The Racquet Sports Collection

 

Tennis, Badminton and Squash by Lillywhite

 

In addition to cricket and golf, Lillywhites, Ltd., James Lillywhite, Frowd & Co. as well as Harry Lillywhite and Son, were prominent makers, suppliers and developers of racquet sports equipment and lawn tennis courts.  It is well established that when Major Walter Wingfield developed and began promoting his new game of Lawn Tennis in 1873 he enlisted James Lillywhite, Sr. to offer tennis raquets and Real Tennis paddles at his sports emporiums in Cheltenham and London.  In the 1874 edition of James Lillywhite’s Cricketer’s Annual there is an advert for:


“James Lillywhite’s New Game, Indian Badminton; or Lawn Racquets”


To this day, Lillywhites Ltd. has an extensive professional tennis department and a number of Harry Lillywhite’s lawn courts are still being played, notably the prominent Meadow Club in Southampton, NY.  Harry also built lawn courts at Congress Springs Park in Saratoga Springs, NY and at the Royal Poinciana (The Breakers) in Palm Beach, Florida, that are no longer in use.  In Bermuda, Harry Lillywhite ran a winter shop of sporting goods across from the then Hamilton Hotel where he also conducted the annual winter tennis tournaments on its concrete courts. 


Harry Lillywhite was most active during the “gilded age” when he was associated with Henry Flagler’s East Coast Hotel System, notably in St. Augustine and Palm Beach. In 1898 he worked along side A. H. Findlay, the club professional  laying-out and supervising the building of the East Coast Golf Club in St. Augustine which  became known as “The Little Links” when it was affiliated with the Ponce de Leon Hotel there.  He also ran a bicycle shop on St. Georges Street and a bowling alley in the Bishop’s Building on Cathedral Place,  as well as conducting the tennis tournaments in the winter months on The Casino hard courts.


Harry’s son, William Frederick Harry Lillywhite, continued Harry’s business upon his death in 1918 including the shops in Hamilton, Bermuda and Palm Beach, Florida.  He soon became acknowledged as the “stringer to the stars” since he was sought after by the likes of Bill Tilden, Bill Talbert, Pancho Gonzales, Vic Sexias and other stars who came to Southampton to play in the reknown “Meadow Cup Invitational”.  In 1906, William Lillywhite, received US Patent 832,915 for a “Holder or Press For Tennis Rackets and Similar Articles”.