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Bromley tennis club members forced to go home to use toilet due to ‘pungent’ smell

A South London tennis club sends members home to use their own toilets, after players started complaining about a stench coming from the clubhouse bathroom.

Members of Chislehurst Lawn Tennis Club in Bromley first noticed problems with their facilities when they returned after the pandemic.

Clive Richardson, chairperson of the club, said: “When we started to use the clubhouse again more fully, one or two of the ladies who have got a finer sense of smell said, ‘What’s that pong in the clubhouse?’ and it was the sewage smell.”

Clive Richardson, the chairperson of Chislehurst Lawn Tennis Club, shown outside the entrance of the clubClive Richardson, the chairperson of Chislehurst Lawn Tennis Club, shown on the courts of the club (Credit: Joe Coughlan)

Despite the courts being used nearly every day, the smelly toilets have earned a reputation for the building, with members instead opting to go home to use their own facilities.

Mr Richardson said: “People have become aware of the fact that the sewage system is not at its best. So they, therefore, manage their use of the clubhouse.”

While adult members have the option of using toilets at home, the situation can be more problematic for younger players.

He added: “There are lots of children. Especially in the Saturday morning group, which is very busy.

“We have 30 or 40 youngsters on board. And often the youngsters are being brought up to use the toilet here.

Clive Richardson, the chairperson of Chislehurst Lawn Tennis Club, shown outside the entrance of the clubThe outside of the clubhouse for Chislehurst Lawn Tennis Club

“When they use it, you wouldn’t actually warn them that it’s at risk, but it will become a risk if it isn’t resolved.”

This isn’t the first sewage problem the club have had to face, and Mr Richardson said there was previously a spillage outside the building.

“Five years ago, we at the tennis club realised sewage flow was backing up in the clubhouse. It cost us 800 quid to get it removed.”

The build-up of sewage happened shortly after Bromley Council resurfaced the neighbouring recreational ground and a “blockage halfway down the main park” was later discovered.

“They said it happened when the new rec was laid down a couple of years ago,” he added. 

Mr Richardson said he has contacted the council every three months since the issue started to try and get the situation sorted. 

The club has since tried to minimise the use of the toilet which was easier to manage during the pandemic.

Mr Richardson said: “We’ve been lucky, for the past few summers our toilet use has been small, so the backup of sewage has been small. But it remains a risk that it will come back up to a dangerous level.”

Despite encouraging members to use toilets elsewhere, this summer’s heatwave has done little to improve the situation.

Mr Richardson said: “During the hot spell, the smell from the sewage was pungent. While sitting on the patio, the smell was there. It’s on the verge of becoming a public health risk.”

Mr Richardson has been playing tennis on the grounds since they were public courts in the 1950s, and was a founding member of Chislehurst Lawn Tennis Club when it opened in 1974. 

A Bromley Council spokesperson said: “Following the apparent break in the connection pipe, an interim solution has been in place whilst a permanent arrangement is sought.

“We are hopeful that work will take place in the coming months. When an actual timescale is set to be agreed, we will be in contact with the Tennis Club to update them further.”

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