Lindsay) Palmer, personal interview, 1996; Lillian Kent Cruickshank & Lester Taylor on Historic Wabana Facebook Group.
The tennis courts on Davidson Avenue were no longer being used by 1949. No. 2 Mine was closed in 1950. In the early 1950s, the No. 2 Deckhead was dismantled and, about 1954, the Curling Club set up on the site. In the summer of 1955, asphalt tennis courts were constructed next to it. The photo on the right is looking north at the new tennis courts with the east end of The Green in the background. It is from the Submarine Miner, August 1955, p.7.