Loton Park Tennis Club is the second oldest continuously operating tennis club in Western Australia. The Clubhouse and grounds are, in fact, heritage listed.
The Club is named after Sir William Loton, from whom the City of Perth purchased the Loton Paddocks for 6,000 pounds in 1904. Sir William was a wealthy merchant, member of the WA parliament and one time Mayor of Perth.
At the time of the purchase, tennis had found favour with Perth’s wealthy and the demand for courts was significant. By 1916, Loton Park included several grass courts and one can only imagine what condition the grass would have been in. It was also in 1916 that the City of Perth was approached regarding the use of Loton Park for a proposed new tennis club. Agreement was reached about the running of the club using member input and the inaugural meeting of the Loton Park Tennis Club was held on 4 December 1916 and three courts were officially opened 12 days after that on December 16 1916. The Club adopted the rules of the South Perth Tennis Club and the official colours were blue and white. The Clubs colours have changed several times since 1916.
Two more courts were built in 1917, and finally a clubhouse in June 1922 – the same clubhouse still in use today. Extensions were built in 1932, and the ti-tree hedge that divided the tennis club from Perth Oval was planted in 1947 and extended in 1955. This hedge was removed by the Town of Vincent in 2006 but a replacement has been planted.
In 1997, two grass courts were converted into hard courts to offer tennis all year round. It was also the year Loton Park Tennis Club was officially listed with the Heritage Council of Western Australia as a place of historical significance.
Loton Park Tennis Club’s latest incarnation as the premiere gay and lesbian tennis club in Australia (if not the world!) began in 1994/95. The first gay Open Day was held on 21 April 1995. In 1996 and 1997 the new management obtained about $100,000 in grants to restore the Clubhouse and undertake other work that secured the Club’s future. Throughout 2014 and 2015 the historic clubhouse underwent additional renovations to ensure continued enjoyment of the facilities, and improved access for all players and visitors. This included movement of facilities, addition of a shower, disabled access, remedial work on the clubhouse and installation of weather-proof decking.
Today Loton Park’s reputation as a gay and lesbian tennis club is well established. However, Loton Park welcomes players of all abilities and persuasions (and even non-players looking for a social outlet) are welcome to enjoy the atmosphere of Loton Park Tennis Club, and share a piece of history at the same time.