15 February

New courts for Bath's famous pleasure gardens

Tennis provision in Bath is about to get even better. Four tennis courts in the historic Sydney Gardens are to be reburbished as part of a £3.4million project to restore Jane Austen’s much-loved park

Jane Austen may not have played tennis - players were still only just getting the ball over the net when she was writing her novels - but perhaps the witty and ironic novelist would have loved a game that involves so much cunning and guile. The Sydney Pleasure Gardens, which she once counted as a favourite spot and where everyone who was anyone in Georgian Bath had to be seen, are about to get a £3.4m makeover. Four new tennis courts are part of the plan.  

There are currently five courts in two locations in Sydney Gardens and a proposal that those in the eastern (lower) part of the park be removed did not impress local players. The plans were changed when 81% of those questioned voted to keep them. A proposal that the nets on the other courts be removed in winter was also shelved when local players made it clear they didn't approve. Under the new plans, there will be four courts, built to LTA standards, open for year round play.

They will be a great, new, city-central venue for the Bath Tennis League, which began last year. Other public venues include the outstanding facilities at the University of Bath which are open to the public,  courts at Royal Victoria Park (four of which are covered by a dome in the winter) and six courts in Alice Park (and a great little cafe!) though these need upgrading.

The restoration of Sydney Gardens is a partnership between Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Parks Team, The Friends of Sydney Gardens, local residents’ groups and the Holburne Museum, and follows a successful bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund. Work will start in February 2019 and take three years. There will be a detailed timetable of works and the impact on court closures in the autumn of 2019 (courts will remain open in 2019). All the courts will reopen following refurbishment in 2021.

The next round of the Bath Tennis League starts on 11 April and you can join here