A short history of Nottingham Sun Club (formerly known as The Nottingham Sun and Air Society) by Ken Hunt

In the beginning - 1930s

In the later part of 1938 Percy Wilford and Harold H. advertised for persons interested in forming a Naturist Society in the Nottingham area.

A suitable site was found in 1939 when Percy Wilford rented 5 acres of bracken covered land including a chalet aptly named 'Wood Nook'. Adjoining this land another five acres were rented by the newly formed Society. The sites of these two pieces of land are on the right of our access road, between Wood Nook corner and the entrance to Crail House. Access was on the far side of Wood Nook and now forms the entrance to property on that side.

In the minutes of a Quarterly General Meeting dated 17thJanuary1960, there is mention of the Society's 21st Birthday due on the 19thApril of that year. The date sets the birth of the Society on their rented ground as 19thApril 1939.

A corrugated iron pavilion lined with stained match boarding was purchased second hand. This had previously stood in the yard of Shire Hall, Nottingham. The pavilion was a rather peculiar proportion - appearing to have been designed for the accommodation of giraffes rather than humans. In the middle stood a large cast iron stove and on winter evenings it would glow red hot from top to bottom.

A grass area was cleared in front of the 'new'pavilion where netball and cricket were played. Two sand courts were constructed where tenequoits were played. These surely were the beginnings that produced the National Miniten and Volleyball Championships of the present time.

Tents, the pavilion and the chalet at Wood Nook were used as sleeping accommodation. Some members built chalets. Water had to be carried from a stand pipe at Abbey Chalet until a water main was laid some time later.

During the first few years, from 1939, when war broke out, membership fluctuated. There was always a welcome for naturists serving in the Armed Forces who were stationed in the area and there were times when the pavilion floor was covered in sleeping bags.

Secretary of the Society throughout the war years was Bernard H.During this uncertain time only the great enthusiasm of Bernard and a few others kept the Society in being.

After WWII - 1940s

In 1946, the owner decided to sell 50 acres of land which included that rented by the Society. The owner offered the Society five acresof land for £500.

A meeting was called to discuss the raising of the money. This was at a time when the annual membership fee was 2 guineas (£2.10) per couple. Offers of loans varied. The largest amount was £50 from an enthusiastic new member who left before the money could be collected. At this point it was doubtful whether the full amount could be raised by loans from members.

Ways were considered whereby security could be given to those contributing to the purchase price and by which additional monies could be raised On a summer Sunday in 1948 the membership foregathered in Bernard's chalet to vote on the formation of Tabramhill Estates Ltd, and present was a very embarrassed solicitor dressed in pinstripe trousers and a black jacket, among a throng of nude bodies. The decision to form the company, Tabramhill Estates Ltd. was taken.

For each one pound loaned the member received a one pound share. The company was able; to raise a loan from the bank for the balance of money required for the purchase of the land.

Various methods were used to raise the money to pay off the bank loan. It was now made a condition of membership that within one year of joining the Society each family unit should purchase fives hares. Chalet owners were to purchase ten shares. Entrance fees paid by new members were used to buyshares in the Club's name and so reduce the loan. At this time we were so desperately short of members that we advertised on the back of Corporation bus tickets without much response.

Later, the Club was able to buy back many of the shares which had not been previously donated by many of the shareholders. Thanks to their generosity the Club is now the majority shareholder.

Rhododendrons covered the site from the pinewood to the present toilet block and from the front of the present pavilion to the tennis court. A few large silver birch trees also shared this area. Grass covered the area where the swimming pool and miniten 2 and 3 courts stand today. In that same area were a few young silver birch, the oak tree which is still nearby, a few large silver birch and two more oaks amid the rhododendrons. The area of the other miniten court and the car park had been cleared of pinewood and young seedling silver birch were taking over but the houses on Mansfield Road were visible. A few chalets, brought up from the other site, were put in line along the site of the 3rd miniten court to afford some screening of our only open area. The remainder of the land was covered by shoulder high bracken, some young sycamore and silver birch.

Bernard, the secretary, had the grandest chalet which was a converted garage with a veranda and a real fire; something other members could only dream about. By today's standards it would not even pass muster as a tool shed.

The pavilion was moved from the previous club grounds and erected close to where the new part of the pavilion now stands. Tenequoit courts were constructed in the area of miniten 2 and 3 courts by removing the shallow top soil down to the sand which is themain sub-soil in the area, a deep trench was dug directly under the nets across the centre of the courts to form the 'dead area' and the sand spread over the playing area. The trench was then infilled using the top soil. When tenequoits was replaced by the game of miniten, the Club was able to make reasonable courts using the same method by regular raking and rolling. Miniten came to the Club via a single lady member who had been on holiday in the Isle of Wight at a club, and who came back full of enthusiasm for this new game. The sand courts lasted many years until the Club was able to afford asphalt and concrete courts. The present area of the swimming pool and beyond became an open, grassy area and used for cricket and other activities.

The toilet facilities consisted of two chemical toilets housed in small wooden huts and a gents urinal, made from a length of cast iron guttering supported on two wooden posts with a fall towards a four inch pipe sunk upright to form a soak away. These facilities were concealed in small clearings in the rhododendrons close to the site of the present toilet block.

There was a natural reluctance to be saddled with the job ofemptying the Elsans, with the result that, when the job could be left no longer, they were full to within half an inch of the rim, and presented a tricky problem to the duty toilet wallah!

The Club boundary was marked out by posts and wire. This was carried out with commendable enthusiasm in that the Club finished up with nearly five and a half acres. In the advent of closer neighbours, a screening had to be considered. A Planning Committee was formed and proposals to construct a perimeter road close to the boundary fence were put before the members. Silver birch saplings, a gift from one of our neighbours, were to be planted each side of the road and cut to form a quick growing hedge and rhododendrons replanted to form a denser screen.The screen is effective today but only part of the road was constructed, that between the gate and the car park. If the remainder had been completed to plan some of the more recent problems would have been avoided.

Mains water was piped to the gate of the Club and a pipe was laid between the gate and the camp site shower. For some time that was the only supply available. Later the main was brought to the pavilion.