Hampstead Heath croquet club needs second lawn for long-term survival

Members of the capital’s most central croquet club are appealing for a new �40,000 lawn to be laid to secure its long-term survival.

It might not have the history of the All England Club or the luscious lawns of Hurlingham, but Hampstead Heath Croquet Club boasts international players in its ranks – some with world championship experience under their belts.

The club, which was founded by two Oxford graduates four years ago, now shares a pristine lawn with Parliament Hill Bowling Club. But members are calling on the City of London Corporation, which manages the Heath, to lay a second full-size lawn to attract new players and allow the club to host home matches on the beauty spot.

The club currently has to play all its matches away from home.

Ian Harrison, a founding member who cut his croquet teeth on a “rather rough” lawn at Balliol College in the 1960s, said: “If the club is to survive long-term it needs two full-size lawns as a minimum. Speaking at a meeting of the Hampstead Heath Consultative Committee, he added: “We currently have about 14 members, but I’m not sure that’s enough to be sustainable.

“If we are going to survive for as long as the bowls club – which has just celebrated its 75th anniversary – we will need a second lawn.”

At the moment players like club co-founder Gabrielle Higgins, who has played at world championships, are sometimes forced to practice at Golders Hill Park on the other side of the Heath. The surface has been likened to a bumpy “vicarage lawn” – perfect for beginners to practice on, but unsuitable for seasoned players.

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Heath superintendent Simon Lee said “The City supports in principle the provision for a new croquet lawn, but there are a number of existing sports facilities that also need investment. The City does not at this time have funding set aside for this sort of project and indeed if funding of that magnitude did become available we would need to look carefully at where that money would be most appropriately spent.

“The City looks forward to working with the Hampstead Heath Croquet Club in developing its ideas to encourage participation in this sport.”