Although cricket has been played in Oxshott since the late 19th Century, the Oxshott Village Sports Club was not founded until 1919. The Cricket Club, which had started in 1896, became part of the new Sports Club, which also provided four tennis courts (three grass and one asphalt) and a three-rink bowling green.
The Club was set up and sponsored by the wealthy owners of some of the large houses in the village, mainly for the benefit of their large domestic staffs. Subscriptions were nominal and the running expenses were largely met by the sponsors. The leading sponsors were Messrs. A A Trinder, J P Tilley and H F Taylor and the first two shared the presidency of the Club until 1951.
The grounds were originally leased from the Crown Estate, but the freehold was purchased in 1939 with the help of a substantial loan from Mr Trinder, one of the original sponsors. The freehold is restricted in that the use of the land has to remain as a sports club and, if this use were to cease, the land would revert to the Crown.
The Club’s three sections ran throughout the 1939-45 war, and an annual Village Fete and Horticultural Show was started in 1943 to raise funds for the Red Cross. This continued on the Club grounds until 1962, raising money for the Oxshott Trust Fund, and for the Club itself. During this period, the character of the village changed with the decline of the big estates and the building of new houses, and the Club had to become self-sufficient. Subscriptions were increased, fund raising was undertaken and facilities improved by the purchase of a former army hut for changing rooms, a lounge and a licensed bar.
In 1967 planning began to replace the hut with a new permanent building. With the help of grants from Elmbridge and central government, these plans came to fruition in l969, when the present pavilion was opened by Sir Charles Trinder, then Lord Mayor of London, and the son of Mr A A Trinder. This provided the base for further growth, with the addition of Archery and Hockey Sections, and then in 1977 two squash courts were built and a new Squash Section formed. This was a highly successful venture in its early years and significantly increased the Club’s income, allowing progressive improvements to be made to the clubhouse and facilities generally. These included a new bowls pavilion, additional tennis courts and the eventual replacement of the grass tennis courts with all-weather surfaces available for play throughout the year.
This last project included the provision of a dual-marked court for netball and the formation of a Netball Section from the Epsom and Ewell Netball Club. With improvements to the clubhouse, a Bridge Section was also formed and in 1993 the Oxshott Football Club became the Football Section of the Club, playing on hired pitches but using the Club’s social and other facilities.
During the 1990’s the Club continued to grow and improve its facilities and this involved the appointment of a Club Manager and paid bar staff in place of the volunteers, who were becoming increasingly difficult to find. This change also enabled the club bar to be open every day to improve security, which became a major issue following the fire which seriously damaged the clubhouse in April 1997. In the course of reinstating the building after the fire, the Club spent some £25,000 of its own money on further improvements to provide a bright and comfortable bar and lounge area. During the same period, artificial grass surfaces were installed on three tennis courts, together with floodlighting to allow evening play throughout the year.
Since 2000 the Club has continued to grow. In 2005 a Petanque section was formed and with the help of a grant from Sport England a second terrain was built in 2013; in 2007 a Stoolball section was started; in 2014 a third squash court was built, once again with the help of grants from Sport England and England Squash; also in 2014/15 the clubhouse facilities were refurbished with the help of a substantial grant from SITA, and in 2016 we welcomed an enthusiastic Cycling section. Unfortunately there was a dwindling number of archers and the Archery section closed in 2007.
In 2015 the Club incorporated as a company limited by guarantee, and registered as a charity, in common with many other sports clubs, although we remain a “members” club run principally by volunteers from the membership.
In 2008 the first Oxshott Village Day was held at the club. This was a great community event organized by Alec and Carmen Robinson and raised funds for local charities and helped to bring the community together again.
During 2015 further improvements were made to the tennis courts with 2 of the courts being laid with artificial clay and a third court in 2017. Floodlights to courts 8&9 were added in 2018 meaning all courts were now floodlit.
We now have nearly 1500 members across all of the ten activities, of whom almost one half are juniors.
It is all a long way from the original modest beginnings in 1919, but hopefully some of the original spirit remains and the Oxshott Village Sports Club will continue to welcome both old-established residents and newcomers to the best sports club in the area for at least another one hundred years.
By Mike Sharman & Rob Butler