Back in March we filmed, in the garden at Ampton Road and in the Birmingham Library, a piece with Philip Serrell for the BBC’s Antiques Road Trip series. This will be broadcast in the programme at 4:30pm on Monday 19th September. Find the programme by clicking here, It’s about 11.30 minutes in.
Last year we filmed a piece for World of Tennis which was broadcast on BT Sport. Filming took place at the Edgbaston Archery & Lawn Tennis Society, the oldest lawn tennis club in the world, and the Ampton Road house, former home of Augurio Perera.
See the video here on our Facebook page.
The announcement, in the Birmingham Post 28.05.15, of plans for the restoration and transformation of the Key Hill and Warstone Lane Cemeteries.
In due course we will start fund-raising for the restoration of Harry’s grave.
Gem’s grave and temporary plaque in the March sunlight.
This area of Warstone Lane Cemetery is looking so much tidier than when I first found Harry’s grave. Click link below for a short video:
Much has been written about Harry Gem but of his friend and co-pioneer in lawn tennis not much is known.
He was described thus in a newspaper report entitled ‘THE OLD RACQUET CLUB, BATH STREET – A BIT OF BIRMINGHAM HISTORY’
“…..then an older supporter of the house came forward. He remembered the starting of a racquet club.
The game was expensive and consequently exclusive. The leading spirit of the club was Harry Gem, the Magistrates’ Clerk of Birmingham, and a famous player named Young, who, he believed, had been champion of England, was engaged. For a time the club prospered. Young was nearly equalled as a player by Periera, the merchant, of Great Charles Street, a very fine all-round athlete, and the real inventor of lawn tennis.”
So who was this ‘fine all-round athlete? Dr. Kirsty Hooper, Associate Professor & Reader in Hispanic Studies, University of Warwick became interested in the subject recently and undertook research and published a fully sourced working paper. She has very kindly given us permission to reproduce her introduction from her blog with links to her paper:
An Anglo-Spanish Victorian in the Midlands: Augurio Perera, co-founder of lawn tennis
August 12, 2013 · by Kirsty · in Anglo-Spaniards, Ephemera, Midlands
Those of you who have been following our adventures on Twitter will know that this summer, the Booksonspain family moved from Merseyside to the Midlands. Being used to the multicultural port-city history of Hispanic Liverpool,* I wasn’t sure how much Hispanic history I’d find in the landlocked Midlands, but thanks to last week’s Kenilworth Weekly News and a nostalgia story about lawn tennis in Leamington, I’ve discovered one very prominent Anglo-Spanish connection, and so rather excitingly, this blog now has its very own ‘Midlands’ category.
The line that caught my eye was the statement that ‘Major Harry Gem, a solicitor, and his friend Batista Pereira, a Spanish merchant, invented lawn tennis in the 19th century, playing on a lawn in Edgbaston.’ A bit of judicious googling, and I discovered that the Major and his Spanish friend, real name Juan Bautista Luis Augurio Perera,** are now widely credited with inventing lawn tennis in around 1859 on the lawn at Perera’s villa Fairlight, on Ampton Rd in Edgbaston (left), which even has a blue plaque commemorating the event. In the last couple of years, a Birmingham-based charity called The Harry Gem Project has been set up, with objectives including: (1) To celebrate and publicise the life of Thomas Henry Gem (1819 – 1881) through publications, exhibitions, community events and a dedicated web site, and (2) To publicise his role as the originator, with his friend JBA Perera, of lawn tennis here in Birmingham and the creator of the world’s first lawn tennis club in Leamington Spa. Continue reading
Our day with Greg Rusedski in the garden at the house in Ampton Road, Edgbaston finally saw the light of day in Episode 4 of ITV’s Britain’s Secret Homes, which aired on Friday 28th June 2013.
Watch the video here on our Facebook page
The following articles appeared in the Birmingham Post.
ISSUE: 27th JUNE 2013
After a considerable wait we received recently permission to investigate the grave space to see what, if anything, remained of the headstone or other memorial. So, on Thursday 2nd May 2013 trustees Chris, Sue and Robert set about the dig.
All we dug up were several pieces of broken plinth and there was no sign of a memorial stone. Clearing away the soil to the east side of the plot we came up against a large slab and decided to clear the soil away, just in case…